Michael Jeh April 27, 2010

Where cheaters can prosper

 
30


Why is it that a batsman who steals (cheats) an extra metre instantly becomes the "poor victim" if the bowler runs him out in his delivery stride? © International Cricket Council
 

As Gideon Haigh so eloquently put it in his most recent Cricinfo piece, the Australian sporting public are apparently betrayed and shocked by recent revelations about their champion rugby league team's salary cap rort. Well, perhaps only those who actually care about rugby league are actually shocked. But amongst that demographic, there is almost a universal sense of betrayal and shock, a universality that has been noticeably lacking in recent years when women were allegedly sexually assaulted or treated as group sex playthings by half a rugby league team. It's a measure of the morality of a sport when it feels more betrayed by salary cap cheating than the sense of shame that comes with numerous examples of poor behaviour where real people actually get hurt sometimes.

But for some reason, the issue of systemic 'cheating' carries with it a sense of deep outrage. As I discussed in my most recent post, the issue of double standards is a troublesome beast that simply won't go away and die quietly in peace. The ICC World Twenty20 in the West Indies is about to showcase another curious aspect of cricket's inconsistency that would surely confuse anyone trying to make sense of the rules. I refer to the 'Mankad' law.

Fairly recently, the laws of cricket were amended to ensure that the non-striker could virtually cheat at will. He can steal a metre or two and be almost immune from being run-out by the bowler. If the bowler had the temerity to actually effect a 'Mankad dismissal', it would generally be seen as a churlish and mean-spirited thing to do. The fielding captain would almost be obliged to call the poor batsman back.

Yet, for a sport that relies on the third umpire to make decisions based on millimetres and split video frames, it is utterly inconsistent to allow the non-striker to gain an advantage of this magnitude. Why is it that a batsman who steals (cheats) an extra metre instantly becomes the "poor victim" if the bowler runs him out in his delivery stride? Can this be the same game where the third umpire will watch endless replays to see if a run-out decision can be decided by the narrowest of margins? Can this be the same game where every possible camera angle will be used to decide if the boundary fielder touched the rope with any part of his body in contact with the ball?

In T20 cricket especially, if a bowler even cuts the popping crease with the mere shadow of his boot, he gets penalised one run and a free hit next ball. In a shortened game, a genuine mistake which probably does not even give the bowler any real advantage (unless he is deliberately bowling no-balls and that is likely to be a blatant breach anyway), a free hit can often be the difference between winning and losing. That's how tight cricket can be. And yet, the lawmakers have somehow deemed it appropriate to allow the non-striker to virtually back up as far as he wants so he can then get the benefit of the doubt if there's a run-out decision that has to be decided by an inconclusive split video frame.

Perhaps in a bygone era when non-strikers gently strolled forward as the bowler delivered the ball and no unfair advantage was sought, the bowler whipping off the bails was probably seen as a bit beyond the pale. But now, in a clinically professional environment where it's the 'one percenters' that determine success or failure, it seems an incredible oversight to allow only one aspect of the game to effectively steal territory that is ruthlessly policed in every other sphere. If batsmen are doing this deliberately, especially in a situation where it's the last ball of the match and the batting team needs to scramble one or two runs to win the game, is this not tantamount to cheating? If you need two to win and the full length ball gets choked out to long-on/long-off, it's almost impossible to stop the non-striker getting back for the second run if he's already halfway down the pitch when the batsman hits it. Athletes like AB De Villiers, Michael Clarke, Kieron Pollard and MS Dhoni would back themselves every time to beat the ball home if they had that sort of advantage.

If cricket is going to be fair dinkum about consistent rulings, this anomaly needs to be addressed. Just watch the non-strikers in these next few weeks and freeze the point at which the ball is delivered. It's not really cheating because the law says you can do it but it's an inconsistency that makes no sense in a sport that is often decided by the smallest of margins. Go figure.....

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mikeindex on May 8, 2010, 19:30 GMT

    I see in the Pak-NZ game today the batsmen ran a bye to the keeper and even though the keeper (Hopkins) hit the stumps direct (without even taking his glove off) the non-striker made his ground. To my mind the very fact that this can happen gives your article added point.

  • graeme on May 3, 2010, 11:31 GMT

    mmmm....i see how it goes

  • Looch on May 3, 2010, 5:16 GMT

    I used to enjoy Michael Jeh's articles but in the last 12 months they have become increasingly sanctimonious and embarrassingly naive, especially considering his profession. C'mon Michael, start talking about cricket again rather than trying to show the world how "great" and "fair" you are in this unjust world!

  • graeme on May 2, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    @vijay

    actually my comments about srt are much more relevant than the authors tenuous connection to the rugby scandal. The law has been changed and the batsman is entitled to walk out the crease, calling him a cheat is silly because its within the rules now, maybe you could go for cynical if your feeling a little self-righteous. srt stood his ground after he obviously hit the ball(obvious to him as well, sometimes you don't know faint nicks off the bat but anyone who plays cricket knows when it touches your gloves) and after he hit it he stood his ground. I said its ok , its in the rules! He can wait for the umpire's decision. However, what really annoys me is when Symonds waited for umpire's decision in Sydney a few years ago he was lamblasted as unsportsmanlike and the umpire was ridiculed by the Indian press and fans. However, when srt does it in the IPL final, what do we get? The sounds of silence...the hypocrisy of the Indian commentators is there for all to see.

  • njr1330 on April 30, 2010, 16:26 GMT

    Wind the clock back 20 years. A club called Marchwiel in the Liverpool Competition; their No.3 batsman, a bright young Aussie, who loved stealing a yard or two when non-striking. His name ... er...Michael Jeh!

  • Isaac on April 30, 2010, 6:24 GMT

    I feel like I lost brain cells reading this article, very poorly written. I dont understand the jibe at Australian rugby leauge, it has no reference to the article at all. You must have a short memory if you dont think the Australian public were shocked and discusted when any footballer commits an act of crime.

  • Wayne on April 30, 2010, 3:02 GMT

    I agree with Nathan and co. regarding the trivial attacks on the Australian sporting community. The only semblance of reason I can attribute is that Australia are supposed to be the epitome of "hard but fair" competitors. Whilst we generally stay within these boundaries there are occasions when there are minor breaches. When more serioius incidents occur, Aussies are generally open and quick to apologise for their actions. Furthermore, claiming Australians feel "betrayed and shocked by recent revelations about their champion rugby league team's salary cap rort" is a load of rubbish. The Melbourne Storm are not "our champion team" but merely a club side whose administrators didn't play by the rules. If you are going to use such an example, please use it accurately without (intentionally) misleading the readers into believing it was "our champion team." Premiers yes, our champion team, no. Shocked? Absolutely not.

  • Krishna on April 29, 2010, 17:13 GMT

    A modification to KK's suggestion: Instead of penalising the batting team shorter by one delivery when the non-striker is found to be taking a headstart and "caught" by the bowler, penalize the batting team by reducing their total by one run. If the batsmen run for 2 runs of that delivery, grant one run. It can be shown as negative runs under EXTRAS.

  • Vijay on April 29, 2010, 15:26 GMT

    @graeme: Sachin has never claimed that he would walk if he nicked so you cannot fault him there. Had he said he is a walker then there he is culpable but through out his career, and I have watched him play right from 1986, he has always waited for the umpire's decision. So it was unnecessary and totally irrelevant of you to remark about Sachin's apparent lack of honesty

  • RC on April 29, 2010, 13:38 GMT

    Lol- the poor innocent aussies are feeling victimised.hom typical! being given less punishment than others isn't innocence its bias on the part of the officials. and whats wrong with the example given. its just a recent event that was relevant although i feel the 2 offences are vastly different. so don't feel victimised so soon.

  • mikeindex on May 8, 2010, 19:30 GMT

    I see in the Pak-NZ game today the batsmen ran a bye to the keeper and even though the keeper (Hopkins) hit the stumps direct (without even taking his glove off) the non-striker made his ground. To my mind the very fact that this can happen gives your article added point.

  • graeme on May 3, 2010, 11:31 GMT

    mmmm....i see how it goes

  • Looch on May 3, 2010, 5:16 GMT

    I used to enjoy Michael Jeh's articles but in the last 12 months they have become increasingly sanctimonious and embarrassingly naive, especially considering his profession. C'mon Michael, start talking about cricket again rather than trying to show the world how "great" and "fair" you are in this unjust world!

  • graeme on May 2, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    @vijay

    actually my comments about srt are much more relevant than the authors tenuous connection to the rugby scandal. The law has been changed and the batsman is entitled to walk out the crease, calling him a cheat is silly because its within the rules now, maybe you could go for cynical if your feeling a little self-righteous. srt stood his ground after he obviously hit the ball(obvious to him as well, sometimes you don't know faint nicks off the bat but anyone who plays cricket knows when it touches your gloves) and after he hit it he stood his ground. I said its ok , its in the rules! He can wait for the umpire's decision. However, what really annoys me is when Symonds waited for umpire's decision in Sydney a few years ago he was lamblasted as unsportsmanlike and the umpire was ridiculed by the Indian press and fans. However, when srt does it in the IPL final, what do we get? The sounds of silence...the hypocrisy of the Indian commentators is there for all to see.

  • njr1330 on April 30, 2010, 16:26 GMT

    Wind the clock back 20 years. A club called Marchwiel in the Liverpool Competition; their No.3 batsman, a bright young Aussie, who loved stealing a yard or two when non-striking. His name ... er...Michael Jeh!

  • Isaac on April 30, 2010, 6:24 GMT

    I feel like I lost brain cells reading this article, very poorly written. I dont understand the jibe at Australian rugby leauge, it has no reference to the article at all. You must have a short memory if you dont think the Australian public were shocked and discusted when any footballer commits an act of crime.

  • Wayne on April 30, 2010, 3:02 GMT

    I agree with Nathan and co. regarding the trivial attacks on the Australian sporting community. The only semblance of reason I can attribute is that Australia are supposed to be the epitome of "hard but fair" competitors. Whilst we generally stay within these boundaries there are occasions when there are minor breaches. When more serioius incidents occur, Aussies are generally open and quick to apologise for their actions. Furthermore, claiming Australians feel "betrayed and shocked by recent revelations about their champion rugby league team's salary cap rort" is a load of rubbish. The Melbourne Storm are not "our champion team" but merely a club side whose administrators didn't play by the rules. If you are going to use such an example, please use it accurately without (intentionally) misleading the readers into believing it was "our champion team." Premiers yes, our champion team, no. Shocked? Absolutely not.

  • Krishna on April 29, 2010, 17:13 GMT

    A modification to KK's suggestion: Instead of penalising the batting team shorter by one delivery when the non-striker is found to be taking a headstart and "caught" by the bowler, penalize the batting team by reducing their total by one run. If the batsmen run for 2 runs of that delivery, grant one run. It can be shown as negative runs under EXTRAS.

  • Vijay on April 29, 2010, 15:26 GMT

    @graeme: Sachin has never claimed that he would walk if he nicked so you cannot fault him there. Had he said he is a walker then there he is culpable but through out his career, and I have watched him play right from 1986, he has always waited for the umpire's decision. So it was unnecessary and totally irrelevant of you to remark about Sachin's apparent lack of honesty

  • RC on April 29, 2010, 13:38 GMT

    Lol- the poor innocent aussies are feeling victimised.hom typical! being given less punishment than others isn't innocence its bias on the part of the officials. and whats wrong with the example given. its just a recent event that was relevant although i feel the 2 offences are vastly different. so don't feel victimised so soon.

  • Andrew Moreton on April 29, 2010, 12:40 GMT

    If the non-striker can be run out as proposed by some of the above (and as used to be permitted following a "warning") why can't the facing batsman be run out, eg Matthew Hayden used to often bat out of his crease against quicker bowlers so what would be to stop the bowler, rather than bowling the ball, throwing it vehemently at the stumps?

  • Dave on April 29, 2010, 12:29 GMT

    "Ball not in play until it leaves the bowler's hand" ??

    According to the laws of cricket the ball becomes live when the bowler starts his run-up, or bowling action if he has no run-up.

    Surely once the ball is live either batsman should be liable to be run out, I don't see why there should be a short period during the delivery stride when batsmen gain this temporary immunity.

  • James on April 29, 2010, 8:52 GMT

    Great, Michael Jeh opens an article related to non-strikers in cricket with more aimless Australia-bashing. Seriously, why is this guy even allowed to write? All of his articles are about how much he hates Australia and people from Australia and Australian sport. I think he wanted to write about cricket in general but doesn't have any idea about how to write something without basing it on his hatred of Australia.

  • Pratik on April 29, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    It is a batman's ('see the ball, hit the ball') game.

  • DL on April 29, 2010, 5:58 GMT

    You could be waiting a while for that one Nathan.

    I also do feel that the new mankad law has gone a bit too far, however as a fairly agile batsman in my local comp.. i don't mind!

  • Carl Jacob on April 29, 2010, 3:19 GMT

    If the non-striker leaves the crease before the ball leaves the bowler's hand and the bowler can effect a run out it should be out . No warning necessary . If the bowler attempts such however and the non-striker has regained his crease award 5 penalty runs to the batting side .

  • Steve on April 29, 2010, 1:45 GMT

    Totally agree with Nathan and this article. I have played for over 30 years and could never understand why it is considered bad form to Mankad. Non strikers should not be allowed to leave their crease until the bowler has let go of the ball.

    I also agree with Nathan that it is becoming a tad droll that every time I read an article about any topic on Cricinfo, Australia is somehow dragged thru the mud. Nathan I think there is a bad case of Tall Poppy Syndrome out there in the cricket media world. Somehow Australians have become the bastions of all things holy on the cricket field, sure they haven't always behaved well but neither have the rest. I have wondered what the cricket world would have made of it if Ponting was seen biting a cricket ball, rubbing it with sandpaper, deliberately doing circles on the pitch in full spikes?

  • Andrew Moreton on April 28, 2010, 21:01 GMT

    As the ball's not in play until delivered the non-striker can no more be run out than the facing batsman. Can't see the problem. Far from being an advantage to the batting side surely it is a disadvantage for the facing batsman who has to run further than his enthusiastic colleague?

  • Eg on April 28, 2010, 16:12 GMT

    Why are batsmen allowed to 'cross'? If the ball is hit in the air and caught by a fielder, no run accrues to the batting team and surely the new batsman should face the next ball, unless it was the last ball of the over? This too, can be a critical issue in especially T20.

  • Ravi on April 28, 2010, 14:45 GMT

    a similar situation has been developed by the law enforcing a ball change after 34 overs. It is not as if cricket does not have enough money to afford a new ball from each end!!! While this may not be "cheating", the law is still an ass!

  • graeme on April 28, 2010, 14:20 GMT

    Well if the law is changed then its not cheating even if you don't like it. Also, the the non-striker is taking a risk if the his partner hits back to bowler he can be run out through a deflection or a quick back handed flick.

    It has also been suggested to me that a batsman who stands out of his crease is cheating but i say good luck to anyone who wants to get clser to a ball coming at them at over 140kms!

    I say the ball is not live until the bowler bowls the ball and until then the batsman can stand wherever the please!

    Just on the subject of cheating and sportsmanship, how does Tendulkar's non-walk rank in the IPL final where he basically punched the ball into Dohni's gloves!! That's OK, he can wait for the umpire's decision, its in the rules!! But dont hold him up as a saint anymore. He is not as noble as some thought....

  • Paul on April 28, 2010, 12:46 GMT

    Nathan - agreed. It's ironic that Michael Jeh is the worst offender. The "token" Aussie - well, at least he lives there - on Different Strokes, and he seems to take an almost churlish delight in ripping into Australia.

    *Yawn*

  • Mike in Orlando, Florida on April 28, 2010, 11:42 GMT

    I think that the present rule is a fair one. Non-strikers normally treat the planting of the front foot by the bowler during his/her delivery stride as tantamount to the starter's gun, and so he/she is free to leave the crease. If this rule was not in force, the bowler could well plant the foot and then whip off the bails before delivering the ball, and the non-striker would suffer the unfair consequences. If a non-striker blatantly leaves the crease prior to the delivery, the bowler has the opportunity to run him/her out by either throwing down the stumps or stopping his/her run up and removing the bails with the hand that is holding the ball. Seems fair to me, especially when cheating was the main aim of the non-striker.

  • MTC on April 28, 2010, 11:10 GMT

    Perhaps if the non striker is out of the crease, any runs from that ball should be treated as a short run and not counted. The bowler should also be encouraged to run the batsman out as well if he gets the chance.

  • Beep on April 28, 2010, 10:45 GMT

    I'd like to reinstate the mankad.

    If singles were more difficult to take, batsmen would be forced to find other ways to score, i.e. boundaries, and wouldn't that make for a more entertaining game?

  • Nathan on April 28, 2010, 4:58 GMT

    I've always wondered about that, and about why the bowler would be viewed as the 'bad guy' if he ran out a cheating non-striker. I agree it's quite strange.

    But the comparison between salary cap cheating and off field incidents is a ridiculous, clutching at straws at it's finest. The author says it himself ... most of the off field incidents are merely ALLEGED, and most enlightened people won't crucify a player over an allegation, whereas there is no denying the salary cap cheating. The other point is that, speaking for myself, I follow the game and don't really care what people do in their personal lives. The salary cap issue affects fans, hence they are outraged, most off field issues do not affect the fans, hence they are less concerned by this.

    I dream of the day where I can read a cricinfo article without the author using some extremely tenuous argument to have a crack at Australia, it's players, or it's sporting public.

  • Phil S on April 27, 2010, 23:09 GMT

    Once upon a time, as an Australian, I used to believe Mankad was wrong to run out a non-striker. But the change of law preventing that has been bad for the game. The old give-you-one-warning-and-then-you're-gone from the bowler seems a fair way of going about it. Or, as the writer says, in today's professional game, no second chance is required. Bowlers must get sick and tired of batsman pinching singles to get off strike when they were under pressure, purely because the non-striker gets such an overly generous headstart.

  • Richard on April 27, 2010, 22:35 GMT

    Well said, I agree with the article completely.

    Re: Karthik (a): If the batsman chooses to reduce his time to react to the delivery, so be it. The keeper can always stand up to the stumps.

  • KK on April 27, 2010, 18:57 GMT

    Suggestion: When the non-striker is found to be taking a headstart and "caught" by the bowler, penalize the batting team by making the over shorter by 1 delivery everytime he is caught doing that.

  • Karthik on April 27, 2010, 15:51 GMT

    Well said. I also don't think much of the following rules/lack thereof: a) Batmen being allowed to take their stance outside the crease. Why is it an illegal delivery if a bowler oversteps, but perfectly fine when the batsman does? b) Why are overthrows credited to the batsman when it's obviously a fielding error? c) Why are batsmen allowed to "garden"?

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Karthik on April 27, 2010, 15:51 GMT

    Well said. I also don't think much of the following rules/lack thereof: a) Batmen being allowed to take their stance outside the crease. Why is it an illegal delivery if a bowler oversteps, but perfectly fine when the batsman does? b) Why are overthrows credited to the batsman when it's obviously a fielding error? c) Why are batsmen allowed to "garden"?

  • KK on April 27, 2010, 18:57 GMT

    Suggestion: When the non-striker is found to be taking a headstart and "caught" by the bowler, penalize the batting team by making the over shorter by 1 delivery everytime he is caught doing that.

  • Richard on April 27, 2010, 22:35 GMT

    Well said, I agree with the article completely.

    Re: Karthik (a): If the batsman chooses to reduce his time to react to the delivery, so be it. The keeper can always stand up to the stumps.

  • Phil S on April 27, 2010, 23:09 GMT

    Once upon a time, as an Australian, I used to believe Mankad was wrong to run out a non-striker. But the change of law preventing that has been bad for the game. The old give-you-one-warning-and-then-you're-gone from the bowler seems a fair way of going about it. Or, as the writer says, in today's professional game, no second chance is required. Bowlers must get sick and tired of batsman pinching singles to get off strike when they were under pressure, purely because the non-striker gets such an overly generous headstart.

  • Nathan on April 28, 2010, 4:58 GMT

    I've always wondered about that, and about why the bowler would be viewed as the 'bad guy' if he ran out a cheating non-striker. I agree it's quite strange.

    But the comparison between salary cap cheating and off field incidents is a ridiculous, clutching at straws at it's finest. The author says it himself ... most of the off field incidents are merely ALLEGED, and most enlightened people won't crucify a player over an allegation, whereas there is no denying the salary cap cheating. The other point is that, speaking for myself, I follow the game and don't really care what people do in their personal lives. The salary cap issue affects fans, hence they are outraged, most off field issues do not affect the fans, hence they are less concerned by this.

    I dream of the day where I can read a cricinfo article without the author using some extremely tenuous argument to have a crack at Australia, it's players, or it's sporting public.

  • Beep on April 28, 2010, 10:45 GMT

    I'd like to reinstate the mankad.

    If singles were more difficult to take, batsmen would be forced to find other ways to score, i.e. boundaries, and wouldn't that make for a more entertaining game?

  • MTC on April 28, 2010, 11:10 GMT

    Perhaps if the non striker is out of the crease, any runs from that ball should be treated as a short run and not counted. The bowler should also be encouraged to run the batsman out as well if he gets the chance.

  • Mike in Orlando, Florida on April 28, 2010, 11:42 GMT

    I think that the present rule is a fair one. Non-strikers normally treat the planting of the front foot by the bowler during his/her delivery stride as tantamount to the starter's gun, and so he/she is free to leave the crease. If this rule was not in force, the bowler could well plant the foot and then whip off the bails before delivering the ball, and the non-striker would suffer the unfair consequences. If a non-striker blatantly leaves the crease prior to the delivery, the bowler has the opportunity to run him/her out by either throwing down the stumps or stopping his/her run up and removing the bails with the hand that is holding the ball. Seems fair to me, especially when cheating was the main aim of the non-striker.

  • Paul on April 28, 2010, 12:46 GMT

    Nathan - agreed. It's ironic that Michael Jeh is the worst offender. The "token" Aussie - well, at least he lives there - on Different Strokes, and he seems to take an almost churlish delight in ripping into Australia.

    *Yawn*

  • graeme on April 28, 2010, 14:20 GMT

    Well if the law is changed then its not cheating even if you don't like it. Also, the the non-striker is taking a risk if the his partner hits back to bowler he can be run out through a deflection or a quick back handed flick.

    It has also been suggested to me that a batsman who stands out of his crease is cheating but i say good luck to anyone who wants to get clser to a ball coming at them at over 140kms!

    I say the ball is not live until the bowler bowls the ball and until then the batsman can stand wherever the please!

    Just on the subject of cheating and sportsmanship, how does Tendulkar's non-walk rank in the IPL final where he basically punched the ball into Dohni's gloves!! That's OK, he can wait for the umpire's decision, its in the rules!! But dont hold him up as a saint anymore. He is not as noble as some thought....