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David Lloyd at Taunton
August 30, 2012
Surrey 317 and 58 for 0 lead Somerset 294 (Trego 92, Hildreth 85, Kartik 4-70, Meaker 4-74) by 81 runs
Surrey were booed from the field here and called "a disgrace to cricket" by angry spectators after their India spinner Murali Kartik ran out Somerset batsman Alex Barrow for backing up too far and then the captain, Gareth Batty, refused to withdraw the highly contentious appeal.
Kartik, playing against the county he left at the end of last season and clearly fired up, removed a bail at the non-striker's end as he was about to deliver the final ball of an over, having seen that Barrow was out of his crease.
The bowler was within his rights to claim the wicket, and had cautioned the batsman earlier in the over for leaving his ground too early. That initial warning, although it has never been strictly necessary under the laws of the game, gives Kartik an additional line of defence against those who believe he broke the spirit of the game.
Law 42.15, as adapted by ECB playing regulations for championship cricket, simply states: "The bowler is permitted, before releasing the ball and provided he has not completed his usual delivery swing, to attempt to run out the non-striker."
For all that, this type of dismissal, known as 'Mankading' and still rare at any level of cricket in England, is widely seen as unsporting.
Somerset supporters among a crowd of around 2,000 certainly thought so - especially when it became clear that Batty, the former England spinner who took over as Surrey captain in early July, was not going to intervene to save the 20-year-old Barrow.
Batty and bowler's end umpire Peter Hartley had a long conversation, during which the official apparently asked on three occasions whether the skipper wanted to withdraw Kartik's appeal. Finally, and reluctantly it seemed, Hartley raised his finger.
The crowd booed as Barrow trudged away in mid-afternoon, they booed again at the start of Kartik's next over, slow handclapped Surrey for a short time and then jeered once more when Batty finally introduced himself to the attack an hour after the run-out incident.
But the reception the visitors received either side of tea was more hostile still. When Surrey's players left the field, they were jeered into their dressing room as angry spectators gathered by the Andy Caddick Pavilion.
One man, who announced himself as a Surrey member, shouted that Batty and Kartik should resign, adding that the team ought to be "ashamed" of themselves. Among the comments from Somerset supporters was the cry: "You are a disgrace to cricket."
Somerset's grim-faced players stood on their balcony, looking down on their opponents. The captain, Marcus Trescothick, appeared during the interval to placate a home supporter who was particularly furious. A 20-minute break did nothing to reduce the general strength of feeling, however. When Surrey trooped out for the final session, with Batty and Kartik in the leading group, the boos rang out again.
Barrow, a young batsman who has struggled for runs this season and not made a half-century in 13 Championship innings, was silly to leave his crease prematurely on more than one occasion, especially given that his team were trying to consolidate after three wickets in 14 balls from Kartik had reduced them to 167 for 5. But it is safe to assume that many more people than those doing the jeering here will feel that Surrey have behaved in an unsporting manner contrary to the spirit of the game.
As recently as February of this year, India captain Virender Sehwag withdrew an appeal after the spinner R Ashwin had run out Sri Lanka's Lahiru Thirimanne during a one-day international. And that, a majority of cricket-lovers may feel, is the way it should be.
Kartik, who was angry last winter when some Somerset supporters criticised his conduct regarding a move to Surrey, had been ticking all afternoon - whooping and hollering with delight as he won lbw decisions against James Hildreth, Chris Jones and Jos Buttler in quick succession after lunch. Then, just before running out Barrow, he sarcastically applauded the youngster following a lofted straight drive that whistled for four.
Even after the controversial dismissal, Kartik was far from shame-faced. And nor was Batty. Umpires Hartley and Steve Gale stopped play to tell Surrey's captain that there was too much chat from at least one of the close fielders - and, having passed on the information, Batty seemed to mimic the crowd's slow hand-clapping.
As for the cricket, Peter Trego gave Somerset and their fans some joy by crunching 92 runs from 110 balls - an innings that included two swept sixes off Kartik. Even then, the hosts narrowly failed to reach Surrey's 317 and, by the close, the visitors had extended their advantage to 81.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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