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David Lloyd at Taunton
August 30, 2012
A contrite Gareth Batty effectively admitted that he made a mistake "in the heat of battle" in not withdrawing the appeal that resulted in Somerset's Alex Barrow being run out for backing-up too far - a practice known outside England at least as 'Mankading.'
The Surrey captain accepted full responsibility for the decision and said: "The last thing I wanted was to bring the spirit of cricket into disrepute."
Although it has always been strictly acceptable within the laws, 'Mankading' is regarded by many within the English game as being a breach of etiquette and is an unpalatable act for many players, as well as fans.
County cricket has remained wedded to such mores since the late nineteeth century but attitudes are now blurred, especially outside England, to the point where for the tradition to survive it might ultimately have to be written into England's domestic playing regulations.
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"
Somerset and their supporters were incensed when Murali Kartik, their former spinner, removed a bail and appealed for a run out after non-striker Barrow had wandered out of his crease.
The young batsman had already been warned by Kartik, earlier in the over, for leaving his ground too soon - a caution the bowler did not need to deliver under the laws, but one which if delivered traditionally protects the bowler from allegations of sharp practice.*
As captain, Batty was asked by umpire Peter Hartley whether he wanted the appeal to stand. "In the heat of the battle I made the decision that, according to the letter of the law, it was the correct decision for him to be out," said the former England spinner.
Batty said that "hindsight was a wonderful thing" and suggested that if - like India during last summer's Test at Trent Bridge when Ian Bell was reinstated following a controversial run-out incident - he had enjoyed the luxury of a 20-minute tea interval to reconsider events, a different outcome would probably have resulted.
"People obviously think the spirit of the game has been brought into disrepute - that was not my intention and I thoroughly apologise for that," Batty said.
He added that he would be speaking to Marcus Trescothick, Somerset's captain. "I want to make sure it is right with Marcus and his team," he said.
Trescothick is not the sort of person to hold a grudge but he was clearly cross with what he had witnessed. "It's not what you come to expect in county cricket - I've never seen it before," the former England opener said. "That was quite astonishing and disappointing. The game doesn't need to come to that. It's not the game we like to play. It annoys the players and upsets the players. But we'll move on, come back tomorrow and carry on playing the game."
Chris Adams, Surrey's team director, was also in placatory mood. "I think in terms of upholding the laws of cricket it was the right decision but I think the situation certainly challenges the spirit of cricket," said Adams. "That is regrettable.
"I will support the captain in this because I have been out there in many, many situations where it is very intense. These are very intense days for a lot of teams, but especially us. It has been a very, very difficult summer [Surrey's young player Tom Maynard died in an accident on London underground in mid-summer] and we find ourselves in a position where every point, every wicket and every run appears to be of the highest premium."
Adams also recalled the dismissal of Bell against India last year, run out after he thought tea had been called. "In that incidence they India had 20 minutes of a tea-break to reflect, discuss and consider and whether it was right to change that decision," he said.
"I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when that decision was overturned. I would like to think that had we been afforded the same 20 minutes that perhaps we would have come to the same outcome. Perhaps we wouldn't.
"I would suggest maybe in the goodness of time we could all say that the one thing that hasn't been totally upheld is the spirit of cricket, and that is regrettable."
The issue has come to the fore because of a recent change in the ICC playing regulations - adopted by the ECB for domestic cricket - which now allow the bowler to run a batsman out until the point where he has completed his delivery stride - not entered his delivery stride as stated in the MCC laws. That has made the practice easier for the bowler and confused players and spectators alike.
As for Kartik, he apparently could not understand what all the fuss was about, tweeting: "Everyone get a life please... if a batsman is out on a stroll, in spite of being warned, does that count as being in the spirit of the game?"
*2:50 GMT August 31: The report had erroneously stated that the law relating to Mankading was rewritten last year.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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