England v Sri Lanka, 5th ODI, Edgbaston June 3, 2014

Senanayake catches Buttler dozing

Jos Buttler should have known better when Sachithra Senanayake warned him about backing up too far - the bowler does not deserve criticism for 'Mankading'

Play 01:20
'No sympathy for those who fall foul of Mankad'

There was little doubt what the Birmingham crowd thought to the run-out of Jos Buttler. Boos rang out around Edgbaston every time Sachithra Senanayake touched the ball following his decision to end Buttler's innings. Already utilising an action that some in England - a conservative country in cricketing terms - believe to be dubious, Senanayake will now forever be cast in the role of villain after running out the home side's golden boy in a rare instance of 'Mankading' in the international game.

Buttler, the non-striking batsman, had backed up too far. He was out of his crease. Senanayake, the bowler, had warned him in the previous over. He warned him, clearly and in sight of the umpires, that if Buttler continued to back up out of his crease, he would remove the bails and complete the run out.

After the incident, the umpires asked the Sri Lanka captain, Angelo Mathews, whether he wanted to withdraw the appeal. He confirmed that he did not and the umpires had no option. Buttler was clearly out. That left England 199 for 7 - they ended up making 219 in the deciding ODI of the series.

Such a dismissal is unusual, unpopular and creates a good deal of confusion. But it is not illegitimate and none of the umpires, Mathews or Senanayake deserve criticism. Indeed, you could argue that any other decision would have been illogical and, in an age where the game is on its guard against match-fixing, highly dubious. It might be compared to allowing a batsman a life after he had been stumped.

The confusion stems from the fact that the ICC playing conditions - effectively the rules under which international cricket takes place - differ from the Laws of the game as prescribed by the MCC. And, as a consequence, the rules that applied previously - the rules that most cricket lovers grew-up with - have also changed.

The MCC (Law 42.15) states that "The bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to attempt to run out the non-striker. Whether the attempt is successful or not, the ball shall not count as one of the over. If the bowler fails in an attempt to run out the non-striker, the umpire shall call and signal Dead ball as soon as possible."

But the ICC's playing regulation 42.11, which replaces Law 42.15 in international cricket, 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. Whether the attempt is successful or not, the ball shall not count as one of the over. If the bowler fails in an attempt to run out the non-striker, the umpire shall call and signal dead ball as soon as possible."

The crucial difference is that, while the MCC states the run out attempt must come before the bowler enters his delivery stride, the ICC allow it to come any time before the bowler completes his "delivery swing".

Nor is there, within the ICC playing regulations, any requirement to warn the batsman prior to the appeal. Senanayake was not only quite within his rights, he had actually offered Buttler an unnecessary courtesy. In a game where fine margins can decide results, Senanayake's decision to deny Buttler a few inches was simply pragmatic. He would have been a fool to do anything else.

England would be better served to look at their own faults rather than wallow in the indulgent belief that they have been wronged. It is irrelevant if Sri Lanka were reacting to news that Senanayake's action has been reported as suspect and it is irrelevant that Buttler was 'only' a little out of his ground: a line has to be drawn in these matters and, when it comes to a batsman being within his ground, that line is the crease. Buttler was guilty of some dozy cricket and should learn from the experience.

It should also be remembered that England were still shy of 200 at the time. Twice they had gone seven overs in their innings without hitting a boundary. They were already coming second in this game. Senanayake's intervention only played a minor part in their sub-par total.

Besides, Buttler should have known better. Not only was he warned but he experienced a similar incident in a county match between Surrey and Somerset in 2012 when his team-mate, Alex Barrow, was run out by Murali Kartik, who was then playing for Surrey as an overseas player.

You do wonder what Chris Adams thought, though. Adams, who was the Surrey coach at Taunton and is currently on the Sri Lanka staff as a consultant, described the incident as "regrettable" at the time.

It is also unusual. In an ODI at the Gabba in 2012, Virender Sehwag, the on-field captain for India at the time, withdrew an appeal after Ravi Ashwin ran out Lahiru Thirimane. While Sehwag's action may warrant praise, it might also be considered weak. He later explained it by suggesting he would have been criticised for any other decision.

Cricket needs to move on from the nebulous concept of 'gentlemanly' play and 'spirit.' It has playing conditions. It has Laws. It should stick with them and avoid being dragged into the mire that will be inevitable if it applies them sparingly.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hilal on June 6, 2014, 7:56 GMT

    Does anyone here remember Murali-Gilchrist event. Just a reminder. Murali after completing the run, turns back to congratulate his partner who reached a milestone. Gilchrist received the ball and "Run-Out" Murali, because he walked out of the crease "the worng way". What was the argument then? "Batsmen at this level should know the rules, and Rules are Rules" was the line of argument in that incident. Why different views for different teams/situations?

  • Dummy4 on June 6, 2014, 6:52 GMT

    what is the next step after some one giving warning twice against an action taken by the opposite....(don't say "giving him another warning").iit's nothing else other than taking the due actoin..and that was what senanayke did...the rule was not set by the sri lankans...why have rules if those are not to be used?.if sri lankans did the same you people would have thaken the action...and in such a case we..sri lankans wolud take no offence as it was leggal

  • Dummy4 on June 5, 2014, 23:40 GMT

    I think this law is fine and should be followed just like getting stumped. No reason to leave crease prior to ball being delivered. Its high time fielding team gets something back. Its quite simple to be honest, a lesson well learnt.

  • Dummy4 on June 5, 2014, 22:39 GMT

    @DoctorBev - Are you being serious mate or is it another pom whining? No one starts sprinting unless the ball has been played or its the last ball and you need 1 run to win. Are you saying that Buttler would not have take a single if there was one to be taken, just because he had backed up? I bet he would have started sprinting to steal a single?

  • Hilal on June 5, 2014, 18:45 GMT

    Cook should have realised, Buttler is the one who crossed the line. Thats why he was out. We all know how tight some run out decisions get these days. By moving out of the crease before the ball is delivered Buttler would have got an advantage over a tight run. Had Buttler taken a single and a tight run-out decision was to be made would he have given up a few inches and consider himself out? All the argument about spirit etc are irrelevant. Buttler was out of the crease which is not right, he was warned. What was he thinking when he continued to walk even after being warned. If one wants to talk about spirit of the game, then it should start with the batsmen staying behind the line. Nothing wrong with Sri Lanka's approach in this case.

  • Edward on June 5, 2014, 13:51 GMT

    Does anyone here actually play the game? Buttler was not sprinting halfway down the wicket to steal an unfair advantage. Senanayake was right to push the boundaries but Matthews should be ashamed of himself for upholding the appeal. Noone who has been involved in a game where this form of dismissal has taken place feels good about themselves (I have and all 22 players felt grubby) and to resort to reductive arguments about the laws being the only arbiters of justice is a massive cop out.

    I'm sure you all enjoyed the hard contest between Flintoff, Harmison and Lee in 2005 and the subsequent iconic Freddie-Brett handshake? How legendary would it have been if Harmison had Mankaded Lee or Kasprowiscz to win the crucial 2nd Test.

    As for criticising Cook for stating that Matthews has crossed the line. He's absolutely right! And his inadequacies and his squad's limitations are a totally separate issue. Don't be intellectually inadequate and conflate the two topics of discussion.

  • Andrew on June 5, 2014, 8:53 GMT

    Dobell is right to draw attention to the difference between the MCC and ICC laws. I was unaware of this difference and thought that the MCC rule was the only one. But has anyone thought of the implications of people doing this regularly. Most batsmen backing up move forward out of their crease as Buttler did, timing their movement to cross the crease as the bowler delivers. The fact is Senanayake dummied bowling and by the time he took the bails off Buttler had left the crease. Buttler would have not been out of his ground if he had carried out his action as normal. If this becomes a regular occurrence an IPL game for instance might last over 8 hours. Perhaps they will be able to work in some kind of Max mankad break. IMO the umpire should have stepped in when Senanayake warned Butller and said, 'what for? He isn't doing anything different to any other player every delivery'. If people can't see that this was unsportsmanlike, then a rule change is needed. MCC law or Mankad outlawed.

  • Sinhhalaya on June 5, 2014, 2:11 GMT

    This is a gift that just keeps on giving, innit? Some points: there is still confusion. Commentator Mikey Holding authoritatively read out MCC 42.15 and not the supervening ICC 42.11 as the applicable law. But he did say that Sachitra was not into his delivery stride. Second, amorphous concepts like "spirit" and other unwritten codes exist to supplement the written rules when there are gaps, NOT as superior norms that trump the laid down rules. When a comprehensive set of laws exists and is followed, no "spirit" argument should override rules set out in black and white. Third, what an absurdity it is to say that Buttler was not looking for a run (made easier by his "start") in the 44th over of an ODI when England was not doing so well. If he was merely taking a walk - he is incompetent and, as some have called him, "dozy" and deserved what he got. Last, Chef: is the non-striker taking a start before the ball is bowled your conception of acting in 'the spirit'? 'Nuff said.

  • Ross on June 5, 2014, 2:02 GMT

    Buttler was warned twice. He would have known it was a possibility. I dont agree with the way it was carried out though. After the 2 warnings then the Mankad, the Sri Lankan team should have withdrawn the appeal. After that if he was Mankaded then he had it coming. I dont think what happened was in the spirit of the game.

  • Mukesh on June 5, 2014, 1:41 GMT

    I watched the video.Senanayake is clearly in his delievery stride.His both feet are in the crease and the bowling arm rotating and now he Unbowls and uses the same arm to Run Jos Butler out. As of today's law he's delievering the ball--he should not be given run out. For future it Can not be Run out -Spinners run up is slow enough to trick the non striker and I think game can not be and should not be played with tricks. Table Tennis server must show the ball to the opponent , similarly the cricket ball once shown( not physically but the bowling arm movement) can not be recalled by the bowler.

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