Mankad debate reopens ahead of World T20
The ICC match referee Andy Pycroft has reportedly told the Oman team management that the other teams playing the first round of the World T20 in Dharamsala had agreed not to mankad batsmen. Oman, however, stuck to their stance of wanting to mankad, only budging to agree to give the batsman a warning.
Mankading - the run-out of a non-striker backing up before the ball is delivered - has become more common in a highly competitive environment and is a hotly debated subject because it is considered not to be within the spirit of the game, though it is a legal form of dismissal.
In fact, ESPNcricinfo has learned that before the Asia Cup qualifying round, the Asian Cricket Council met with the four Associate teams and instructed them not to mankad. Oman's Aamir Kaleem, however, mankaded Hong Kong's Mark Chapman in the tournament. That dismissal came shortly after West Indies Under-19 bowler Keemo Paul had mankaded the last Zimbabwe wicket to win a knockout match in the World Cup in Bangladesh.
The view of the other teams in Dharamsala regarding mankading - as conveyed by Pycroft to Oman - rung true during Ireland pre-match press conference. When asked if they had discussed Oman's stance on the mankad, Ireland captain William Porterfielsd made it clear that it was not how he wanted to play cricket.
"That is not something that we will be doing," Porterfield said. "That is not something I necessarily agree with. To each their own, I guess. If they feel it is a genuine way of taking a wicket, it is up to them, how they want to play the game. It is not for me [to judge them]. We will make sure we stand the ground. We have just got to accept that is the way they will go about it, if they do about it that way."
Sultan Ahmed, the Oman captain, said he did not see why a bowler should not run out a batsman who is taking unfair advantage. "If they don't want us to mankad, why is it in the rules then?" he asked. "We saw in the under-19 World Cup that West Indies manakded, and went on to win the cup."
When asked what he made of the debate around the spirit of cricket, Ahmed asked the batsmen to follow the spirit too. "It is not us who are in breach of the spirit," he said. "It is the batsmen who is violating the spirit by stealing yards even before the bowler has bowled. It is almost cheating."
It is interesting that the ICC felt it necessary to bring up mankading on the eve of the World Twenty20. One of the match referee's jobs is to anticipate and tackle trouble before it occurs, but what exactly is the trouble in this case is ambiguous. As the game gets increasingly professional and the stakes higher, especially for these teams: only one out of four goes through to the main draw, it is time the ICC formalised its view as opposed to holding unofficial meetings before the start of a tournament.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo