February 10, 2013

What's wrong with mankading?

The laws allow it, so why should umpires ask the fielding captain to reconsider appeals for such run-outs?

Remember that time when Kevin Pietersen danced down the pitch to Shane Warne and was stumped, and the umpire asked Ricky Ponting to withdraw the appeal? Of course you don't, because it didn't happen, and the very idea of it happening is absurd. Why, then, do umpires continue to pressure fielding captains to reconsider appeals for the so-called Mankad dismissal, the act of a bowler running out a non-striker who is backing up?

How are the situations any different, really? In both cases the batsman is attempting to gain advantage, in one by reaching the pitch of the ball and negating spin, in the other by reducing the distance he must cover to complete a run. A wicketkeeper who stumps a batsman is lauded for his sharp work, yet an eagle-eyed bowler who mankads is usually condemned as unsporting.

In 2011, the ICC made it easier for bowlers to effect such a dismissal. Previously the bowler had to take the bails off before entering his delivery stride. This is still the case under the MCC's Laws of Cricket, but the ICC adapted its playing conditions to allow the act "before releasing the ball and provided he has not completed his usual delivery swing". It was a clear and deliberate move to keep batsmen accountable.

But umpires have undermined the regulation by victimising bowlers who are only trying to stop batsmen sneaking an advantage. Consider these two recent examples.

Last February in an ODI at the SCG, Lahiru Thirimanne continually left his crease far too early. R Ashwin warned Thirimanne and when the batsman kept doing it, Ashwin ran him out. Instead of raising his finger, the umpire, Paul Reiffel, consulted his square-leg colleague and asked India's captain, Virender Sehwag, if he wanted to go through with the appeal.

In doing so, Reiffel implicitly suggested Ashwin's act of removing the bail was underhanded. It told the crowd India were borderline cheats, made Thirimanne think his behaviour was okay, and placed undue pressure on Sehwag, who ended up withdrawing a legitimate appeal. Thirimanne batted on, continued to back up unfairly, scored 62 and set up a Sri Lankan victory.

Later in 2012, Surrey's Murali Kartik mankaded Somerset's Alex Barrow during a County Championship match. Like Ashwin, Kartik had warned the batsman, though he wasn't compelled to do so. Still, the umpire, Peter Hartley, wasn't happy. He asked the fielding captain, Gareth Batty, three times if he would withdraw the appeal. Rightly, Batty refused, and later Surrey were booed off the field.

Reiffel and Hartley should simply have raised a finger, as they would for any other run-out, but instead they added to the ill-feeling by suggesting the bowler was in the wrong. The ICC's playing condition 42.11 explicitly states that a mankad is fair. An additional clause should be added to state that an umpire must not consult the fielding captain before making his decision, unless the conversation is instigated by the captain.

Certainly a mankad is no less fair than when a striker's straight drive rockets through the bowler's hands and hits the stumps with the non-striker out of his ground. Of course, umpires rightly treat that as they do a regulation run-out. Just as they should with the mankad.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • srikanths on June 9, 2014, 5:40 GMT

    Agree with the author. Can't understand as to why no one thinks of the unfairness of batsman backing and getting an advantage. In the cases pointed out , the bowlers have followed the convention and warned the batsmen before resorting to a run out. Why should the umpires ask if the law permits something. Law does permit only because that is the way cricket has to be played.The batsman backing is patently unfair and nothing but taking advantage of the public perception of what is right and what is the right convention. The umpires rechecking with the captain is even worse since , as the author points out it almost legitimises the victimhood feeling of the batsman.

  • dummy4fb on June 5, 2014, 23:49 GMT

    A good article regarding Mankading.. I agree to it fully..

  • santanuXI on June 5, 2014, 17:07 GMT

    A batsman is allowed to steal runs by backing up too far but when the bowler run him out he is considered a cheat...hypocrisy of the highest order. The term "Mankaded" is in fact an insult to that great allrounder...batsmen have all the advantage in this so called gentleman's game, even if the batsmen themselves bend the rule. LOL

  • Kulaputra on June 5, 2014, 16:46 GMT

    I am a batsman and I believe it is perfectly all right when you leave the crease and a smart bowler picks you off. The so called warning to promote "spirit" of the game is totally absurd and should be done away with. Batsman is expected to know where he is and in the quest of a quick single, if a risk is taken, it may not come off. Fake balls are genuine weapons in the bowler's armory.

    I get enough protection - abdomen, leg and thigh guards, helmets, armbands etc. do not need protection here.

    All batsmen who crib - get on with the game. You are not a endangered species.

  • dummy4fb on June 5, 2014, 12:00 GMT

    If the bowler warns the non-striker and the non-striker repeatedly ignores it, he is violating the spirit of the game and disrespecting the opponents.

  • dummy4fb on June 5, 2014, 11:05 GMT

    We shoud learn from baseball on this. Pitchers so often throw the ball to 1st/2nd/3rd base when runners are trying to steal a run. There too, they are trying to take advantage by gaining a headstart and pitchers are well within their rights to try to run them out by throwing the ball.

  • dummy4fb on June 5, 2014, 9:00 GMT

    in thirimannes case, after he warned, he continue to doing that, by the time commentarers thought that he was very young sometimes he didn't know the what rules say.. but after that over, sri Lankan dessing room said a man out there with the glous and, said them don't leave the crease before bowled. after that he never leave the crease.That how he proceed to 62 in that preticlar match.. writter of this artical should have get better idea of what happen.

  • Barking_Mad on June 5, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    Excellent piece. No one seems to be bothered about the amount of runs batsmen have stolen for being out of their ground early - so why now get in a flap when one is pulled up for it?

  • ladycricfan on June 5, 2014, 7:32 GMT

    Like the debate on Finn knocking the bails off on his delivery stride, debate on Mankading is taking an interesting turn. Umpires used to call the Finn-ball a dead ball before ICC intervened and made it a no-ball. Same thing will happen with Mankading as well. It is a legitimate run out. No need to give warning. No need to consult the captain. When the fielding teams appeals umpire should raise the finger. And it is a dead ball.

  • Rowayton on February 12, 2013, 4:24 GMT

    I reckon Mankading is fine; but I think that sometimes as an umpire you can play dumb and give a captain time to reconsider. Example - I was umpiring a fairly ill tempered game. Batsman batting out of his crease hit the ball back to the bowler a couple of times - each time the bowler not only threatened but threw the ball back in the general direction of the stumps. The second throw was a bit close to the batsman and he hit the ball away (this, incidentally, was in a fairly good standard of cricket). Fielding side appealed for obstructing the field. Umpire (me) said to the fielding captain, 'Sorry I didn't hear what they said. What was it?' Captain said, 'no they didn't say anything'. Actually, I'm still not sure what the right decision would have been if I'd had to make it. Any takers?