Was Deepti Sharma
running Charlie Dean
out at the non-striker's end at Lord's on Saturday a plan India had worked out in advance? Or was it an instinctive decision?
According to Deepti, who stopped in her bowling stride and whipped off the bails at the non-striker's end to complete a 3-0 sweep over England, it was a plan, but one that was formulated after a warning. Leaving aside the spirit of the game for a moment, according to cricket law, the fielding team is well within its rights to run batters out for backing up too much without any warning.
Upon India's return to Kolkata on Monday, Deepti was asked about the dismissal, and she said, "Nothing, it was our plan because she repeatedly... we had warned her also. We did it according to the rules and guidelines."
When pressed specifically about whether she had warned anyone about Dean leaving the crease early, Deepti said, "Yes, yes definitely we did say because we told the umpires. But still she was there so we couldn't do anything."
Did India feel they had to win because it was Jhulan Goswami
's last game? "Every team wants to win and we wanted to win and give her a good farewell," Deepti said. "So going by that, as a team we did what we could, we put that effort in."
That should have been that on the incident, but Heather Knight
, England's regular captain who has been out of action following hip surgery, added a twist by saying that Dean hadn't been warned by the Indian players. "No warnings were given," she tweeted on Monday, adding, "if they're comfortable with the decision to affect (sic) the run out, India shouldn't feel the need to justify it by lying about warnings".
Deepti's answers seem to contradict her captain Harmanpreet Kaur
's in the aftermath of the game on Saturday. At the post-match press conference, Harmanpreet was asked if she knew Deepti was preparing to run the non-striker out for backing up too far and she said, "No, I wasn't aware. And that's what I'm saying, I'm actually happy she [Deepti] was aware because she was bowling from both ends in the middle and she knew she [Dean] was going and I think it was her awareness."
A detailed analysis by ESPNcricinfo's Peter Della Penna
, who checked every delivery of England's innings since Dean's arrival at the crease, showed that she had left the crease early 72 times, before being dismissed on the 73rd occasion.
Dean's dismissal, leaving England 16 short, triggered widespread spirit-of-cricket debates. Several prominent England cricketers, including Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Sam Billings, tweeted their displeasure at the dismissal. Others, like Alex Hales - currently on a comeback trail with the England T20I squad - backed Deepti's act, saying, "it shouldn't be difficult for the non-striker to stay in their crease till the ball has left the hand".
At the presentation, after she had led India to an ODI series win in England after 23 years, Harmanpreet told the official broadcaster that no "crime" had been committed.
"Today, whatever we have done, I don't think it was any crime," she had said. "It is part of the game and is an ICC rule, and I think we just need to back our player.
"I'm actually very happy she [Deepti] was aware of that, and the batter is taking too long a stride. I don't think she has done something wrong."
On Sunday, the MCC, which is the custodian of the laws of the game, issued a statement saying, "The Law is clear, as it needs to be for all umpires to be able to easily interpret throughout all levels of the game and at all moments in the game.
"Cricket is a broad church and the spirit by which it is played is no different. As custodians of the Spirit of Cricket, MCC appreciates its application is interpreted differently across the globe. Respectful debate is healthy and should continue, as where one person sees the bowler as breaching the Spirit in such examples, another will point at the non-striker gaining an unfair advantage by leaving their ground early.
"MCC's message to non-strikers continues to be to remain in their ground until they have seen the ball leave the bowler's hand. Then dismissals, such as the one seen yesterday, cannot happen. Whilst yesterday was indeed an unusual end to an exciting match, it was properly officiated and should not be considered as anything more."