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Ricky Ponting to R Ashwin: 'Some sort of a run penalty' ideal for non-strikers backing up too far

Delhi Capitals coach and bowler agree that the batsman is "cheating" if he tries to steal yards

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
Ricky Ponting believes a non-striker stealing yards before the bowler has released the ball is cheating, but he still doesn't think running the batsman out is the ideal way to keep him in the crease. According to Ponting, a run penalty on the batsman stealing yards - "found cheating" - is something that needs to be looked at.
Ponting is the coach of Delhi Capitals, the IPL team which secured for this year the services of R Ashwin, the biggest proponent of the run-out of the batsman backing up before the bowler releases the ball. The difference in opinion became a flashpoint when Ponting said, in the lead-up to this year's IPL, that he was going to have a "hard conversation" with Aswhin and that "this is not going to be the way we play our cricket".
On his diary show, Ashwin spoke to the coach about the issue, and they ended up agreeing that the batsman is cheating if he starts running before a bowler delivers the ball.
"Yeah, I totally get where you are coming from," Ponting told Ashwin when asked for his views on the run-out. "I wasn't trying to say that you were [not] justified because it is actually in the laws of the game. You can do it. So if a batsman is cheating, and trying to steal a couple of yards...
"I just think that we have got to find a way around. Trying to stop the batsman cheating. We have had this conversation already. I don't want to see anyone running two or three yards down the wicket [before the ball is delivered]. Because that basically is cheating."
Ashwin told Ponting that the first time he had effected such a run-out was when he was 12. "Because I couldn't stand the batsmen taking those extra yards," he explained. "I was a batsman myself in the junior category, and I feel it is a massive advantage. And the moment I did that, spirit of cricket was brought into play."
Ashwin has previously suggested that if the batsman leaves the crease before the ball is delivered, the runs off that ball, and the next (taking the free-hit principle forward), should be disallowed. He found some sort of agreement from Ponting.
"I think there should be some sort of a run penalty," Ponting said. "If you are to get to the top of your bowling action and stop, and it shows that the batsman is cheating and is out of his crease, I think put a run penalty on them. And do it right from the start, because that will stop him right away. Imagine taking 10 runs off a team total because you have taken yards... those sort of things need to be looked at."
Ashwin's run-out of Jos Buttler in the 2019 IPL had sharply divided opinion in the cricketing world. While there was praise for someone finally enforcing the law without regret or remorse, there was also criticism for it not being in the spirit of cricket, especially when done without a warning.
Capitals also have in their ranks Keemo Paul, who was vilified for a similar run-out at the Under-19 World Cup to such an extent that he swore off it despite knowing what he did was legal.
It, however, remains unclear if Ponting has said and done enough to deter Ashwin from running someone out in the said fashion this year.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo