Javagal Srinath, the former India fast bowler and current ICC match referee, has a strong message for batsmen from around the world: Do not invoke the spirit of cricket if you're run out at the bowler's end backing up too far.
Srinath, who celebrated his 51st birthday on Monday, said he was "perfectly fine" with bowlers running out batsmen who tried to gain advantage by leaving the crease early. He was specifically asked for his thoughts by India off spinner R Ashwin on the subject, which has seen plenty of debate in recent times.
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting most-recently promised to have "hard conversations" with Ashwin about effecting such dismissals. Ponting, the head coach of Delhi Capitals, said at the time that "this won't be the way we play our cricket." Srinath, however, differed.
'"The bowler is focusing on the batsman [as he bowls]. For the batsman [at the non-striker's end] to stick to his crease till the ball is released is no big deal, because he's not batting, nor is he thinking of anything else." Srinath told Ashwin on his Youtube show 'DRS With Ash'. "So the batsman shouldn't leave the crease and the bowler should focus on just bowling and the batsman he's going to bowl to.
"If the batsman is taking undue advantage, and if he's involved in a run out, I am fine. I am perfectly okay with that. The rules have been set and reiterated many times. It is not about T20, but every format of the game. The onus is on the batsman to stick to the crease until the ball has been delivered. That's the best way to look into it.
"Don't look for any empathy. Don't invoke the spirit of the game. The spirit of the game is with the runner. He cannot move out of the crease. If he is doing it, he's not invoking the spirit of the game itself. I would believe that the batsman should stick to the crease."
"Don't look for any empathy. Don't invoke the spirit of the game. The spirit of the game is with the runner. He cannot move out of the crease."JAVAGAL SRINATH
Srinath felt any ground the batsmen gain by leaving the crease is "unfair" even if inadvertent. "Even if the batsman has inadvertently left the crease, and it happens to be the last ball of the match where there's a run-out [chance] with the batsman in by an inch, but he has already taken three foot forward before the ball has been delivered, the result is unfair.
"One of the teams will probably pay for it. I would like to see a balance here. I would want the batsman to stay, be more careful. Look into the arm of the bowler and let himself go only after the ball is released. It cannot be that he's gaining four to five feet advantage every ball. In T20, every ball matters. How many games go to the last ball?"
On Sunday, Ashwin also found support from his new IPL boss Parth Jindal, who felt the senior bowler had shown "a lot of courage" in running out Jos Buttler while captaining Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2019
"Rules are rules and every batsman should follow them," Jindal told Gulf News. "What Ashwin did on that occasion took a lot of courage, frankly I don't know whether I would have done the same. It will not be right for me to comment on it as a lot has been said already. If you remember Mahendra Singh Dhoni's dismissal in the World Cup semi-finals (last year), he was run out just by inches. If he wasn't, India would have possibly made it to the finals."
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo