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Why we are all wrong about Mankading


The act of ‘Mankading’ has recently been changed in the Laws of Cricket to give something back to professional bowlers in T20 tournaments. The act of a bowler running out a non-striker is a new professional rule in a slow-moving players game. It’s impact at grass roots level is a significant cultural shift from once staunch ideals of the game.

 

Then and now


 

Here is the first instance of the term 'Mankad' used in 1947 when Vinoo Mankad run out non striker Bill Brown at Sydney in 1947

 

 

Here's the most recent professional 'Mankad' in the Pakistani Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.

 

Erudite Shakespeare Quote to lend gravitas


 

‘Fair is foul and foul is fair…’

 

The Witches, Macbeth Act 1 Scene 1

 

Back in My Day


 

 Mr Coglhan had me sitting outside his office for an eternity. All the other kids had escaped to their parents station wagons and out into the vast savannahs of the summertime weekend. I stared at the back of the wood panelled door, crucifix hanging above, wondering what it was that I had done wrong.

 

After the bearded Principal arrived in his office after having closed the school gates he sat across the desk from me and did not waste a moment in saying;

 

‘If you ever, EVER, do that again in any form of cricket, I will be incredibly disappointed in you’

 

Bugger. That stung…

 

To give Mr C his due, his delivery to a cricket obsessed and slightly anxious grade 6 was spot on; The big d-bomb from a Catholic Primary School Principal and cricket coach.

 

That was like your parents and God and your teachers getting together and sending the big man in to serve papers and then Tazo-slam you after lapping you on Mario Kart.

 

It turns out that Mankading a kid from Ivanhoe Primary School on a Friday afternoon was a sure-fire way to get you a papal style reckoning that would weep like stigmata into a long and sad park cricket career.

 

I’d noticed Xavier Izzard (yep, still remember his name) had been leaving the crease before I’d sent down my mediums and decided that I’d tip the bails off to run the kid out seeing as Ivanhoe PS were a big school that usually belted us Catholics by heaps.

 

The same thing had happened against Ivanhoe East the week before when one of their bowlers noticed my team mate wandering out of his ground. The opposition had appealed and my teammate was out.

 

I had figured, at 11 that this was par for the course; a rule you could use and abide by.

 

I’ve got a gigantic slice of Catholic Guilt (seriously, one of the greatest mind control techniques in history) that says that it was not.

 

This incident was a game changer – just because it’s in the rules doesn’t mean it’s always ok.

 

Certainly, there’s a side of the coin that I’ve fallen on since; Bodyline was no good. Underarm was unconscionable. Chinese swimmers and Selwood’s ducking questionable.

 

This was a seminal piece of my greater education and one that I lean on.

 

It's totally 'a thing'


 

 Ok so mankading, yeah it was always a pretty awful way to get out.

 

It was sort of like being told that your insurance had lapsed a day before a prang or that you’d missed a Tiger Airlines flight boarding by 22 seconds. Totally within the rules and totally legal but still really stiff.

 

Here is the part of the problem of mankading; the punishment of being dismissed is achieved without the inherent cricketing contest between bat and ball. There’s no stumps flying, no big appeal just the quiet tip of the bails and confused looks from umpires, captains and players. It sucks.

 

My recent attempt at a baseball analogy by way of explanation to my American squeeze got me nowhere. Indeed, this is one of the total peculiarities of the game of cricket. A rule so specific with so many various readings.

 

If you have no idea what it is or how it is done I suggest you take a look at this by way of explanation.

 

So back in the day, the bowler could pull out part way through with his bowling action and hold on to the ball. This would often deceive the batsmen into thinking the ball had in fact been bowled (due to the motion of the bowler) and they would leave the crease.

 

Yep, it was the ‘down-low-too-slow’ arrangement of cricket and the batter could be left feeling kind of duped.

 

The sliding door opportunity here is that cricketing tradition would dictate that a warning could be offered to the batsmen to stay in his crease. This way the spirit of the game was upheld, nobody lost face and the bowler generally took the moral high ground.

 

This was a highly complex ritual that was mostly upheld to avoid any sticky situations.

 

It’s ridiculous, yes, but so is going to your cousins Lord of The Rings Themed engagement party or air kissing your best mates second tinder date like you’re eternal life-long pals despite your thought that they’re just not their type.

 

The custom of forgiving this transgression seemed to be crickets way of coughing, looking at its shoes and saying ‘Oh, bother. Can’t have anything untoward. Better try that again’.

 

Stuffy and weird but awfully quaint. Very much like the game itself.

 

'I've told yiz once, I've told yiz a thousand times...'


 

It was widely accepted, at least in the Australian landscape that once the warning had been administered, all bets were off and a second offence would render an appeal that would be upheld and the non-striker sent packing.

 

All seemed fair in love and war.

 

The English reading seems to have been that the Mankad is a no-no at ANY stage even after warnings had been issued.

 

A 2014 One Day Series saw English Middle order Jos Buttler given out after several warnings from Sri Lanka. The English reactions give a strong indication of their stance on this type of dismissal.

 

 

Overall, the fixture was finished in a disappointing manner; without the anticipated contest between bat and ball.

 

To dismiss this disappointment as an old school approach to the sport would be unfair. The game had been robbed of an exciting finish (Buttler was the last recognised batsman) with a brilliant catch or a tailender toughing it out. The act of the mankad itself feeling innocuous, an actual ‘brainfade’ moment from the batsman devoid of any lusty swing or crash of wicket.

 

In 2012 however, Vinider Sewag rescinded an appeal for Mankadding from Ravi Ahwin at the Gabba vs Sri Lanka. Sehwag said, "because if we appealed and umpire gave him out, then somebody will criticise that, you know, that was not spirit of the game".

 

This was despite some acknowledement from opposing Mahela Jayawardene that the offending batsman had already been warned earlier in the innings.

 

"The rules have changed, I know, to try to make sure there is no advantage given to the batsman," Jayawardene said. "I probably felt there was a little bit of fault in our guy as well in trying to do that, to be honest. But I mean, end of the day, spirit of the game was the winner."

 

So here we are dealing with perception; If a Mankad is completed and upheld, what are the ramifications for the game being played?

 

The Vibe


 

To Mankad a player in a game of park cricket can be seen to be taking the game a little too seriously. Nobody is getting paid. There’s no ‘hawkeye’. Batsmen have probably had to drop their kids on a Grandparent to get free for a few hours.

 

The striker being out of his crease is almost always by mistake rather than design given that if they are within a bulls roar of the line for a runout, they’ll be called safe anyway by their mate leaning on a broom at square leg.

 

To deploy this rule without a warning could be viewed as unnecessarily ruthless. Given the mix of ages in lower grades things could seem particularly brutal if a plucky junior was to send an elderly cricketer packing for toddling off a little early.

 

In many fixtures, the relationship between teams is a genuine consideration; if things descend in a two day match it can be a long time to be stuck with a group of players that don’t think much of you and your team.

 

Simply pointing to the rule book on this one will not win any favours or understanding. This is going to take some adjustment over the coming seasons.

 

The Reality


 

 

 

 

The simple fact of the matter is that there must be a rule to prevent the batsman from gaining an advantage otherwise cricket would be a terribly lopsided game.

 

A rule must be in place and the latest changes have made the position of the non-striker before the delivery of the ball clear.

 

This blog post from the MCC is about as emphatic as things will get in this debate.

 

The latest adjustment to the rule around running the non-striker out has been decisive but not put to rest any of the history surrounding the dismissal. It has been seen as customary or gentlemanly to offer a warning to the non-striker first, indeed as Vinoo Mankad himself did to Bill Brown in 1947.

 

In doing so it has marginalised a particularly unique and tangiable part of cricket whereby a team had something to hang its hat on in terms of being sporting (or being seen to be so).

 

This natural period of adjustment will see batsmen starting further back to ensure they do not cause themselves the embarrassment suffered by WAPDA in Pakistan last week.

 

Further, the dismissal will become rarer as coaches train a generation of cricketers to take far greater care.

 

It is hard to argue against preventing the batsman from gaining unfair advantage by making the new law more stringent and placing onus on the non-striker. Still, there’s a few teams in my comp I’d think very seriously about offering a number of warnings to and likely to be some unhappy cricketers in the coming seasons.

 

Perhaps I should leave the last word to my American student, as she tried to grasp the situation by way of Baseball;

 

‘Oh you can lead off a base if you want to get a head start. You just can’t complain when you get tagged’

 

With that, the hurly burly was done. The battle lost and won.


Dan Toomey wrote this article. He opens the batting for The Royal Park Reds and has adjusted his backing up technique after several non-strikers have been run out by The Royal Park Reds. He continues to contribute to the debate around this dismissal and how it effects the way the game is played.

 

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