To Mankad Or Not?

Cricket lovers will of course recognize from the title of this blog post that “Mankad” here is used as a verb. But isn’t Mankad a name of a cricketer of yore? Yes, it is and Vinoo Mankad, one of India’s best all rounders has the distinction of having a type of dismissal named after him! If I am not mistaken, this is the only form of dismissal in cricket named after an individual!! Caught, stumped, bowled, and so on not being the names of players!!

This subject- which I hadn’t thought off for long- came back to my attention in yesterday’s Indian Premier League (IPL) match. Ravi Ashwin of Delhi Capitals gave the Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman, Aaron Finch, a warning that he could ” Mankad” him if he left the crease and wandered out before he (the bowler) delivered the ball. He later tweeted that batsmen should take this as a final warning!

For the uninitiated to the rules of cricket, this manner of dismissing a batsman came into being during the India vs. Australia Test series in 1947-48. Vinoo Mankad, then Indian’s premier all- rounder did what from then on came to be called a “Mankad”. He ran out Bill Brown in the Test Match in Sydney when Brown the non-striker batsman strayed outside his crease before the ball was delivered by Mankad.

At that time, the media howled about the lack of sportsmanship on Mankad’s part. They complained that it was a pretty cheap way of getting a batsman out. The legendary Don Bradman though said it was entirely within the laws of the game.

In future years there have been more cases in test cricket and International one day matches where batsmen have been ‘ Mankaded” so to speak! Ravi Ashwin brought this mode of dismissal to the Indian Premier League ( IPL) in 2019. Bowling for Kings XI Punjab, he “Mankaded” Jos Buttler of the Rajasthan Royals without giving him any gentlemanly warning! This incident created quite a controversy at that time.

But to return to Ashwin and Finch and the present. Ashwin’s not running Finch out, in this case, didn’t matter at all. Finch scored only 13 and RCB scored 137/9 chasing a target of 197. But imagine if Finch had scored a hundred! What if -after that friendly warning -he had scored a brilliant and match winning innings? Sure, some would have applauded Ashwin’s sporting spirit in warning Finch. But had the match been won by RCB, many would have blasted Ashwin. for being too considerate in the modern game. You know the high stakes involved in a tournament such as the IPL.

I can think of at least one match where a sporting gesture lost a team the match. Coutney Walsh the West Indian fast bowler did not run out Saleem Jaffer of Pakistan in the 1987 World Cup. He just warned him but Pakistan went on to win the match. You may recall that the West Indies were then knocked out of the tournament. So much for the sporting spirit!

Batsmen, in today’s T20 cricket, already have so much in their favor than the bowlers. Look at the rules regarding field setting in the first six overs; the strictness shown by umpires for wides and no balls; the number of balls they can bowl ( a maximum of 24 legal deliveries in 4 overs vs many more a batsman can face, the maximum possible being all 20 overs) etc. etc. You will agree that it is really tough being a bowler in the modern T20 game.

In my view Ashwin was very kind in letting off Finch with a warning. Ashwin’s team won the match so the matter ended there.
I go back to my earlier question: making the most of a chance and warning, what if Finch had gone on to make a match winning contribution with the bat?

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