arnab gupta

Of Cricket, Mankad-ing, and the Spirit of the Game

February 03, 2016

The Under-19 cricket world cup is on, and there has been a lot of controversy about a West Indies bowler running a Zimbabwean batsman out as he came in to bowl. Colloquially, this is called ‘Mankad’-ing, and some people view this form of dismissal as “not quite done”. As it happens every time, lots of people are talking about “spirit of the game” and “no warnings issued to the batsman”.

I think those people are in the wrong.

(Here’s the video.)

What would these same people say when a bowler gets a wicket, but his heel is found to be where the bat is spotted in our case? “Spirit of the game”, and give the batsman out? “Give a warning to the bowler”, and give the batsman out? No, of course not, because the rulebook says some part of the bowler’s foot must stay behind the line. The bowler made a mistake, and is penalized for it.

Well, guess what the rulebook says in this case.

Also, to be clear, backing up itself is not illegal; backing up too early is. ICC playing conditions says that the bowler may attempt this dismissal only if he has not completed his delivery swing. So, in effect, once the bowler is in the middle of rolling his bowling arm over to bowl, the bowler can no longer run the batsman out, and the batsman is free to start backing up.

In my opinion, “spirit of the game” issues should only come up when a) the fielding side resorts to subterfuge, or b) it is “obvious” that the batsman is not attempting to take an advantage, and is behaving as if the play is dead. For examples of this second case, see:

In our present case, the batsman was definitely attempting to take advantage, and his opponent ran him out perfectly legally. The batsman made a mistake, and was penalized for it. What’s wrong with that, and what’s all this about giving the batsman a second chance?!

Play on, I say! (Or in this case, game over!)