Opinion: Can we shut up about the Mankad?!

Blog Opinion

As we enter the second week of the coverage of Jos Buttler being run out by Sachithra Senanayake I have lost patience.

I have tried to not write something about Mankad run outs. I have written about them before and my view hasn't changed. I have tweeted plenty about it, but I have made a conscious effort to not add to the plethora of blogs, opinion pieces and newspaper columns that have taken up the subject.

As we enter the second week of the coverage of Jos Buttler being run out by Sachithra Senanayake I have lost patience.

It isn't one comment piece that has set me off. It is the number of them and the level of pompous guff they were filled with. Paul Newman of the Daily Mail went for an extreme approach. He suggested a radical solution if one of your children performed a Mankad run out. He wrote 'I hope you would put them up for adoption because it is unedifying and shabby'.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan told us that he wouldn't have let the appeal stand. Jos Buttler wasn't trying to 'steal a run', he was only out by a 'couple of inches'. In a time of TV replays upholding run outs where a player is millimeters short of his ground a couple of inches is not an insignificant distance.

Stuart Broad took up the debate in his column, also in the Daily Mail. He too was disgusted by Senanayake's decision to run out Buttler. Anyone who compared it to not walking was 'naive' Broad wrote. He told us people don't walk so it was OK, and people don't do Mankad run outs so they are not.

He is right to say that the two shouldn't be compared, because neither one of them is wrong. Leaving a decision up to an official is fine. Carrying out a dismissal that is completely within the rules is fine.

The Spirit of Cricket isn't about walking, or not running out batsmen who back up to far. It is about having respect for your opponents, officials and the game. That it should be Broad that is invoking the Spirit of Cricket to condemn Sri Lanka is an irony so base that you can't help but laugh. Broad regularly mouths off to opponents and questions the decision of umpires. That is breaching the Spirit of the game.

The Spirit of Cricket, the real written down one, is broken in almost every game of professional of cricket that is played, and plenty that take place on village greens and open spaces around the world.

Those that think Mankading is wrong will tell you it is wrong because it is wrong. While they are confident in this logic it doesn't really stand up to any sort of scrutiny.
Here is why Mankading is not an issue.

Batting is about risk and reward. You play an attacking shot that brings you run, but that same stroke can lead to your dismissal. There is a reason why a six is worth more than a four, because one comes with more risk than the other. The same is true of backing up.

If you get a headstart you are less likely to be run out at the other end, but you are taking a risk in doing so. If a batsman can set off for a run before the ball is bowled with impunity it is yet another example of bowlers getting a rough end of the deal.

By all means back up as far as you can, but by doing so you are risking being run out. This isn't about morals, or notions of right or wrong. It is the rules of the game. If you are out of your crease you are risking being dismissed.

Why one perfectly legitimate dismissal is considered inappropriate is completely illogical. We never get an explanation as to why this upsets people. Only that it does.

But perhaps more frustrating than the sanctimonious nonsense that has spewed forth over the last week is that it is yet another example of the cricket media focusing on inconsequential trivia rather than the big picture.

When the Mankad happened I predicted it would get more coverage than ICC governance failings and match fixing allegations. This has indeed come to pass.

If you want to know why cricket has problems, just think about that for a second. How the game is run, and whether we can trust the veracity of results gets less column inches than a man being dismissed in a way that is entirely within the laws of the game.

Perhaps the last word on this should come from Sir Donald Bradman, a man who played in the game where Vinoo Mankad gave his name to this dismissal.

<i>"For the life of me, I can't understand why [the press] questioned his sportsmanship. The laws of cricket make it quite clear that the nonstriker must keep within his ground until the ball has been delivered. If not, why is the provision there which enables the bowler to run him out? By backing up too far or too early, the nonstriker is very obviously gaining an unfair advantage."</i>

<b>Peter Miller</b>

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