Controversy is seldom too far away when the greatest T20 league in the world, the IPL, is on. The teams are generally well-matched and as we all know in the ultra-short format of the game any team can beat any other team, even a stronger one. The tension and pressure can be unbearable. A couple of deliveries can change the complexion of a game completely.
It was a couple of deliveries in two different matches that caused the biggest controversies in the first week of this year’s edition. The first was when Ravichandran Ashwin ran out Jos Buttler for backing up too far before the ball was delivered. Buttler was not amused, as no batsman run out in this manner ever will be, and made his displeasure very clear as he stormed off the field.
The umpires on the field, the TV umpire and the match referee did not file a complaint against the batsman, consumed as they were with the controversy caused by a seldom used mode of dismissal. So Buttler got away as even the ICC didn’t press any charges.
The ICC CEO can lay a charge within 24 hours if the on-field umpires or the match referee have not done so. But it was not done, for what reason we still don’t know.
The same happened the next day after a blatant no-ball from Lasith Malinga was not called by the umpire, who was clearly seen looking straight ahead and not at the popping crease where the bowler’s front foot lands. That was the last ball of the match and Virat Kohli’s team lost by six runs. By the time the players walked off the field the TV replays had shown the umpiring neglect, for that’s the only thing you can call it, and not an error.
Kohli was understandably furious and didn’t mince words. Neither did his counterpart Rohit Sharma, who had in the previous over seen a ball called wide when it clearly wasn’t one.
Like Buttler, both captains got away without any sanctions as neither the umpires nor the match referee reported them for criticising the match officials. And the ICC CEO once again chose not to act, for whatever reasons he had.
What was most disappointing about the run-out was the Indian media still calling it as ‘Mankaded’ and once again showing a lack of respect to an Indian cricketing legend.
Vinoo Mankad was one of the greatest all-rounders the game has seen and but for an incompetent Australian journalist who coined the word ‘Mankaded’ for a run-out, which is allowed by the laws of the game, the dismissal would have just been called a run-out by the bowler.
Even Sir Don Bradman, who was the captain of the Australian team then, had no complaints about Vinoobhai doing what he did and that too after having warned the offender Bill Brown more than once not to do so. If the non-striker still continues to take advantage of the extra inches then why blame the bowler? But, as we all know, the Australian media has always been a part of the support staff of the Australian team and so won’t see anything wrong with its players. So this incompetent journo calls the mode of dismissal as Mankad and it has stuck.
The blind following can be seen in Harbhajan Singh being called Turbanator even though he has never worn a turban on the field. What Sikhs wear on the sporting arena is called ‘patka’. Since an overseas journo had nicknamed him thus, the rest of the world follows unthinkingly. It’s like every scam or scandal being called this gate or that gate after Watergate.
Michael Atherton, the former England captain, in a perceptive article headlined, ‘Dozy batsmen give Vinoo Mankad a bad name,’ brought out how it is entirely the non-striker’s responsibility to stay within the crease till the ball is bowled. Today, with TV coverage being so good and batsmen either making it home or being short of the crease by a few centimetres, it makes even more sense for non-strikers not to try to get that advantage by leaving the crease before the ball is released. This mode of dismissal also brings up the question of the spirit of the game, but when it is clearly within the laws where does the spirit come in? Where is the spirit of the game when a batsman stays at the crease despite knowing he has edged the ball and is out caught? Where is the spirit of the game when bowlers appeal knowing fully well that the batsman is not out? Where is the spirit of the game when two players get into abusive verbal spats with each other?
Does a batsman who knows he is out caught and stays at the crease get called by journos as doing a ‘C......Y’ after a great batsman? This legend was apparently the first big player to not walk even after knowing he was out when the game was called a gentlemen’s game. There’s even a lecture named after him.
Is a bowler, who appeals theatrically knowing that the batsman is not out, called doing a ‘L.......E’ after a great fast bowler of the past? No.
Is a fielder who appeals for a bump ball catch referred to as doing a ‘W......H’ after TV replays had shown him doing so and getting a legendary Windies batsman out? No.
Then please stop insulting an Indian legend by calling a run out by the bowler as doing a Mankad.
More importantly, my Indian media friends please show some respect for an Indian legend and call it either ‘Browned’ after the Aussie batsman, who wandered out of his crease, or simply a run-out by the bowler.