IPL diary: 'Penalise the batsman for backing up too far'

R. Ashwin should have run Aaron Finch, says Kapil Dev; a session with spin legend Shane Warne, and quiz time for Royal Challengers Bangalore.

When the law allows, insists Kapil, the bowler should run out the non-striker.   -  Vivek Bendre

Kapil Dev is agitated. He wants to know, “Will cricket always remain a batsman’s game?” Why is the onus on “keeping alive the spirit of the game” only on the bowler? Can you play cricket “without bowlers” and how long are the bowlers going to be at the “receiving end?”

The incident involving R. Ashwin and Aaron Finch in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) once again brought the Indian off-spinner in the news and this time for not running the batsman who had backed too far. “Ashwin should have run him out. As simple as that,” thundered Kapil, who had once run out South African batsman Peter Kirsten similarly in a One-Day International at Port Elizabeth in 1992-93.

“I did feel bad about what had happened, but then I had to (run him out) because Peter just wouldn’t mend his ways of straying down the pitch even before I had bowled,” said Kapil. “Not that I enjoyed doing what I did, but he was not being fair. His argument was that he had to do it to match the running speed of his (partner) Jonty Rhodes. That was not my headache.”

It certainly was Ashwin’s headache because, as Kapil emphasised, the stakes are much higher now. “There is such scrutiny that a no-ball is watched so very closely by the technology available. Of course, a no-ball is not a legal delivery, but then, is the batsman not ‘stealing’ the run by standing outside the crease to gain unfair advantage?” asked Kapil.

As Kapil pointed out, “Isn’t there a law in this regard?” According to the International Cricket Council’s Law 42.15, “The bowler is permitted, before releasing the ball and provided he has not completed his usual delivery swing, to attempt to run out the non-striker.” When the law allows, insists Kapil, the bowler should “run out” the non-striker. “It’s a rule. There’s no spirit of the game involved here,” said Kapil.

For Kartik Murali, the “spirit of the game” is a “ridiculous” argument. “It’s spirit of the game if a bowler plays by the law. Where is this written? This spirit of the game! Which book has this been explained in? Which bookstore can I purchase this phantom book that explains the spirit of the game.”

Kartik has run out the non-striker six times for backing too far. Playing for Surrey, Kartik ran out Alex Barrow of Somerset at Taunton in the 2013 County Championship. There was an uproar, but Kartik defended his act and was supported strongly by Sunil Gavaskar. “Each time on those six occasions I had warned the non-striker. If it comes to it, I would do this 10 times in an innings. Why should the batsman get unfair advantage? They have to remove the stigma attached to a bowler running out the non-striker for backing up too far,” added Kartik.

The debate on the “spirit of the game” has always invited widespread responses. Sunil Gavaskar has always supported the bowler and had sprung to the defence of Kartik. In Kapil’s opinion, a simple solution is “penalise the batsman with a short-run ruling. Or a five-run penalty can be a strong deterrent. Two runs to win off the last ball. You run two. And then the umpire rules one run short. I want to see how many batsmen would stand outside the crease if the rule of short run is introduced for backing too far,” said Kapil.

Warne’s masterclass

It’s not every day that you get to learn a thing or two from Shane Warne. For young Rajasthan Royals spinners Shreyas Gopal and Rahul Tewatia, it was an exciting evening as they had a masterclass with the Aussie spin legend, who is also the mentor and brand ambassador of the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise.

As Warne advised the youngsters on how to approach a match and play mind games with the batsmen, Royals captain Steve Smith was all ears, too. “If you keep your action stronger, you have more chance of landing it. You can go quicker in your last couple of steps, so it’s not all at the crease. It might help you a bit more,” Warne told Gopal.

Aussie spin legend Shane Warne, who led Rajasthan Royals to the 2008 title, is mentor and brand ambassador of the IPL franchise.   -  Sportzpics / BCCI

 

The franchise posted a video on Twitter in which Warne was seen telling Gopal how to keep his cool under pressure. “If you are under the pump and you have tried your faster one into the pitch and tried all that and have gone for 6, 4, 6, you are like: ‘What do I bowl?’ You have got to make sure that it’s the hardest shot a batsman hit for a six,” Warne said.

The Royals spinners have struggled so far and Warne motivated them and also suggested that they should not rush things.

Quiz time!

Staying inside the bio-bubble for nearly three months is a challenge and the franchises are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the players are motivated. While team rooms have been set up for the players to cool their heels, franchises are also opting for musical evenings and other interactive activities for team bonding.

Royal Challengers Bangalore had a fun team session recently, where stand-up comedian Danish Sait — who is popular as Mr Nags — hosted a quiz for the team members. The questions ranged from cricket to world trivia, including one on a West Indies cricketer who has played for the national teams in both cricket and football. However, nobody knew the answer, and eventually the quizmaster had to reveal the name — Vivian Richards. As the franchise posted the video on Twitter, Richards acknowledged the question and also thanked the host for including it in the fun session.