Mankading has always been a topic of controversy in the sport of cricket. While many believe it to be an unfair law that violates the spirit of the game, others consider it to be well within the spirit. The law continues to have divided opinions, to date.
Meanwhile, it was during the IPL 2019 when the law suddenly came into the limelight, once again. It was a heavily debated topic after Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who was playing for Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), dismissed English wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler similarly, who was playing for Rajasthan Royals (RR).
Recently, Ashwin raised the issue, once again, as he suggested a couple of laws to curb the incident and refrain non-strikers from backing up. While the debate lingers, Ashwin continues to defend himself for going by the rulebook.
What is Backing Up and Mankading?
According to Wikipedia, “As a bowler enters his delivery stride, the non-striking batsman usually ‘backs up’. This means he leaves his popping crease and walks towards the other end of the wicket so that it will take him less time to reach the other end if he and his batting partner choose to attempt a run. Sometimes a batsman, whilst backing up, leaves the popping crease before the bowler has actually delivered the ball. Where this has happened, the bowler may attempt to run the non-striking batsman out, in accordance with the Laws of the game.”
The first recorded incident was during the 1947-48 India’s tour of Australia, where Indian spinner Vinoo Mankad dismissed Australian batsman Bill Brown on a couple of occasions. The incident happened despite Mankad having warned Brown initially. Following the incident, the Australian media accused Mankad of possessing an unsportsmanlike attitude. While the dismissal is officially known as Run-Out, it is informally referred to as Mankading.
What is Ashwin’s take to curb backing-up?
Ashwin, who has been at the receiving end, ever since the IPL 2019 incident, has recently stated that in case the non-striker does so, either the run should be disallowed or the bowler be awarded a free ball. Let us analyze the whole thing, along with other possible laws, and suggest if they make sense.
A disallowed run would mean that provided the non-striker has taken the run/s after backing-up, the run/s won’t be counted, either for the batsman, or the team.
The law makes sense since the batsman is breaking the actual law of the game to take the run. According to the law, the non-striker is supposed to stay inside the crease till the bowler has released the ball. Introducing this law would certainly help in curbing backing ups, as disallowed runs could cost the batting team heavily.
Verdict: Makes good sense
As for Ashwin’s second suggested law, the bowler should be awarded a free ball after the non-striker has backed up. While Ashwin did not explain the law, he possibly meant that while the very next delivery would not allow the batsman to score a run, it would qualify for dismissal of the batsman, which is, basically, the opposite of free hit.
The law is highly valid, as since the bowler is penalized for bowling a no-ball, the same should ideally be done with the batsmen too. It would also allow a certain amount of fair-play for the bowlers and would, in return, help in making the sport equally poised, rather than batsman-friendly.
Verdict: Makes huge sense
Other possible laws:
Among other laws, which could be introduced, I feel about a rule that could also make great sense would be to penalize a run for the batting team. It means that instead of completely disallowing the runs, the run taken due to the non-striker backing up should be deducted from the runs scored in the particular delivery.
Once again, costing a run for the team could have huge implications and is certainly something the batting team wouldn’t like. Therefore, this would aptly restrict the non-striker from backing up against the rule.
Verdict: Makes great sense
Place a cap on backing-up
There is a law that allows the bowler to bowl a limited number of short-pitched (bouncer) deliveries, above the chest, which is two per over for ODIs and one per over for T20Is. A similar cap can be placed for the non-striker backing up, following which the free ball should be awarded to the bowling side. It would allow both sides to have an even share of fair-play.
Verdict: Makes fair sense
Striker can score only in evens
As for another interesting law put forward by ESPNCricinfo, after the non-striker has backed-up, the following delivery by the bowler would result in the striker scoring only in evens, i.e. 2, 4 or 6.
While this sounds like an interesting law, it could somewhat put the batting team in a strong position, prompting the batsman to go for big runs. Furthermore, I somewhat feel this would mean diluting the game and making no sense.
Verdict: Makes no sense
Just run it out (Mankad it)
Despite suggesting some laws above, I believe that the existing rule of Mankading is well within the spirt. While many have previously called for warnings to be issued to the batsman, I feel it wouldn’t make any sense, as a batsman is not supposed to be warned before any mode of dismissal. The existing law would also allow the game to remain neutral, as the non-striker can continue to back up at his own risk.
While Mankading continues to draw the flack of critics, it is indeed a fair law. Also, back in the days when Mankad did it for the first time, even the then Australian skipper, legendary Don Bradman, defended Mankad’s actions. Therefore, it sounds appropriate that the existing law stays.
Verdict: Makes perfect sense