Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mankading & "Spirit of Cricket"

Mankading - the act of a bowler running out the non-striker batsman before bowling the ball has always been a source of needless controversy. 

In fact for some weird reason it has become a test of the "sportsman spirit" of a bowler who does not do the "Mankad". Cortney Walsh has received a medal for not running out Salim Yousuf. But if the bowler does Mankad, like Sachitra Senanayake did to Jos Buttler, all hell breaks lose. The bowler and the fielding captain are accused of having destroyed "the spirit of cricket" - the greatest crime imaginable in the gentlemans's game.

Well here are my two bits on Mankading.
It is within the laws of the game. In fact there is a specific law for the situation, hence no ambiguity is possible. Law 42(15) states - "The bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to attempt to run out the non-striker. Whether the attempt is succesful or not, the ball shall not count as one of the over. If the bowler fails to run out the non-striker, the umpire shall call and signal Dead ball as soon as possible". 

So if there exists a specific law which states what are the consequences of a bowler breaking the stumps with the non-striker outside his crease, then why the hue and cry? The "spirit of cricket" has already been murdered many a time (Fixing, Corruption, Walking/Not walking etc.) by different sets of players, officials and administrators. Guess that is why it exists in "spirit" form.

Here the batsman was wandering outside the crease and with run-out decisions sometimes become a matter of TV frames, then it does become an advantage for the non-striker to back up as far ahead as possible. In this case, Buttler had been warned twice by Senanayake in his previous over. (Which is where the matter of cricket's spirit should rest, which seemingly is not the case). And when Buttler was found wandering out again he was run-out. A result very rightly deserved. 

So the right decision was taken on action justified and well within the laws and more importantly the previous over Senanayake having shown the proper "spirit" also, guess Buttler should have nothing to complain about. Don't see any justifications for the hue and cry it has raised.  Nor do I see why the batsman is being portrayed as a victim, when its his own actions which are to be blamed for his fate.

To me its clear, Senanayake and the rest were well within their rights to run-out Buttler. And no harm was caused to the so called "spirit of the game".

Closing Notes - a couple of interesting exhibits on Mankading
Exhibit A - The original report on Mankading

Exhibit B - Chris Gayle showing "spirit" of game. Again the dancing might not be agreeable to the believers in the Gentlemen's game.

Now its up to ICC to either (a) tinker with the laws, which they love to do a lot; OR (b) tell the players that Mankading does no harm done to the "spirit of cricket" 

Monday, June 2, 2014

IPL7: The AfterThoughts

The 7th edition of the Indian Premier League has come to an end. And Congratulations to Kolkata Knight Riders for their second IPL title. After an embarrassing defeat to Rajasthan in which they lost 6 wickets for 2 runs they have really lifted their game and were deserving winners in the end.

Now the time to note down some after-thoughts (not a review) from this year's IPL.
  • The Impossible Chases - The tougher the ask, the higher the stakes, the more seemingly easy it becomes to chase it down. The team batting second knows the target and also the fact that they can only win if they go slam-bang from the first ball. And apparently this belief is actually carrying them to victory. Examples - KKR chased down 160 in under 15 overs to finish 2nd in the League; Mumbai Indians chased 191 in 14.3 to enter the qualifiers; CSK blitzed 100 in 6 overs in a chase of 227; Rajasthan smashed 65 in 3 overs to win with an over to spare. And it all culminated in the final with KKR chasing down 200.
  • The previous edition of the IPL was under the spot-fixing cloud. This year, thankfully, no such corruption allegations have emerged, as yet (fingers crossed). Though given the Lou Vincent & Player X stories coming out, sceptics want to see everything through tinted glasses. And that is the damage which has been done by the fixers.
  • The IPL unfolds like a story. Its a little long drawn but this year's script had the perfect climax. The events from the last set of league matches down to the final must have been the perfect dream run for the marketing teams.
  • The final stretch also highlighted the importance of the "Indian" part of the IPL. Manan Vohra, Wriddhiman Saha, Manish Pandey, Akshar Patel, Yusuf Pathan & Piyush Chawla in the final; Sehwag & Raina in the eliminator. It was mostly an Indian show towards the end.
  • Congratulations to Yusuf Pathan, for becoming the first player to be part of 3 IPL winning squads - once with Rajasthan and twice with KKR.
  • Special congratulations to Vinay Kumar, Roni Uthappa & Manish Pandey for winning their 4th domestic title of the year - Irani Trophy, Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy & the IPL.
  • Special Mention - Suresh Raina. He is the IPL GOAT (Greatest of All Time). The highest scores across seasons is the most reliable batsman and fielder in IPL with the happy habit of taking key wickets as well. And most importantly performing in crunch matches. The blitzkrieg against Kings XI was one to be remembered, though in a losing cause.
  • The umpiring standards in India are pretty poor. But the umpires are under far greater scrutiny than ever before. Its a tough ask made tougher by the technological hindsight provided to everyone except the people responsible for making decisions.
  • The Club vs Country Conundrum - This is not going to end ever. And the only one who has a right to make a decision is the player concerned. Though the club and the country do both need to have a slightly flexible approach in the matters. Sunil Narine chose to play in the IPL final over joining a West Indies Test camp. He did produce his worst performance of the season. Maybe this off-field drama was to be blamed or maybe he just had a bad day in office. But no player should have to make such choices.
  • And finally a word on the winners - Kolkata Knight Riders was a team made up mostly of India discards. But one by one all the pieces fell in place - Uthappa, Gambhir, Umesh, Chawla, Shakib, Narine, Surya Yadav and Manish Pandey - they became the strongest team in the whole lineup. A couple of them even made their India comebacks.
  • And a word about the final - Sony Max couldn't resist playing Veer Zaara right before the finals :P

So the IPL fest concludes and now back to serious cricket. Tours of Bangladesh and England beckon for the team. Its a good idea to test the bench strength in the Bangladesh ODI series (only good use this hastily arranged series can have).  And then off to a 5-Test series against England. Hopefully results will be drastically different from the 2011 tour.