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Mankading Butler - Ashwin did the right thing – Kapil Dev

Kings XI Punjab skipper and off spinner Ashwin dismissed Rajasthan Royals’ Jos Buttler without giving him a prior warning by running him out before delivering the ball the incident – so called “Mankading” had attracted a lot of support and criticism from across the cricket fraternity. As per the rules, a bowler is within his right to dismiss a batsman who leaves the crease before the ball is being released. As guardians of the laws, MCC have come down in favour of the bowler, India’s Ravi Ashwin, rather than the non-striker, England’s Jos Buttler, in their judgment on the Mankading incident in the IPL.

MCC stressed that Mankading no longer involves the Spirit of Cricket: the non-striker is entirely responsible for not being caught out of his ground. And the bowler is no longer expected to warn the non-striker before running him out for backing up too far. Few days later, MCC changed its stance because Ashwin paused after his delivery stride and waited for Buttler to leave the crease before whipping the bails off. "We believe the pause was too long between the time Ashwin reached the crease and the moment it was reasonable to expect the ball would be delivered. When Buttler could have reasonably expected the ball to be delivered, he was in his ground. We now think at the key moment Buttler was in his ground” statement added.

The reaction to this dismissal were far and wide. Sunrisers Hyderabad’s David Warner was extra cautious while Ravichandran Ashwin operated in the IPL in their latest match, deliberately dragging his bat inside the safe zone to avoid becoming a victim of ‘Mankading’. Warner was seen taking precaution by keeping his bat inside the crease during Ashwin’s over. Warner who was at the non-striker’s end, kept dragging his bat inside the safe zone to ensure that he does not become Ashwin’s ‘Mankad’ victim. The Australian’s antics was quickly picked up by the cameras and replayed on the big screen.

"There is nothing to defend," Ashwin said after the incident. "As I said in the press conference that day, it happened instinctively, it was not a plan that 'Buttler will go outside (the crease) and I have to get him'. Although he did do it four or five times. They didn't want to take risks against my bowling that day, so what they were doing was pushing the ball on the legside and trying to take twos. I saw that he'd done it (backing up too far) four or five times, and it's there in the rules that if the batsman goes out of his crease, you can run him out. It's the batsman's responsibility to stay behind the crease. The most important thing for me is what is my conscience saying, and my conscience is clear," Ashwin added.

Ashwin had a great support from none other than former Indian skipper Kapil Dev. “Ashwin did the right thing. You can argue if it was ethical or not. He did it within the rules of the game and that’s it. Why blame the bowler when the batsman was trying to steal a run? I will see how many people blame Ashwin if these two points help his team qualify,” Kapil said. Kapil was livid that Ashwin was being targeted. “I know one thing. It is fine to say that he should have warned the batsman. That may have been an ethical thing to do in a gentleman’s game. It is not so any more. The game has become professional. The IPL is a very intense competition and what Ashwin did was to ensure the opponent stuck to the rules,” said Kapil, who had pulled off a similar run-out in an ODI at Port Elizabeth in 1992.

“At that time, I thought I was ethically wrong but then I had warned him three times. The explanation he gave was that he was trying to match the speed of Jonty Rhodes at the other end. Was it fair? Don’t you call no-ball when the bowler over-steps? Why should the batsman then not be penalised?” asked Kapil. “Do the batsmen ‘walk’. Hardly any. Is it not unethical? Do they say don’t count the extra run/ runs when the ball gets deflected (by their bat or body) from a throw? They don’t! Would any batsman refuse to accept such gifts when the team stands to win? He won’t. Let this ‘spirit of the game’ business apply to batsmen too. Why should only bowlers take the responsibility of maintaining the spirit of the game when they are not breaking any rule.” Kapil concluded by insisting that Ashwin was not cheating. “It is the batsman who was trying to steal. Such batsman, in my opinion, is a thief.” The older player thinks it is unacceptable, but I believe younger cricketers see it as an acceptable mode of dismissal and that could lead to nasty moments.

Shane Warne took to Twitter to voice his opinion about the incident. He slammed Ashwin in a series of tweets talking about the spirit of the game. Since then, fans have slammed Warne as he was also sometimes involved in incidents against the spirit of the game. Dean Jones tweeted “Don’t blame Ashwin here. As it’s allowed in the Laws of the game. How is it disrespectful or against the spirit of the game if it’s allowed within the Laws of game? Blame the administrators for making the Law.” There were tweets demanding who violated the spirit. “As for the spirit of cricket nonsense (what is this spirit thing anyway?) there are two men here: 1. The batsman who wanted to take advantage of the bowler 2. The bowler who acted within the rules and was not stupid. Who violated the "spirit"?

Former cricketers and experts from England in particular have slammed the Mankading act, questioning Ashwin for being unsporting and not keeping in mind the ethics of the game. Latest to join the bandwagon is legendary England bowler James Anderson, who showcased his anger on Ashwin in the most violent fashion. In a video that’s doing the rounds on Twitter, James Anderson can be seen taking an image of Ravichandran Ashwin and running it through a paper shredder – thereby ripping him to bits. The India star, while saying that he has absolutely ‘no regrets’ over the Mankad, stated that he would not be surprised if Anderson does the same in near future. “Today Jimmy Anderson might feel that whatever I did was wrong. Maybe, tomorrow he might end up doing (Mankading) it. Who knows, it is all a question of perception of right and wrong. I don’t think in this case it is necessary because it is in the law and I did,” Ravichandran Ashwin said.

Ashwin has received a lot of support, particularly in India, but also by a lot of other commentators and fans, another sign of how important winning has become to some people. This is the second time Buttler has been out in this fashion. One could say he has a problem with this dismissal. Although he may not try to gain an advantage, but surely, he will stay behind the line in future.

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