Thursday, 30 August 2012

Hypocrisy and the spirit of cricket

Cricket sees itself as the gentleman's sport - where the spirit of the game is just as important as the rules or regulations. While competitors in other sports dive or deceive in order to get ahead of the game in any possible way, cricket's noble code shuns anybody who doesn't play fair. So when Surrey's Murali Kartik 'Mankadded' (ran out the non-striker as he came in to bowl) Somerset's Alex Barrow in today's game at Taunton, the cricketing universe went into overdrive decrying the former Indian spinner for flouting the all-important spirit of the game. But technically neither Kartik, nor Surrey (who refused to withdraw the appeal) broke any rules - and arguably Barrow was playing against the spirit of the game by attempting to back up while the bowler was in his stride, especially considering Kartik had already had the grace to warn him about it previously. So who is in the right - and indeed, is the spirit of cricket still relevant?

Well, in this case, it seems that Kartik was in the right. While Mankadding is cricketing etiquette's biggest no-no, he had already informed both Barrow and the umpires that if his over zealous backing up continued, he would be left no option but to whip off the bails and appeal. And despite this, Barrow ignored the fairly reasonable request, and he had to go. Critics have said that Kartik completely ignored the 'spirit' of cricket - but in fact, by warning him in the first place (which under the laws he didn't have to do), he showed an understanding and respect for it that many have missed.

There is a level of hypocrisy about the 'spirit' of cricket and it's application - it's almost become accepted that some batsmen are walkers and some wait to be given, and not a great deal is said if a batsman knowingly nicks it, but isn't given out by the umpire, and remains. How different is that to Kartik's actions? Kartik worked within the rules and exploited the stupidity of the batsman to leave his crease while the ball was in play to take his wicket, whereas the non-walkers of this world willingly break a rule (that they are out if they are caught after hitting the ball) in order to continue batting. While there are differences (the non-walking batsman can claim that it's the umpire's fault for not spotting the edge), those who refuse to walk are very rarely given the kind of stick that poor Murali Kartik has had from the cricketing world today.

And deception of the umpires generally often goes unpunished from the guardians of the spirit of the game - wicket-keepers appealing after knocking off bails themselves (step forward Matt Prior), fielders claiming bump balls (Pragyan Ojha) or even AB De Villiers literally the other day lying to the umpire in order to grant himself a reprieve. But why do none of these acts of actual, against the laws treachery carry the same level of outcry as the totally within-the-laws Mankad?

For generations cricket has prided itself on being the noble sport where nobody breaks the rules and everyone plays fair, and often lauds itself over other sports because of it - but is that really the case? Contrast this example from football, where Paulo di Canio refuses to score when the opposing keeper went down with an injury, to Paul Collingwood's moment of shame in cricket, where England ran out Grant Elliot after a collision with Ryan Sidebottom. The spirit of cricket, while noble, can be used as a stick to beat teams with even when playing inside the laws, as seen in the Ian Bell run-out last year, where India, despite being well within their rights to keep the appeal, decided to withdraw it, and ultimately lose the game, thanks to pressure over the spirit of cricket. But in this era of big bucks and high pressure, is the spirit still relevant? Surrey, in a tumultuous season, are in a real relegation battle, and need all of the help they can get. So when Kartik, inside the laws, ran Barrow out, surely they would have been even more foolish than Barrow himself to allow him to stay, and possibly play an innings that might send them down? While I'm not telling cricketers to cheat as badly as Pinky the Panther did during the Mascot Derby, I'm saying that it would be naive to expect teams to not take advantage of the rules when they're available. At the end of the day, the spirit of cricket doesn't pay the bills, and while romantic fans like to think that cricket is the noblest of sports, in reality, it's just as bad as the rest of them.


  1. Like this - plan to link to it in Cricinfo county blog tomorrow morning if that's OK.
    David Hopps,

  2. Very good piece. Agree completely. You warn the batsman if he takes too much advantage. He then knows that you are in your rights to punish his transgresion. If he continues to transgress it is his lookout. My conclusion is that the batsman behaved stupidly.


  3. Kartik was well into his delivery stride when he affected the run-out - meaning that it shouldn't have stood. Also the fact that he was behaving like a complete arsehole all day is probably what spawned such a vehement reaction. I personally feel that the umpires should take control of matters - start signalling dead ball if they feel the batsman is backing up too much perhaps. Batsmen are more likely to stop doing it if they aren't rewarded consistently for it, as opposed to being run out once in a blue moon.

    1. yeah Samuel. Karthik completely is to blame. He should have let batsmen complete a few runs and then maybe he should have just laughed it off. Warning a batsman is so against the spirit of the game. Yes he is an arsehole because he was being competitive especially against his former team mates. They (Somerset) never did anything to him to deserve the reaction from him. The perfect gentleman can destroy the spirit of the game by taking off for runs before the bowler bowls. That is comepletely within the spirit of the game. WHy - Simple Karthik is coloured where as Johnny boy is white. Karthik is a destroyer of the spirit of the game just because he is coloured. :)

  4. A lot of bowlers stop in their delivery stride at the time the batsman is allowed out of the crease. The batsman is already walking forward and then out of the crease as the time the bowler takes the bails off. This is a deliberate ploy by the bowler against a batsman doing nothing wrong and being misled into moving naturally. I have not seen footage of yesterday's incident but I wouldn't mind betting the batsman was in a situation where he thought the bowler would carry on. It is also a very difficult one for the umpires to oversee. The square leg umpire can possibly judge that the bowler has stopped his momentum unfairly. I am not sure but is there still a means for the umpire to warn the batsman if he thinks the batsman is 'trying to steal a run or unfair advantage)?

  5. Yeah Samuel, Kartik is an arsehole, while Barrow is a perfect English Gentleman..Mate get life. The law today clearly states, its OUT. If Barrow is naive or as stupid as Ian Bell, guess English cricketers needs first coaching on rules.

  6. Idiots here and elsewhere need to read the rules of the game and watch the footage. The footage is available on the ECB Videos page. In it, you clearly see Kartik's back foot placed and then the front foot come down in the normal position (compare his foot placement to earlier footage). In terms of delivery stride, he actually completes it, spins on the front foot, and removes the balls.

    Because he has started the delivery stride and doesn't deliver, it should be a dead ball.

    Now Law 42.15 states:

    "Bowler attempting to run out non-striker before delivery

    The bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to attempt to run out the non-striker. Whether the attempt is successful or not, the ball shall not count as one of the over. If the bowler fails in an attempt to run out the non-striker, the umpire shall call and signal Dead ball as soon possible."

    Now that is unequivocal. There is no ambiguity. Kartik did not attempt to run Barrow out before entering the delivery stride. He entered that stride, the front foot goes down, and Kartik backs out of the delivery. Kartik is wrong to run Barrow out and the umpires are also wrong to uphold the appeal.

  7. Incidentally, the calling of the dead ball by the umpire...,49,ar.html

    23.4. Umpire calling and signalling Dead ball
    (ix) the ball does not leave the bowler’s hand for any reason other than an attempt to run out the non-striker before entering his delivery stride. See Law 42.15 (Bowler attempting to run out non-striker before delivery).

    As Kartik was into his delivery stride with his front foot down and the ball did not leave his hand, it should have been called a dead ball.

  8. Now this does all depend on what regulations you use!

  9. It was cheating on Kartik's part unfortunately, and shouldn't have been allowed by the umpires.

    Spirit has got nothing to do with it, he had completed his delivery stride before he stopped his bowling action. Not out.

    If you actually watch the video, his right foot plants before Barrow's bat even leaves the crease!

  10. OK, easy chaps, didn't want this to go into a question of race as that wasn't even close to being the point of this post. In fact, this isn't about whether Kartik's Mankad was legal or not, it was over the moral issues about the Mankad itself - whether that contravenes the spirit of cricket, or indeed, whether the so-called spirit of cricket is relevant, or should be followed to the letter. Not sure if that clears anything up, but that was what I was going for...

    And before I forget - thanks for the views and comments from those who found me from Cricinfo - broke all kinds of crazy records for this tiny blog so thanks for coming! And hope you come back again!



  11. Bit late with this, I know - but why has some Anon idiot tried to turn this into a race debate?

    A lot of the negative publicity that this incident got was probably down to the laziness of the media reporting these things.

    I heard about this incident for a couple of days consistently on the radio and at no point was it pointed out that Kartik had in fact warned the batsman.

    It took me about a week to look into it more deeply, and only then did I find out about the warning.

    The media don't help in some instances.

    On to the law itself and taking this incident out of the equation. It does seem to be an issue that needs some guidance.

    Either it becomes an issue for the umpire, and becomes his job to put a stop to it. Or maybe a directive needs to be issued by the players union that it is now going to become part of the game.

    I know someone will point out it is already a law. But the point I am trying to make is that it is in the main, an unused method of dismissal. If Cricketers think it is becoming an issue, they should make it clear that it will be acted on in future - then no one can say they haven't been warned.

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  13. ricket sees itself as the gentleman's sport - where the spirit of the game is just as important as the rules or regulations. While competitors in other sports dive or deceive in order to get ahead of the game in any possible way, cricket's noble code shuns anybody who doesn't play fair. So when Surrey's Murali Kartik 'Mankadded' (ran out the non-striker as he came in to bowl) Somerset's Alex Barrow in today's game at Taunton, the cricketing universe went into overdrive Cricket

  14. It needs some clarification from the ICC or whoever, either it becomes an accepted part of the game and everyone does it.... or it remains as it is, which is within the laws, but against cricketing etiquette...

    At the moment it is like the 6 second rule in football for goalkeepers holding on to the ball, everyone knows it is an offence, but nothing ever really gets done about it.