Ravichandran Ashwin says his ‘Mankad’ dismissal of Jos Buttler in the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Monday was not against the spirit of the game despite the run out sparking a chorus of disapproval from fellow players and pundits.
Rajasthan Royals batsman Buttler was run out on 69 while backing up at the non-striker’s end, with Kings XI Punjab skipper Ashwin choosing to whip off the bails as the runner stepped out of the crease instead of completing his delivery to the batsman on strike.
The dismissal, named after India bowler Vinoo Mankad who ran out Australia’s Bill Brown in similar fashion in 1947, is permitted under cricket’s laws but viewed by some as going against the spirit of the game.
Buttler departed after an angry exchange with Ashwin and his exit condemned the Royals to a 14-run defeat in their IPL opener in Jaipur.
“On my part, it was very instinctive,” Indian off-spinner Ashwin told a post-match news conference. “It wasn’t planned or anything like that. It’s there within the rules of the game.
“I don’t understand where the spirit of the game comes (in). Naturally, if it’s there in the rules it’s there.”
When reminded of a past incident when former West Indian skipper Courtney Walsh let off Pakistan’s Saleem Jaffer in crucial 1987 World Cup match at Lahore in a similar situation, Ashwin retorted sharply.
“Neither was Jos Buttler playing then nor was I playing. So it is very very pertinent to just not compare two people,” he said.
When probed further on whether it affects the ‘spirit of the game’, the irritation was palpable on his face.
“I don’t understand the point because it’s rules. What applies for one man doesn’t apply for everyone else?” he asked.
There has been a debate on whether Ashwin deliberately delayed while loading up on his delivery stride having apprehended that Buttler backs up too far.
“I didn’t even load and he left the crease. It’s always been my take on the crease, because it’s my half of the crease,” he said.
Royals coach Paddy Upton said, “I think we’ll leave it up to the IPL fans to decide if that’s the kind of things they want to see, and we’ll leave it up to the cricket world to judge R Ashwin’s actions tonight.”
“But for us, we’re certainly here to play cricket and entertain the fans and be good role models for people who love the game.”
Cricket world divided
Former Australia spinner Shane Warne said Ashwin had committed a “low act”.
England limited overs skipper Eoin Morgan said Ashwin had set a “terrible example” for young players, while former England skipper Michael Vaughan suggested the rules should be changed.
Ashwin received support from former Australian players Mitchell Johnson and Dean Jones.
Dean Jones wrote, “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.”
The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which is the custodian of cricket laws, had made subtle changes to the rules on running out of non-strikers by bowlers in their run-up in 2017. The law gives bowlers the right to run out the non-striker up to the instant at which they “would be expected to deliver the ball”.
England batman Jason Roy expressed shock at Ashwin’s action.
“Ashwin, that’s shocking behaviour! Very disappointed to see that,” he wrote in his twitter handle.
South African pacer Dale Steyn was also critical of Ashwin.
Former New Zealand cricketer Scott Styris felt the TV umpire didn’t make the right call.
Cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle came to Ashwin’s defence.
IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said a decision on ‘Mankading’ during league matches had been made earlier at meeting at which MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli were present.
(With inputs from PTI and Reuters)