Do the action of Ashwin in an IPL game make him a pantomime villain or just a highly motivated competitor? Poor Vinoo Mankad. The former Indian cricketing legend had in India’s first post-independence cricket series in December 1947 ‘run out’ Australian batsman Bill Brown for ‘backing up’ at the runner’s crease. His actions were condemned by cricket authorities, sports journalists and at that time, the extremely racist sports fans in Australia. Notably though, Australian batsman and legend of the game Don Bradman never did call out Mankad’s actions. And over seven decades later, the ‘spirit’ of cricket, that forms a preamble to the rules of the game, still has no mention of this particular action. So as such, what Ravichandran Ashwin did to English batsman Jos Buttler during an Indian Premier League (IPL) game this past Monday is not officially or even spiritually a wrong thing to do. Buttler should have known better since the same thing happened to him in a One-Day International against Sri Lanka in 2014.
Keep in mind that Ashwin is no run-of-the-mill squad cricketer, making a living from the IPL. He is India’s best spin bowler of his generation and the spearhead of a bowling attack, both in India and abroad, besides being an extremely intelligent cricketer. In addition, Ashwin is a ferocious competitor and we have to keep that in mind before condemning him. What if Buttler took a sharp single and missed being run out by a fraction of an inch? Would the half-a-yard he stepped out of his crease not helped him then? While Buttler is not unique among players to do this — although falling victim to the same thing twice does mark him out as a particularly egregious batsman taking advantage — in an era where the game is so heavily biased towards batsmen, this is taking advantage of bowlers trying to play within the spirit of the game.
Cricket today, both international games and in domestic tournaments, particularly in extremely lucrative T20 tournaments like the IPL, is hyper-competitive. Making the playoffs in the IPL can add significant bonus to the salaries of players. And Ashwin’s actions have shown how far the IPL has progressed from a fun-filled drug and sex-fuelled entertainment show to a league that is competitive and serious. So yes, while Ashwin could have given Buttler a warning, this is a not a five-day test match — this was a rapid T20 game — every inch counts. Ashwin knows that the game is biased against those of his ilk and he has rightly taken a stand for his fellow bowlers. And so had Mankad. Therefore, it is wrong to criticise the bowlers for their actions here. They are following rules. The negative connotations of this action have to go as should the term ‘Mankaded.’ It is unfair on Mankad and has negative and racist implications. It should highlight the actions of batsmen taking advantage instead.
Courtesy and Writer: Pioneer