The Mankad debate: Perfectly acceptable or just not cricket?

A distraught Charlie Dean shakes hands with Deepti Sharma, who 'Mankaded' her - GETTY IMAGES
A distraught Charlie Dean shakes hands with Deepti Sharma, who 'Mankaded' her - GETTY IMAGES

India women claimed the final wicket of their ODI series against England in dramatic and controversial fashion on Saturday evening with a run-out at the non-striker's end just as England looked to be closing in on victory at Lord's.

It is a rare form of dismissal but has been used before, including by Indian bowlers Vinoo Mankad – after whom it has traditionally been known – and Ravichandran Ashwin.

There has previously been an unwritten convention to offer the batter a warning, though the relevant law was recently moved by the ICC from the 'Unfair play' section and filed instead under 'Run out'. Not that that has removed the stigma of the dismissal.

Boos rang out at Lord's when Deepti Sharma 'Mankaded' England's Charlie Dean. But was that fair? We have asked our cricket writers, Scyld Berry and Nick Hoult, to have their say – and you can too in the comments section below.

Law must be changed – it's craftiness not cricket

By Scyld Berry

A distraught Charle Dean is consoled by Freya Davies - GETTY IMAGES
A distraught Charle Dean is consoled by Freya Davies - GETTY IMAGES

MCC will have to change the Laws of Cricket. What Deepti Sharma did in the women’s third one-day international at Lord’s looked wrong, whatever the existing law says.

Cricket, and the taking of wickets, should be a matter of skill and athleticism. Taking a wicket by 'Mankading' – when Charlie Dean, in this case, was backing up in the conventional way – is craftiness not cricket.

And there is always the argument which the Ancient Greek philosophers used: what happens if everyone does it? The sport of cricket would degenerate into niggliness, acrimony and a standstill if every club bowler and schoolkid started to do what Sharma did. Game over – or, rather, game not worth playing.

I don’t think warnings will work in this competitive age. There has to be something specific in the Laws.

My suggestion is that the Law should be changed so that the non-striker must stay in his/her ground until the bowler begins his/her armswing. And the bowler, having started the process of delivery, is not allowed then to take the bails off instead of bowling the ball.

This would allow a more natural and smoother sequence of events than that which is supposed to apply under the current Law, whereby the non-striker must wait in the crease until the ball has actually been delivered.

Of course any such change in the Laws should be trialled first. But MCC’s cricket secretary Jamie Cox, and Fraser Stewart who is in charge of the Laws, should be able to prevail upon a few members to participate in trials on the Lord’s Nursery before the end of this season.

Saturday’s incident made for a remarkable parallel: an Indian spinner began this process of running out batsmen who backed up too far, Vinoo Mankad, and it is an Indian spinner who has caused the latest furore.

The first instance in first-class cricket occurred on India’s tour of Australia in 1947-8, and it happened not once but twice, and involved the same protagonists on both occasions. One was the Indian left-arm spinner Vinoo Mankad, who soon became the best of his type in the world according to Wisden.

The batsman concerned was Bill Brown, who opened the batting for Australia under Don Bradman’s captaincy. Even in his later years Brown was very dapper and quick on his feet: you could see him eagerly moving down the pitch as non-striker when the ball was bowled.

The first instance happened in a tour warm-up game between the Indians and an Australian XI. The second occurrence happened in the second Test, again at Sydney, as Wisden reported: “Australia lost their first wicket in an unusual manner. In a previous match Mankad, the bowler, warned Brown about backing up too far, and when the batsman repeated this ran him out. This time Mankad gave no warning, and the first occasion Brown moved down the pitch too quickly the bowler whipped off the bails.”

But we have to stop history repeating itself.

Artificial way to take a wicket – but legal

By Nick Hoult

Deepti Sharma 'Mankads' England batter Dean - SKY SPORTS
Deepti Sharma 'Mankads' England batter Dean - SKY SPORTS

The run-out of a non-striker by the bowler is no longer considered unfair play under the laws of the game so Deepti Sharma did nothing wrong at Lord’s when she dismissed Charlie Dean, but it is the sport’s most glaring example of underhand gamesmanship.

It also sparks a deluge of whataboutery on social media as Stuart Broad discovered on Sunday when he offered his opinion on the matter. “I personally wouldn’t like to win a match like that, also, very happy for others to feel differently,” he wrote. But at the time of writing he had 2,782 replies ranging from “do you appeal when the batsman is not out?”, “But quite happy to nick to slip via the keeper and stand your ground in an Ashes Test? Well played sir,” to the most bizarre: “So you must have not liked how eng won the 2019 ODI WC Final” a reference to the unintentional bat deflection for four (counted as six) by Ben Stokes.

The Mankad is sharp practice and the players know it which is why it only ever happens in a tight match when a result is on the line and they are desperate. If it was a widely accepted form of dismissal, like stealing ground on base is in baseball, then it would happen in the early overs of a Test match or when a game is meandering.

India were fearing an England comeback at Lord's. Dean was moving closer to 50 and had put on 35 with No 11 Freya Davies with a chance of steering her side to an unlikely win. If that had not been the case would Deepti have still done it? Almost certainly not.

There is nuance in this one too. Dean was in her crease when Deepti’s arm went over. It was only because she stopped mid-delivery, by which time Dean was looking down the pitch, that she was able to make the run-out. It was premeditated. This was not Dean trying to steal yards. In the fraction of a second that she moved out the crease, she assumed the ball had been delivered and was on its way down to the other end.

The most egregious example was at the Under-19 World Cup in 2016 when West Indies’ Keemo Paul ran out Zimbabwe’s Richard Ngarava in the final over with a quarter-final place on the line. West Indies were facing a shock defeat, Zimbabwe needed six to win off the last over with their last pair at the crease. Paul flicked off the bails with Ngarava millimetres out of his crease. It was legal, but the batsman was not trying to seek an advantage. It was a poor way to win but crucial – West Indies went on to lift the World Cup.

When Jos Buttler was run out in the IPL at the non-striker’s end by bowler Ravi Ashwin he was a long way out of his crease. Buttler was also warned before he was 'Mankaded' by Sachithra Senanayake in an ODI at Lord’s, so no sympathy. 

Back to Broad.I’d say 99% of players I’ve played with have nicked the ball & not walked. I’d say 1% of players I’ve played with would use the Mankad as a mode of dismissal.” That's because they know it's an artificial way to take a wicket or win a game and what's the point of that?

Have your say...

The Lord's crowd turned on India's women after the Mankad sealed a controversial ODI defeat for England. But according to the laws of the game it is a legitimate mode of dismissal. Where do you stand on the matter? Have your say in the comments below...