Ashwin, Cricket and Mankading: Spirit or Law, what should matter more?

Ashwin, Cricket and Mankading: Spirit or Law, what should matter more?

Kings XI Punjab spinner Ravichandran Ashwin sparked a debate on this after mankading Jos Buttler yesterday. It was certainly a decision that changed the course of the game, though the Rajasthan Royals should not blame that completely for their horrendous collapse.

Spirit of the game or the written laws, if you had to choose one, which one would you go for?

The answer to that question is, there is something iffy about the whole situation currently.

The moment of controversy between Ashwin and Buttler.Image: Cricket AU
The moment of controversy between Ashwin and Buttler.Image: Cricket AU

The questions for Ashwin

If the same body has formed the laws that must be abided by the players and has preached the spirit which is ever so endearing to the masses, then why aren’t these two entities mutually inclusive?

This is because; the spirit of the game is something that has increasingly become subjective as the game has progressed over the years. The consensus of playing hard and playing fair has been prided upon majorly by the Australians, and hence when you see a certain Shane Warne calling Ashwin a ‘disgrace’ for carrying out a perfectly legitimate dismissal, one can surely argue whether the ethos of the sport could be accepted by people from various backgrounds in a similar way.

This is where the importance of law kicks into the picture. Well, unlike the subjectivity of quintessence with which cricket should be played, the laws are definite and certain for every single individual out there.

The laws of the game…

Hence, when you follow the law 41.16, it says that non-striker must stay within the crease until such time as the bowler is expected to deliver the ball. Now, this is where Ashwin is being questioned. Some screenshots indicate that he deliberately slowed down his delivery stride to allow Buttler to walk out and then knocked off the bails. Here, the morality of the whole situation comes into question. Was it correct from the spinner’s perspective to premeditate the move and trick Buttler into doing this?

However, there’s a flip side of this argument as well. Here, too there are laws that are meant to be questioned.

Firstly, there are clear pictures that show that Buttler had been out of the crease before the ball was delivered on three occasions in the same over. There are immense chances of Ashwin having read this move, and he then accordingly cleverly pulled off this wicket.

Still, there are more aspects to this law than one would initially think of.

The lawmakers have also said, “If you do not want to risk being run-out, stay within your ground until the bowler has released the ball.”

This is how the MCC has tried to bring a sort of equality in these kinds of scenarios. The above-stated clause puts all the responsibility on the batsman to ensure that he follows the bowler’s action before leaving the crease even by the slightest of margins.

Buttler, as visible through videos, did not do so. He was watching the striker and had gradually tried to gain some momentum before Ashwin sensed this and carried out the act.

Plenty have questioned Ashwin's sportsman spirit following the Mankading. Image: NDTV
Plenty have questioned Ashwin’s sportsman spirit following the Mankading. Image: NDTV

The confusion…

Whilst, the MCC has ensured to put the onus on the batsman to protect his wicket, have they also confused this situation with the duality of their laws?

In my opinion, they certainly have.

Having clauses like the one mentioned above creates chaos amongst the laymen, and hence a definite, singular law could be more beneficial in these situations.

Moreover, this is a momentary action and hence relying on screenshots to draw out a conclusion is definitely not advisable. One who has followed Ashwin throughout the years would be adept with the fact that he has a tendency to pause a bit in his stride before delivering the ball. Whether or not he was doing that yesterday, cannot be figured out now and hence one can only depend on the statements by the people in charge of this situation.

The verdict on Ashwin…

Following the umpire’s decision is also playing along with the spirit of the game. Whilst Buttler certainly had to do that, his coach, Paddy Upton did not consider that as a viable option. Upton refused to mince his words whilst Ashwin claimed the action to be ‘instinctive’.

Whether it was instinct or pre-planned is a bit grey right now. Because it was Ashwin’s last delivery of the four overs spell and he certainly would have been desperate to get the high-flying Buttler out of the way as soon as possible. Hence, it might not be wrong to assume that Ashwin sort of tended to mislead the audience by claiming the act to be instinctive.

However, even if it wasn’t instantaneous, it was certainly something that abided by the laws created by people who matter the most.

It is difficult to figure a bottom line in this situation. However, when it comes to morals vs laws, the latter should certainly come out on top as the former varies according to the person in question.



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