Salman the sportsman? Am I missing something?

Alec Swann Columnist

By Alec Swann, Alec Swann is a Roar Expert

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33 Have your say

    Picture the scene. After four days of cut and thrust in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, the outcome of the keenly-fought contest between WAPDA and Peshawar boils down to one beautifully delicate equation: four runs to win, one wicket remaining.

    A knife-edge finish if ever there was one, made all the tastier by the batsman on strike, WAPDA’s Mohammad Saad, being unbeaten on 111 and there being one delivery left in the over.

    To take the plunge and go for the ropes, ending the match in one fell swoop? Or attempt to pinch a single, defying the close-in fielders and give yourself potentially six deliveries to decide which way to place your stake?

    And as for the bowler, Peshawar’s Taj Wali; do you try the time-honoured tactic of the bouncer to keep the specialist batsman on strike?

    Or back your ability to take the final wicket by aiming for the stumps and putting the onus on the opponent to force the play. Decisions, decisions.

    Well, none of the above actually came to pass.

    This scenario didn’t get as far as the centurion rolling the dice and possibly crowning an outstanding performance with the added kudos of becoming the matchwinner. There was no bouncer or attempted yorker as the bowler in question sought to settle the matter in decisive fashion.

    There was, however, the number 11 Mohammad Irfan, wandering out of his crease and the bowler, in a decisive manner of sorts if that is the best way to describe it, running him out backing up, or ‘Mankading’ him if you prefer,

    High drama ended by the lowest of blows or a lapse in concentration effectively and ruthlessly punished?

    According to the captain of the defeated side, it was the former: “We had a great game, fully competitive throughout four days, which saw both teams’ fortunes fluctuate. And suddenly this mankading spoiled it. Sportsman spirit should have been the top priority but the game didn’t end in a proper way. What’s the point of this law when the opponent team despite winning apologises to us?”

    Now, I would expect the side on the receiving end to express feelings of anger or disappointment as to come so close and have it snatched away so brazenly is hardly going to encourage a shrug of the shoulders.

    And, even if you subscribe to the view that the fielding side did nothing wrong, and according to the laws of the game they didn’t, it would take a cold heart not to have a trace of sympathy for the vanquished.

    But those with a sense of humour may well have found comedy gold in the identity of the captain extolling the virtues of sportsmanship.

    Salman Butt is renowned for a few things, actually just the one come to think of it, but the understanding of irony is definitely not on the list.

    Salman Butt

    (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

    The man who, in 2010 and as captain of his country, decided that corruption was the road down which to travel by engaging in spot-fixing and took money in exchange for information on when no-balls would be bowled, having the gall to condemn the sportsmanship of an opponent?

    Laugh I most certainly did and apologies for those on the bus who were shocked out of their morning slumber by my unintentionally loud guffawing.

    Here is a man who shouldn’t have been allowed to play cricket again let alone asked for his opinions on it but I doubt whether his brass neck would allow him to understand the ludicrousness of his statement.

    I thought David Warner’s ‘Ashes is war’ (it’s not but I can see what he was trying to get at) comments were going to triumph in the ‘who can say the daftest thing this week’ competition, but Butt’s efforts put them well and truly in their place. Leave this to the professionals.

    Sportsmanship does indeed have its place, and even in the most pressurised situations, but it really doesn’t need a convicted fraudster in its corner.

    If Butt can achieve anything, maybe educating those a bit younger on the perils of illicit activity would be a more suitable pastime than unashamedly preaching about the very thing he was happy to trample all over.

    Either that or stand-up comedy.

    Alec Swann
    Alec Swann

    Alec Swann is a former Northants and Lancashire opener turned cricket writer. Outside of the joys of a Test match, Newcastle United and golf generally occupy his other sporting interests with a soft spot for the Newcastle Knights.

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    The Crowd Says (33)

    • Roar Guru

      October 20th 2017 @ 8:24am
      Chris Kettlewell said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      It is a bit of a delicious irony isn’t it. Comedy gold.

      And can we just get away from the whole idea of a mankad being unsportsmanlike? The batsman is supposed to stay in his crease until the bowler has delivered the ball. So them leaving early and trying to get a head start on any possible run could be considered unsportsmanlike. Running them out is just what they deserve. When you are backing up at the non-strikers end, watch the bowler, walk as he runs in so that you can leave your crease at the precise moment he is releasing the ball. Then you can back up well without risking the mankad. (Of course you still risk being run out by the bowler getting a touch on a hard hit straight drive, but not much you can do about that other than not back up at all!)

      • October 20th 2017 @ 8:34am
        Junior Coach said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:34am | ! Report

        Dead right Chris, wandering out of your crease is taking an advantage and considering these days that batsman are given every advantage-bigger bats, no ball reviews etc etc – quite frankly tough luck. Any kid above the age of 12 is taught not to wander out of their crease, the only time a recall is justified is in Under 12 club cricket. The only funnier dismissal is when a batsman shoulders arms and gets bowled.

        • Roar Rookie

          October 20th 2017 @ 12:29pm
          Matthew Pearce said | October 20th 2017 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

          Finally, someone mentioning the no-ball reviews. I’ve always had an issue with that – if the umpire didn’t pick up that one, how many others have they missed? Especially since you can get a dismissal that wasn’t one overturned, but the opposite doesn’t apply.

        • Roar Guru

          October 20th 2017 @ 1:34pm
          Chris Kettlewell said | October 20th 2017 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

          I think no ball reviews would be fine if they reviewed every ball. But when umpires just keep failing to call no-balls and just let the bowler keep bowling them only to review the one where the wicket falls, I don’t think that’s right. Have the video ref just wanting the side-on shot as the ball is bowled every ball and if there’s an infringement that’s clear enough at full speed then he calls it to the on-field umpire straight away. Sure, if a wicket falls you can take a closer look on the close ones, but don’t just review when the wicket falls.

      • Roar Guru

        October 20th 2017 @ 9:10am
        spruce moose said | October 20th 2017 @ 9:10am | ! Report

        The rule changes now make decidedly more sportsmanlike as well, which is a good thing.

        A lot of the blame is now shouldered squarely on the wandering batsman.

      • October 20th 2017 @ 10:50am
        Jameswm said | October 20th 2017 @ 10:50am | ! Report

        I never left my crease early as a non striker. Always watched the ball come out of the bowlers hand. Never give them a chance.

        However, as a bowler I would give a warning. Never mankadded anyone. Never tried it.

        • Roar Guru

          October 20th 2017 @ 12:04pm
          Chris Kettlewell said | October 20th 2017 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

          I never did or saw a mankad in any game of cricket I’ve played. Though, I really don’t see the issue. I don’t get the whole “give a warning” thing. That’s the rules, stay inside your crease until the bowler is delivering the ball. If not, you can get run out. No warnings required. If someone is trying to take advantage, just run them out. If they want to complain, just say they should have stayed in their crease.

          The laws of the game say that if a batsman is out of their crease before you have even bowled the ball you are within your rights to just run them out. How on earth anyone can then complain about that not being in the spirit of the game or somehow being unsportsmanlike I really don’t get.

          • October 20th 2017 @ 8:27pm
            James said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:27pm | ! Report

            Yeah its one of those ‘rules’ that doesnt make sense. The batsman is the only one doing something wrong as far as i can see by leaving his crease and trying to get a head start.

    • Roar Rookie

      October 20th 2017 @ 9:11am
      Matthew Pearce said | October 20th 2017 @ 9:11am | ! Report

      I’ve never understood why there’s so much contention around the Mankad. It’s legal, and it punishes batsmen for trying to take an unfair advantage. Sounds fine to me.

      You’re exactly right, Butt should never have been allowed to play cricket ever again, not only for what he did but dragging a young and impressionable Amir into it as well. Imagine how good he could’ve been now with that extra five years up his sleeve. The fact he can be in this position now is a complete disgrace.

      • October 20th 2017 @ 9:42am
        Don Freo said | October 20th 2017 @ 9:42am | ! Report

        Agree on the Mankad being ok.
        Disagree on Salman. He has done a substantial ban and jail time.

        It was not murder. It should not be a life sentence. The anti-corruption message was strong and clear.

        • Roar Guru

          October 20th 2017 @ 12:10pm
          Chris Kettlewell said | October 20th 2017 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

          Totally agree. He’s served his penalty, it was a substantial one, not just some slap on the wrist, he should be able to come back and play again after that.

          • Roar Rookie

            October 20th 2017 @ 12:22pm
            Matthew Pearce said | October 20th 2017 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

            I’d agree with that if it was just him by himself, but the fact that he roped two other young players into it is what did it for me. Even if it was “just” spot-fixing.

          • October 20th 2017 @ 1:20pm
            Neil Back said | October 20th 2017 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

            Won’t enter the debate on type or length of penalty but I absolutely take the authors point that Butt has no place commenting on others sportsmanship. Particularly so when he’s defending someone both breaking the rules and seeking an unfair advantage of their own.

    • October 20th 2017 @ 9:22am
      Paul said | October 20th 2017 @ 9:22am | ! Report

      A batsman at the bowlers end might be out of their crease because they’re lazy, have bad running technique or are trying to gain an unfair advantage. If a bowler Mankad’s them, why is that a bad thing?

      I thought Butt was banned for life form any involvement in cricket?

      Warner also managed to top the list of stupid remarks when he said the Australians and especially him should go over the top with their sledging of the English side. Can’t believe this guy has been touted as a possible Australian captain. I guess he would be a natural to lead a bogan first XI.

      • October 20th 2017 @ 10:51am
        Jameswm said | October 20th 2017 @ 10:51am | ! Report

        Imagine how much worse he’d be without Candice.

        • October 20th 2017 @ 2:39pm
          spruce moose said | October 20th 2017 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

          Or his OLED TV…which has given him a more colourful and vibrant perspective on things.

      • Roar Rookie

        October 20th 2017 @ 12:24pm
        Matthew Pearce said | October 20th 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

        Nah, not life ban, 10 years with 5 suspended for good behaviour or whatever the equivalent is.

    • Roar Guru

      October 20th 2017 @ 12:07pm
      Pom in Oz said | October 20th 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

      The theory of running the non striker out before you’ve bowled, because they’ve left their crease to gain an advantage is fine. However, the way it is carried out always looks to me as so deceitful. I’m sure the bowler premeditates the decision to mankad before they start their run up. So, going through the motion of pretending to bowl and then at the last second whipping the bails off is just a sneaky underhanded act. Call it unsportsmanlike if you want. I do agree with Jameswm’s comment around at least giving a warning first. Maybe another more radical solution would be to alter the rules of cricket, such that if the non striker leaves the crease before the ball is bowled, it is a no-ball, with the run going to the fielding side. Bit of a nightmare for the umpires though…

      • Roar Guru

        October 20th 2017 @ 12:15pm
        Chris Kettlewell said | October 20th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

        I don’t see why you should need to warn a player. They should know that they need to stay in their crease until the ball is bowled. As a batsman I personally used to watch the bowlers feet, the moment his front foot hit the bowling crease I would start backing up. It’s a simple thing. Most of the time, bowlers do “pre-meditate”, even with a warning. They do it because they’ve seen the batsman consistently doing it. If a batsman is consistently out of their ground before the bowler releases the ball, then there’s nothing unsportsmanlike about it, the batsman is out because they’ve done the wrong thing.

        I get that it can look a bit unusual. To do it a bowler has to pull out of their bowling really late and take the bails off. But that’s just how it is. Nobody calls a baseball pitcher unsportsmanlike for pulling out of a pitch just before they bowl it to run out the base runner who’s trying to steal a base. No different here.

        • Roar Guru

          October 20th 2017 @ 2:30pm
          Pom in Oz said | October 20th 2017 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

          Interesting observation regarding baseball, Chris. I did some fact checking on your point and found that the pitcher cannot pull out of a pitch once he’s started (Rule 8). So, I’m afraid you’re wrong there. Also, base stealing is very much part of their game and they even have stats on bases stolen (BS) and caught stealing (CS). Apparently, Ty Cobb stole base 892 times! So, very different here. I don’t believe the two are comparable. I think mankading will always be a controversial rarity in the game, with both supporters (e.g. Don Bradman) and detractors like Darren Lehmann…

          • Roar Guru

            October 20th 2017 @ 4:00pm
            Chris Kettlewell said | October 20th 2017 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

            Pretty sure the bowler has to do the mankad before they enter their delivery stride too. They can’t bring their arm over to bowl the ball but hold onto it and run the non-striker out, they have to do it before they bring their arm over to start bowling. So it’s probably more similar than you suggest. There’s no run up in baseball to compare to.

            I just think it’s only controversial because people decide it is. If everyone just said, “stay if your crease until the ball is released or you risk getting run out, deal with it” and then got on with the game, it would be fine.

            • Roar Guru

              October 21st 2017 @ 11:04am
              Pom in Oz said | October 21st 2017 @ 11:04am | ! Report

              No mate. The law states before the ball is released. Your assertion that it is only controversial because people decide it is and if we all agreed it was ok it wouldn’t be, is laughable. That’s like saying if we all agreed that Trump was a great president he wouldn’t be controversial. Duh!

              • October 21st 2017 @ 12:18pm
                Don Freo said | October 21st 2017 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

                It’s not even close to saying that.

        • October 20th 2017 @ 2:48pm
          spruce moose said | October 20th 2017 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

          If a warning is needed – it should only be the moment a new batsman arrives to the crease. First and last warning right there.

          There were batsman who cynically exploited the ‘spirit of the game’ and were essentially cheating. The person that I will gladly call out was Michael Hussey. He knew no bowler + captain would be bold enough to risk the ‘spirit of the game’ by mankading him and so he back up 3-4 metres ALL the time in ODI cricket. He was basically keeping stride with the bowler.

          I’d wager that if bowlers were brave enough to mankad him, Australia would have lost at least a 10 matches as a result. Hussey was an expert in sneaking a single here or there in the death overs, and then get himself on strike and club a few boundaries.

      • October 20th 2017 @ 4:04pm
        matth said | October 20th 2017 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

        Hmmm underhanded. Just like those nasty leg spinners looking like it’s spinning from leg to off and then it goes the other way! Ban the lot of the sly criminals I say.

      • October 20th 2017 @ 8:30pm
        James said | October 20th 2017 @ 8:30pm | ! Report

        If a bowler has to warn a batsman about what he is going to do does a batsman have to warn a bowler he is premeditating hitting a 6? Or less smart assery, does he have to warn a bowler he is going to switch hit the next ball?

    • Roar Rookie

      October 20th 2017 @ 4:24pm
      slurpy said | October 20th 2017 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

      Good read Alec. Personally I’ve never had an issue with the mankad (as an offie who bowls straight breaks it was my best chance of taking a wicket) but I think there’s a courtesy in warning the batsmen once. Usually this is enough to keep them honest in my experience.

      • October 20th 2017 @ 5:16pm
        Don Freo said | October 20th 2017 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

        The only thing, Alec, is that no batsman cribs that ground accidentally. Every batsman does that intentionally. The “courtesy” would be to leave the crease when the ball is delivered. That would be “courteously” playing according to the rules.

    • October 21st 2017 @ 6:21pm
      Rats said | October 21st 2017 @ 6:21pm | ! Report

      Absolutely nothing wrong in mankading.. We all seem to agree on that.
      But as a viewer, I feel uncomfortable when bowler looks for this opportunity.. Especially during crunch situations.. It’s almost like bowler while running in thinking about doing this as an option.. Similar thing happened during U19 World Cup when WI beat Zim in the last over.. It would have been an amazing last over if not for mankading..
      I would still never call it unsportsmanlike.. Because the non striker deserves it.. I would rather call it disappointment for viewers..

      • October 21st 2017 @ 6:25pm
        Rats said | October 21st 2017 @ 6:25pm | ! Report

        Here is the link to that match
        https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/feb/02/west-indies-zimbabwe-mankad-u19-world-cup

        Viewers were robbed off from an exciting finish.. If the bowler had warned the non striker instead of planning getting him out that way, he and West indies team would have won a thousand fans… Nothing unsportsmanlike.. But was very disappointing to watch

      • Roar Guru

        October 23rd 2017 @ 11:21am
        Chris Kettlewell said | October 23rd 2017 @ 11:21am | ! Report

        I get the idea of something being “disappointing for the viewers”, but why does that have anything to do with the mankad. You’ve got the possibility of an exciting last over presented, a wicket falls, the game is over. That’s the same regardless of the type of dismissal. Why is it any different from, say, a batsman defending the ball which goes to a close-in fielder who notices the batsman is slightly out of his crease so he throws down the stumps and runs the batsman out?

        And the bowler is running in thinking about all sorts of options for taking a wicket, based on what the batsmen have been doing. I was playing football (soccer) a few years back, and was up front, and I had noticed the keeper was regularly well off his line and kept that in mind. When I got the ball and new the defenders were a lot quicker than me, I looked up, saw that he was again and took the shot from about 10m inside the half, managed to lob the keeper and get the goal.

        Should I have spoken to the keeper prior to that and just said that I noticed him getting well off his line, if he keeps doing that and I get the chance I will try and lob him. And if I just do it without giving him a warning, then that’s unsportsmanlike?

        It seems a ridiculous analogy, because nobody would ever consider that something you should do, rather the fact you’ve spotted the keeper regularly off his line gives you something you can exploit to potentially get a goal. But for some reason, something that’s just as totally legitimate in cricket gets so looked down on and people expect you to give a warning and all those sorts of things.

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