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The Mankad rises from the deep

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27th March, 2019
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The latest international cricket controversy deals with Ravindra Ashwin running out Jos Buttler for backing up too far from the bowler’s end in an IPL match.

The umpire said he was out of his crease. He admitted he was out. Ashwin said he must be out, so, he left.

So what is the big deal? The answer is supernatural; the spirit of the game has been breached and it is only proper that a warning should have been given. But no way.

That was the old spirit, now no warning is necessary. The arbiter of all arbiters, the MCC, in a densely worded response said it was out and the umpire was right.

This did not stop numerous cricket luminaries like Shane Warne and Patrick Cummins putting their opinions out. Some went for the spirit. Some went for the rule.

For heaven’s sake, is this what makes cricket fascinating. Not.

The old game has these strange spirits. Some of which are followed, some not. Always walk when you think you are out. Always look at the umpire when you appeal. Always raise your bat to your dressing room when you score a century.

Don’t sledge, whatever that is? You can’t say “your mother wears army boots” anymore. This is ageist parent harassment. The latest is a goodie. The bowler shows the ball to the crowd when five wickets are taken.

What I am getting at is that the old spirits often end up as new rules. Ball tampering was seen in Australia as a capital crime. Steve, David and Cameron were lucky not to be incarcerated or at least exiled to New Zealand.

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This heinous activity hardly affected the South African captain twice, but here in the Commonwealth, it got more publicity than knocking down the Sydney Football Stadium and taking their non-existent sprinklers. Michael lost an election on that.

I know the old game’s traditions are its lifeblood, but I think that in the days of professional sport we should have meaningful, easy-to-explain rules and regulations. This is not to excuse Fox from inventing the strange box that seemed to magically show what players were better against what bowlers defined by three different colours.

My head ached trying to wrap my mind around that concept. Please, no more.

We all love the weird, wacky world of cricket.