England v India WODI Mankading: Legitimate run-out or just poor sportsmanship?

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Charlie Dean’s 10th wicket run-out has sparked the debate around ‘Mankading’ once more

England were 17 runs away from winning their first match against India in the three match Women’s ODI series on Saturday 24 September when controversy struck.

Charlie Dean had been in the midst of saving England from what was eventually a series white-wash when her bails were knocked over by Deepti Sharma at the non-strikers end.

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Just as the Indian was about to bowl, she ran out Dean who had strayed out the popping crease, ending England’s innings while also instigating the return of the debate around ‘mankading’.

Perhaps unfairly called a Mankad after Veenu Mankad, an Indian all-rounder who was the first to run out someone in this fashion, the non-striker’s end run-out has gone back and forth between being labelled unfair and wrong to legitimate and fair.

While previously being stipulated in the ‘unfair’ section of cricket laws, the ICC 2022 rule changes have now seen it placed back in the fair dismissals category and it is simply called a run-out.

Whether it be legitimate or illegitimate, it is a most ugly end to a series of cricket and one that seems far from the concept of sportsmanship cricket tries so hard to emulate.

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Additionally, what appears most remarkable however about the ‘Mankad’ incident is just how far it can divide the world of cricket - despite England being the unfortunate victims, there are still former England cricketers in support of the run-out.

Former England captain Michael Atherton entitled his Times article: ‘There is a simple solution to Mankad rows: stay in your crease’

On the other side of the coin, there is England and Surrey wicket-keeper Sam Billings who took to Twitter to say: “There’s surely not a person who has played the game that thinks this is acceptable, Just not cricket” which was quickly followed up by another post saying that Deepti Sharma was “not even looking at the other end in delivery stride.”

England bowling legend James Anderson also chipped in, replying to Billings saying: “Spot on. No intention of bowling the ball.”

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Former Pakistani bowler Muhammad Asif was even more condemning said: “We can see it clearly there is no intention of bowling the ball, she is looking towards non striker batter to cheat him (sic). This is very unfair and terrible act of the worst spirit.”

While India-Pakistan relations may not be the most cordial at the best of times, rendering this response far from surprising, the shock factor comes from the fact that, despite his phenomenal abilities with the ball, Asif’s name is best known in the world of cricket due to the grand match-fixing scandal of 2010.

Questions surely must be asked around the acceptability of a ‘Mankad’ run-out if you have a convicted cheater accusing you of being ‘unfair’ and acting in the ‘worst spirit’?

Former Pakistani bowler Mohammad Asif weighs in on Mankad debateFormer Pakistani bowler Mohammad Asif weighs in on Mankad debate
Former Pakistani bowler Mohammad Asif weighs in on Mankad debate | Getty Images

Returning to the incident in question, it’s fairly evident from the footage that Sharma is not looking anywhere near the stumps at the other end of the wicket and appears to be solely focused on Dean’s actions.

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Surely, the idea of cricket is for a bowler to bowl the ball and not just wait around to stump the unsuspecting non-striker who is waiting for their partner to receive the next delivery?

The perceived unfairness in the run-out method also means that bowlers are supposed to warn the batters about the gap they’re leaving outside their crease before any stumps are knocked, but it would appear Sharma didn’t feel the need to do this either.

The currently injured England captain Heather Knight responded to Sharma’s claims the Indian bowler had warned Dean by saying: “The game is over, Charlie was dismissed legitimately. India were deserved winners of the match and the series.

“But no warnings were given. They don’t need to be given, so it hasn’t made the dismissal any less legitimate.

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“But if they’re comfortable with the decision to affect the run out, India shouldn’t feel the need to justify it by lying about warnings.”

Knight’s words, controversial as they are with the accusation of mistruths, seem to sum up the whole incident rather perfectly.

Perhaps it’s because the non-striker’s end run-out has flitted so frequently between right and wrong in cricket law that it still feels almost illegal and unacceptable, but no one should really be complaining that it isn’t legitimate.

The main concern is it just feels so far from the spirit of cricket and looked like a cheap, ill-spirited way of finishing what had been an exciting and entertaining series.

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India had been the superior team throughout the three matches and if they had managed to take the final wicket through any other means, no fan would be complaining. After all, they had been better batters in all three matches, reaching scores that proved unattainable for England.

But for the series to end in such a farce makes the entire battle feel like a mockery.

A day after the ‘Mankad’ debacle, Dean was playing in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy - held at Lord’s too, coincidentally - and quickly addressed the metaphorical elephant in the room.

Bowling in the eighth over of the match, with her second ball she jokingly warned the non-striker Linsey Smith for almost leaving her crease, as she stopped bowling and appeared to mimic knocking over the stumps.

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The youngster was applauded for her camaraderie and praised for addressing the controversy in such a light-hearted manner.

This mimicry has been seen before in the men’s game, when West Indies star Chris Gayle stopped just short of his bowling action, offering an overstated gesture towards the stumps in a highly amusing bid to let Eoin Morgan know he was too far out his crease.

However, much like in Dean’s example, the stumps were not knocked over and all parties enjoyed a hearty laugh instead of bitter confusion and disappointment - this is the spirit in which all cricket should be played, surely.

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