Let’s Encourage Mankading In T20

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Today we welcome new writer Joe Moody to TFT. He’s got an interesting view on Madkading. And I think, on balance, that I agree with him…

It’s time we talked about something that has lingered in the shadows of our game, causing passionate uproar and the defence of all things pure and proper in cricket. Some consider it to be the dark arts, unspeakable and indefensible; others see it as a cry of innovation, excitement, and mischief. There can be only one thing that divides and incites us so: the Mankad.

In the shortest format of the game, cricket fans are seeing eye-watering run totals in what now seems to be a batter’s format. In January this year, Melbourne Stars put up a breath-taking 273/2 against Hobart Hurricanes. While this is impressive, it is emblematic of a gradual increase in runs scored that needs to be addressed as bowlers become increasingly disadvantaged. Is it time to check this balance or do we accept the wild totals and see how far they can be pushed, slowly eroding the value of our bowlers? Does anyone really want to see a perfect 720?

Before I lose half of you, I would like to say that I have no desire to see Test cricket compromised by such cheek and trickery. I am perfectly content with its exclusion being upheld by players and the only change I wish to see in the longest form of the game is its continued growth towards greater inclusivity and accessibility. However, I would go so far as to say that Mankading is not only suited to T20 but belongs there.

Red ball is to the day, what T20 is to the night. Test cricket is graceful, quiet, and psychological; loyal, plain-clothed players play for days slowly building an innings, pouring intensity into brief moments like a flash of lighting on an overcast day. T20 is aggressive, quick, and exciting; mercenary players traverse the globe in multiple teams, loyalty means nothing, and entertainment screams as loudly as the vibrant clothing bedecking the players. Big sixes, flash across boundaries and TV screens in such quantity that they are now commonplace and expected.

The T20 experiment has been a godsend for cricket, it has saved a once struggling sport and with it brought attention back to Tests. Yet, we need something new to reign in the monstrous totals somewhat. The status quo has been tipped and it is time to introduce an oppressive tool that allows T20 to be more of a contest between batters and bowlers, not simply between the two batting units. Bowlers deserve a new weapon, something that will knock the batter’s swagger.

The devil’s dismissal, or Mankad, is the act of a bowler tipping the bails of the non-striking batter’s wicket if they have left their popping crease before the bowler has released the ball for their delivery. Batters have always tried to steal a few extra steps this way – it’s called “backing up” – and this has been widely accepted by the cricketing world. Despite a relaxing of the laws around Mankading, the cricketing world seems reluctant to accept it as part of the game despite its complete legality.

“If the non-striker is out of his/her ground at any time from the moment the ball comes into play until the instant when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball, the non-striker is liable to be run out .” – Law 41.16

In 2019, non-striking batter, Jos Butler, was dismissed by Ravi Ashwin via Mankad and the world was in uproar. The MCC declared the method to be against the spirit of the game and a number of high-profile players spoke out against it . To this I say, what is the spirit of T20 and does it need to resemble anything like that of first class cricket?

There was similar uproar in 1947 when Indian bowler Vinoo Mankad, namesake of the subtle art, dismissed Bill Brown during a Sydney test against Australia. Famously, Don Bradman came out in support of the act and the controversy has divided opinion ever since.

I do understand why people don’t want to see this in Test cricket. It does mark a change in the temperament of the game that is unnecessary; maintaining the “spirit of the game” is crucial and what makes test cricket so special. The unwritten contract between players, to show their respect to one another and achieve victory simply by out-batting and out-bowling one another is sacred and one of the many reasons that makes this sport so special.

I am reluctant to use the phrase “cricket purist” as it seems stubborn and regressive, something cricket has had issues with in the past and made great efforts to address. This being said, conventions of play should remain unchanged in Test cricket. We should protect it for the gradual game that it is. Only the most stubborn of us could deny that there are moments when we are all begging for something to happen in the face of a barrage of dot balls and singles. It is from the emptiness that our favourite moments are produced and made that much more satisfying. I think many will agree that Test is best and we should preserve that. Furthermore, I would also be reluctant to introduce it into the ODI format. Why can’t we uphold the spirit of the game within these two formats and allow for a little mischief in T20?

I would argue for a serious introduction of Mankading. Let batters have their fun during the Powerplay with no Mankading allowed during the early stages as the batsmen build to an innings. But let’s allow it when the fields are covered in colour and batters are more desperate for runs, taking chances when they can. With its introduction, we might level the playing field, giving bowlers more power and creating something that could produce shocking and exciting moments. We could even introduce a unique Mankad statistic, which prevents bowlers from massaging their wicket totals this way.

The T20 experiment has worked. So why not embrace what we love about it and give bowlers a new trick to deal with dominant batting sides? Encouraging the Mankad would also give us cricket badgers extra excitement and something that we haven’t seen before.

Joe Moody



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