Chris Rattue on sport
The latest sport analysis and comment from Herald columnist Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue: Forget the 'spirit in cricket', Mankad is fair game

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The West Indies players celebrate their controversial win.
The West Indies players celebrate their controversial win.

Rodney Hogg has got it dead right while Stephen Fleming is wrong, and being hypocritical into the bargain.

Former Aussie paceman Hogg has come out swinging about the so-called Mankad controversy at cricket's Junior World Cup. Hogg has vigorously defended the right of bowlers to run out non-strikers backing up too far, a tactic portrayed as against the spirit of the game especially if it occurs without warning.

Actually, the Mankad's legitimacy has been supported by significant characters down the years, famous Australian captains Sir Donald Bradman and Ian Chappell included. Indeed, Bradman and Chappell did so when their own team mates had been run out.


Fleming however has plonked himself in the other corner by describing the junior West Indian team's behaviour as "absolutely disgraceful", even though they beat Zimbabwe by legal means (although the accuracy of the decision was debatable).

The best aspect to Fleming's tweet is that it has sparked a terrific debate, and one that should help enshrine the Mankad as a more commonly accepted tactic in an era where video scrutiny obsesses over the finest of lines. Perhaps he tweeted in adrenaline-charged haste, a common trap in the social media age.

READ MORE
A brief history of Mankading
'Mankad' mars West Indies under-19s win

Otherwise, Fleming's scorecard is reading zero on this. Nearly 10 years ago, New Zealand captain Fleming vigorously defended Brendon McCullum after he ran out Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan who had wandered off to congratulate team mate Kumar Sangakkara for scoring a century.

"The game doesn't stop when a player gets to 100," argued Fleming, using the same law book that the young West Indians have now used.

As for the underlying concept of the superior "gentlemanly" spirit in cricket, give us a break. It may actually lead the world in ugly verbal disputes between opponents. Cricket has been allowed to live a lie. It is among the most badly behaved sports on the field, and among the most corrupt recreational activities in history.

And picking on some poor West Indian junior for doing something legal is like moaning about a singed letterbox when the house has been burned to the ground.

Many of the world's top cricketers, including Fleming, are making hay in a money trough situated in India, a hotbed of cricketing corruption. India also led a revolution in which - along with England and Australia - it used financial muscle to hijack political power. Now that is something worth tweeting about.

As for the Mankad...as Hogg argues, batsmen who leave the starting gates too early are the ones cheating. Enough of the fine details. What counts is what exists in the rule book, and it is up to professionals to use every legal means in the search for victory. It's not up to players to decide which rules apply and which ones don't.

- NZ Herald

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