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Buttler-Ashwin saga: Definitely not “Against the spirit”, yet disgraceful on the bowler’s part

Ravichandran Ashwin is getting hammered on social media from the time it happened.

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Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin. (Photo Source: Twitter)

This is one story which will be echoing all across the globe just because the Indian Premier League is a gigantic tournament and every controversial thing that happens here has significant ramifications. Ravichandran Ashwin trying to mankad Buttler and eventually getting a favourable result was not against the spirit of the game, because the rules clearly state why excessive backing up is wrong.

But that’s a whole different topic and the premise of this story has been unheard in cricketing history! Yes, one might wonder how mankading is an unknown/unheard facet, but the way Ashwin deliberately waited for Buttler to go out of his crease and bluffed him as if the ball had been delivered was nothing short of pathetic. It was a bit like Neymar Jr trying to dive around and earn a free-kick/penalty.

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If you have been debating on this issue with a cricket expert or someone who boasts of great knowledge pertaining to the laws of the game, you must’ve heard of the latest amendment made in the cricketing books with respect to the mankading incident.

Slight change to Law 41.16

“There is a slight change to Law 41.16, which should further confirm the principle, established in the 2017 Code, that it is the non-striker’s duty to remain in his/her ground until the bowler has released the ball,” the MCC stated in December 2018. So as per the rules, Buttler had to remain in his crease till the bowler released the ball.

There are no laws that stop the batsman from backing up, as long as he is not creating an undue advantage for himself by walking two or three yards beyond the pop-up. If you watch the replays on repeat, you will very clearly notice Jos Buttler backing up in the most legal way possible.

If Ravichandran Ashwin had gone by his motion and had not stopped/bluffed the non-striker, the chances of Buttler ending up in the crease at the point of release was very high. Even if he was out of his crease, I don’t think he would’ve been out of the given limits which exist for backing up. Here, the batsman was in a frame of mind that the ball had been delivered and another point in Buttler’s defence, there are no laws which state the batter should be watching the bowler till he releases the ball.

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For a bowler to use this mode of dismissal purely by instinct is absolutely within the laws of the game. But for someone to think of it even before delivering the cherry, creating a scenario where he can find the batsman out of his crease by intentional deception is utterly disgraceful and this is not something you expect from a veteran of Indian cricket with over 500 International wickets.

Unfortunately, for the above paragraph, there is no law in cricket which gives the umpires a right to judge if the bowler had done it intentionally or not. If that had been the case, Jos Buttler probably would’ve taken his side home to an easy win.

There are laws in Football which strictly prohibit and discourage any kind of play-acting or simulation and the offence can be yellow carded depending on where the incident took place (Nearby a goal-scoring area). The referees in this situation are allowed to judge if the player was doing it intentionally to create a goal scoring opportunity. Subjectively, umpires in cricket do not have any such rights.

We might not see simulation or deception of this kind coming into picture again very frequently in this sport, but its important on MCC and BCCI’s part to shut down that lane and state the world it is not the path they would want the cricketers to walk on.

Another one of the reasons why BCCI has to intervene and take charge of this incident because there are so many kids watching the game who would interpret the whole issue in the wrong way. It is necessary on their part as the hierarchy to make the rules as clear as possible for the viewers.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal views and opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of Cricket Tracker and CT does not assume any implied responsibility or liability for the same.

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