Cricket – it is usually defined as the contest between the bat and ball; In the last decade though, with the invention of twenty20 cricket and various law changes from power plays and the reduction of bouncers have neutered the bowlers on placid pitches that serve up 300+ targets with disturbing regularity in the last few years.
Looking through ‘statsguru’ the stats machine on cricinfo, there has been 143 scores off 300+ since 2009 in One Day Internationals (ODIs). One man decided to fight back though, in last night’s fifth and deciding ODI between England and Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan spinner Sachithra Senanayake got one back on the batsmen.
Senanayake who bowled the 45th over for the traveling team warned England’s wicketkeeper batsman, Jos Butler about backing up too far twice, in the 42nd over thus was ready to put himself at the center of a controversy. He did this, by ‘mankading’ Buttler who backed up too far for a third time. After a slight debate between the umpires and Angelo Matthews, the dreaded finger was raised, Butler was out and England finished four runs short of their needed target.
We’ll back up for a moment though and explain a ‘mankad’ for people. A mankad is a type of run-out popularised by Indian bowler Vinoo Mankand after he ran out Australian Bill Brown in 1947. Since then – the dismissal method has been branded ‘unsportsmanlike’ by most but it is legal (since 2011) plus one weapon for bowlers in a game where bats sizes and the run-rate have skyrocketed to keep batsmen in check at least at the non-striker’s end.
Here is the incident for those who may have not seen it;
England quite predictably are outraged by the dismissal, Graheme Swann and Michael Vaughan calling it against “the spirit of the game”, “like cuddling up to your sister.” The phrase which gets invoked by shrieking opposition usually Australia or England when something goes against them. Spirit of the game is a mythical ethos that nostalgic cricket watchers like to hold onto harking back to a by-gone era of amateurism and supposed gentlemanly conduct.
Cricket isn’t that game anymore, it hasn’t been for twenty years – England should look at their own backyard, as they collapsed with the regularity of a jenga game again. They started off 1/98 before losing their bottle again (sound familiar Australians?), so the “unsportsmanlike” dismissal didn’t cost them – it is an excuse they can now wheel out to cover the fact, they lost another series after the recent disasters against Australia.
This writer salutes Senanayake in striking a blow for the bowlers and fans who enjoy watching a lower scoring contest instead of these boring 300+ chases that come down to who can hit the more sixes in an innings.. yawn.