As I’m sure you will have heard, the U19 Cricket World Cup match between Zimbabwe and the West Indies was decided by a Mankad dismissal. Zimbabwe were nine down and needing three to win off the last over, before the Windies spinner Keemo Paul ran out Richard Ngarava at the non-striker’s end to give them a quarter-final berth. Everyone has an opinion on it, and I’m here to give you mine.
In a way, this is just like Ben Stokes obstructing the field last year, except for one thing. Nearly everyone in the sphere of cricket writing I hang around in is either Australian or English. As such, we both had national pride at stake in that debate.
I think I know one or two from the West Indies and Zimbabwe combined. So everyone has an opinion, one that we can voice without being blasted for being biased to/betraying our home nation.
So, let’s hear it.
For one, it says so right there in the preamble to the Laws of Cricket that:
Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its Laws but also within the Spirit of the Game. Any action which is seen to abuse this spirit causes injury to the game itself. The major responsibility for ensuring the spirit of fair play rests with the captains.
However, people will also remind you that law 42.15 states:
The bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to attempt to run out the nonstriker.
I’m going to say that, if something’s in the rules, then it’s within the spirit of cricket. Cricket may be a game where you care about your opponents in depth, but I’m sure that everyone would be in support of you trying to do the best for your team.
People may be arguing on why they didn’t retract the appeal, something people are within their power to do, but think of it this way. If you win the match, you’re in the quarter final. You need to get one wicket to do that, while they need to score just three runs. It was some pretty good thinking from Paul.
As for where this stands in the spirit of cricket, we’ll rely on this chart:
So the standing is that it’s not really within the spirit, but it should be given out.
I’ve tried to Mankad someone myself, I did it in a game of U12s. Since I didn’t give him a warning, the umpire ruled not out, and I was annoyed at the time. Now I’m older and wiser, and I realise that was a pretty stupid thing to do.
Most of the time, people will let Mankad opportunities go by. Not Keemo Paul. He’s copping an unbelievable amount of flak for this, but we should let it go.
He’s 17 years old. He’s still developing as an international cricketer.
Just leave it be.