Colonialism is a very broad term. Other than consisting of the mayhem spread by the European powers, it is also used to refer to the westernisation of cultures all across the world. In India, colonial impact is still visible in people worshipping white skin and following social customs made by them. It is one of the reasons why Mankading is still termed as immoral.
Recently, Indian Women and British Women were playing a dead rubber at Lords. The result of the game was not going to have any significant impact on the series whatsoever. In terms of run rate, England were motoring towards victory. However, they had only 1 wicket in hand. The team needed 17 runs off 39 balls. Clearly, the run rate was not a problem, but wickets in hands was.
Despite being aware of the situation, the youngster Dean decided to risk her wicket by taking a stride forward even before the ball was delivered. Sharma ran her out and the onus of consoling Dean was left on Freya Davis, who was on the other side of the strike . India had handed over a fitting farewell to its pace-bowling star Jhulan Goswami. But Goswami was not the headline after the match.
British are furious at Deepti
Twitter, the town hall of the digital world, started to pronounce its own judgement. Except Alex Hales, who apparently enjoys an acrimonious relationship with the English Cricket Board, no English expert has nice things to say about the incident. From the English side, Stuart Broad was the one who jumped into the issue first.
He termed Run out as a terrible way of ending the game.
A run out? Terrible way to finish the game
— Stuart Broad (@StuartBroad8) September 24, 2022
Then the man who once refused to walk despite a clear edge, effectively referred to himself as adherent of the much infamous spirit of cricket.
I find the debate of the Mankad really interesting. So many views from either side. I personally wouldn’t like to win a match like that, also, very happy for others to feel differently https://t.co/BItCNJZqYB
— Stuart Broad (@StuartBroad8) September 24, 2022
Broad’s bowling partner Jimmy Anderson used a deceptive picture of the situation to depict Sharma’s act as against the spirit of the game. He did not show that Dean was out of the crease when Deepti was just about to finish her bowling.
Will never understand why players feel the need to do this. Is she stealing ground? pic.twitter.com/KJi1Rgzmdi
— James Anderson (@jimmy9) September 24, 2022
Sam Billings, emerging star of the English Cricket Team, was probably angrier than these two. He even refused to call it Cricket.
There’s surely not a person who has played the game that thinks this is acceptable?
Just not cricket… https://t.co/VLGeddDlrz
— Sam Billings (@sambillings) September 24, 2022
Barmy Army, a fan club of English Cricket team having history of bullying opposition players like Mitchell Johnson also toed the similar lines.
Legal but that’s just not cricket. Terrible way to end a terrific game. #ENGvsIND
— England's Barmy Army (@TheBarmyArmy) September 24, 2022
Political Commentator and Cricket enthusiast Piers Morgan went a step further and asked India to be ashamed of Deepti’s run out of Dean.
Absolutely pathetic way to 'win' a cricket match.
The whole India team should be ashamed of themselves. https://t.co/TrGcU8CwqW
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 24, 2022
Unilateral attacks on Deepti did not stop until experts like Virendra Sehwag, Akash Chopra, Wasim Jaffer, R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Anjum Chopra and many others jumped in.
Funny to see so many English guys being poor losers. #Runout . pic.twitter.com/OJOibK6iBZ
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) September 24, 2022
It's actually quite simple. Ball comes into play when bowler starts run up. From that moment on as a batter or non striker you've to keep your eyes on the ball, if you're a bit careless, opposition will get you out. And you can get out at either ends. #ENGvIND
— Wasim Jaffer (@WasimJaffer14) September 24, 2022
Well done, Deepti Sharma. You did the right thing. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
And well done, Team India 😊😇 The sweet taste of a clean sweep on English soil. Brilliant. 😊🤩
— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) September 24, 2022
Imagine a World Cup final. 1 to level scores. Non-striker charges down for a single and is in by a quarter of an inch. Suppose it turns out that she had the left the crease before the ball was bowled. Would that be fair? Would running less to win be in the spirit of the game?
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) September 24, 2022
Game awareness from Deepti Sharma. A no ball at #ICC #CWC22 in New Zealand to the series win #ENGvIND @HomeOfCricket @BCCIWomen pic.twitter.com/tsRU0BiVOs
— Anjum Chopra (@chopraanjum) September 24, 2022
Lol really? Using a rule to their favour is still better than winning a world cup through series of wrong umpiring decisions. https://t.co/5MSRdXSYVb
— Amit Mishra (@MishiAmit) September 24, 2022
Spirit of Cricket doctrine
Judging by the rules of the game, Deepti Sharma did nothing wrong. Just like a bowler faces a no-ball and free hit on two balls for overstepping, Dean’s act also deserves punishment in the form of run out. However, it is a Spirit of cricket doctrine which is why there is so much furore about the incident.
The doctrine originated in England itself. Two ex-England captains called Colin Cowdrey and Ted Dexter wanted to ensure sportsmanship in cricket. Both these players had seen the evolution of cricketing rivalry over the decades. Ferocious bouncers, bloody noses, Aluminium bat of Dennis Lilee, underarm ball, physical fight between players had dented the reputation of Cricket. They wanted all this to end. While the bloody noses were stopped by irrational rules regarding bouncers, other phenomena were proving tough to stop.
To give institutional credibility to the figments of their imagination, a Preamble was written by Marylebone Cricket Club, the chief rule making body of the game. It appealed to every stakeholder, but especially players to maintain the spirit of the game. The preamble is designed to protect the gentleman status of the game which is a tag attached to the game ever since it came into inception.
Evolution of cricket
In today’s time it is tough to understand why it is called a gentleman’s game and frankly it sounds like an outdated concept. Apparently, the concept is another example of cultural imposition by the Britishers. To fully grasp it, let us understand the evolution of the game.
Cricket was originally a game with curved bat and ball. Initially it was only a children’s game. Soon, the elders saw it and started playing it for fun. For the initial 200 years, only underarm bowling was a norm. Soon, the game started to get more popular. With the spread to other geographies, the game itself evolved and by 1760s, pitching the ball through air became the norm.
The innovation introduced the concept of pace, bounce, seam, swing, spin and many other advantages for the bowlers. The first effort to write the law of cricket was in 1744. And later after the foundation of The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 1787, MCC published its first revision of the laws and became the guardian of game regulations.
Adaptation by upper class
Within no time, the game spread to the upper-class aristocracy of England. Like today, the upper class of England was not much into physical domain. They did not want to toil hard and only earned bread and butter through mental jugglery. Additionally, they also feared losing life in more physically competing sports such as football, Rugby, boxing and other combat sports.
Cricket did not offer such a grace risk. The upper class of England found it easier to adapt to the game. Non-violence, the hallmark of a morality for them, was a key feature of the game at that time. As soon as the upper class adapted to it, elders of other classes like upper middle class, lower middle class, lower class among others also started to play cricket.
Class divides in Cricket
Even in the game, British class divide creeped in. Broadly speaking there were only two classes in the British society. Upper class, which was more educated and took physical exercise for just to stay fit and the working class, which used to survive on daily wages earned by indulging in industrial units.
The players belonging to the upper class were called Amateurs, while those belonging to the working class were called professional players who earned their livelihood by playing. Amateurs on the other hand did not take anything other than travel and food expenses to play a match. Amateurs also reserved the word Gentleman for them, while professional cricketers were called players.
By calling themselves Gentlemen, Amateurs introduced various codes of ethics. For instance, to keep players cool and not let heat of the game take over, composure and solid temperament were promoted. Similarly, respecting captains, team mates, authorities, opposition players were also introduced by them.
Now, it is tough to say whether the concept was introduced to maintain a disciplined environment or it was the result of the fear of physical assault by the players. Professionals mainly belonged to underprivileged backgrounds and often found it tough to intermingle with amateurs even on cricketing terms. They were physically more threatening and bowled with rapid pace, something which was not foreseen by amateurs. There is a reason why first Australian bowling great Fred Spofforth was termed as ‘The Demon Bowler’. English batsmen, mainly composed of amateurs, just could not face the menace and so found it easier to villainize.
Morality centered around interest of the batsmen
Amateurs belonging mainly to privileged backgrounds mainly used to engage in batting. For them, bowling was considered lower in the rank order of artistry. This is the reason why even today the rules of the game are more tilted in favour of the batsman. Rules are only an outcome of the existing morality of the surroundings. Gentlemen of the game had already set the base by introducing their own moral standards. The moral standard was nothing but a blatant discrimination against bowlers. Bowlers were people mainly belonging to the working class of the era.
Though, running out batsman was illegal from the early days, it has been immoral from the day the first rule book came into game. But amateurs never had any qualms in breaking their own established morality barriers. For more than 5 decades, players from underprivileged backgrounds did not engage in running out non-strikers. The jinx around it was broken by an amateur named Thomas Barker in 1835. He ran out George Baigent of Sussex in 1835, more than 100 years before Vinoo Mankad affected such an incident.
Gentlemen breaking the rules
Later controversial English amateur captain Douglas Jardine also encouraged his players to adopt the same strategy, but somehow there is no evidence of his players using it. But Jardine was one of the expert amateurs, or should I say gentleman in breaking the jinx around gentlemanliness. In the 1920s, Donald Bradman was dominating English bowlers like never before.
]Jardine asked his bowlers to bowl bouncers to Aussies on bodyline, a practice which effectively was not used as it could cause death of the batsman. Jardine’s main loyalist in it was a professional bowler called Harold Larwood. Larwood came from a working-class background and had to follow his master’s instructions. The British threatened their Australian lives to such an extent that even Bradman could not score freely.
Working class paid for amateurs’ fault
Later Larwood refused to apologise as he said he was only following his captain Jardine’s instructions. The class discrimination was so much that Jardine was not even asked to apologise. If you are terming it as hypocrisy then you are wrong. It was class-based privilege accorded to a high-class Jardine at the expense of working class Larwood. A Gentleman could get away by indulging in an act while the same right was not available to a professional.
Over the period of time, gentlemen largely remained a term associated with batsmen while bowlers were put in a totally different category. Batsmen have always been a protected class due to batsmanship being adopted by British aristocrats during early days. Protection of batsmen is exactly the reason why bouncers by Holding, Marshall, Garner, Lillee, Thompson, Imran Khan made headlines. Underneath the concern for life lies the harm to the power hierarchy of the game.
It is to protect the power hierarchy of the British class that the norms around running out Mankading evolved. For nearly 200 years, the phenomenon was considered as unfair play. India’s R Ashwin with his ferocious defence of Buttler’s run-out changed the narrative. Only a few days back did the method of run out was categorised as run out, and not unfair play. But moralists are still shouting over their rooftops.
At the end of the video, I would request you to use the word Barkering instead of Mankading. If you still use the term, at least use it proudly and do not feel bogged down because Vinoo Mankand did nothing wrong. And neither did Deepti Sharma.
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