Make the laws explicitly clear or stop bleating
The Buttler Mankading incident has caused something a furore. An inexplicable furore in my view. He was out of his crease, he was run out fair and square. He didn’t even need to be warned although out of politeness they did – twice.
The crux of the problem is that the laws say one thing, the ICC playing conditions 2014 say another and the unwritten code of etiquette (the dreaded spirit of cricket) say another.
Yes – an unwritten code of etiquette. The set of rules that aren’t written down that are “just not the done thing”.
I’m not entirely sure how one is supposed to know about these unwritten rules but woebetide if you go against them. The cricketing fraternity will call you unsportsmanlike, ungentlemanly or worse – a cheat.
It’s precisely this sort of nonsense that make sports like cricket and golf seem elitist, snobby and inaccessible.
It’s exactly the same sort of furore we have when players nick off and don’t walk.
It is time to put an end to these grey areas and cut out the arguments about ungentlemanly behaviour
1) If we don’t want people to mankad, it needs to be explicit in the laws. Or make the laws explicit that the non-striker shouldn’t leave their crease until the bowler has released the ball (that would soon stop them going walkabouts and gaining an unfair advantage which is essentially what backing up is)
2) Make sure that the laws are the laws and the playing regulations are merely to set out differences in formats such as playing times, points, the colour of the ball and powerplays etc.
3) Either make the spirit of cricket clearer or get rid of it all together. The nonsensical “pre-amble” to the laws is neither one thing nor t’other. We don’t need to write down that people shouldn’t abuse each other or the umpire. They don’t have a “spirit of darts” or a “spirit of table tennis”. Why? Because there’s no need. We all know that you need to not abuse officials, players or spectators and that dissent towards an umpire is not on (and indeed this last one should be put in the actual laws).
Make the laws explicit on mankading, walking or not-walking, claiming a catch and all the other things that cause furore’s and then let the umpires make their decisions based on these.
In the case of mankading – nowhere does it say you have to warn the batsmen; that is merely another of these “unwritten matters of etiquette” that do nothing but cause hassle.
If we continue with all these grey areas, differences in laws and playing regs and bizarre romantic notions of gentlemanly behaviour I really don’t know how those who are coming new to the game have any idea what’s going on? Even those of us entrenched in the game find it beyond ridiculous at times.