Yesterday, the Sydney Sixers beat the Titans in a thrilling 2nd semi final. As a proud South African, it was very disappointing to see the Titans bow out in such a fashion. However, as I watched the last 3 balls of the match, it struck me that there is a something wrong with cricket, and especially T20 cricket, at the moment.
The last 3 balls of the match were 3 very good deliveries from CJ de Villiers and in fact the last 3 runs were all extras (2 leg byes and 1 bye). For the 2 leg byes, the ball barely left the batsman’s crease and the bye went straight to the keeper. Somehow, the Sixers stills managed to get a run off each of the balls and win the match.
This could only be possible if the non-striker backed up before he should have. If you watch the replays, you will see that the non-striker’s backing up seemed fine for the 3rd last delivery but for the last 2 deliveries, the non-striker was definitely out of his crease when the ball was bowled.
I don’t want to pick on the Sydney Sixers here as almost every team does it. At the moment, mankading someone (as it is called) is frowned upon and batsmen exploit the fact that bowlers are unlikely to do it. This is absolutely fine. However, the belief that mankading someone is against the spirit of cricket is stupid.
At first, in the days where test cricket was the only format played, it could be understandable that mankading someone was frowned upon. The batsmen weren’t rushing to get the winning run off the last ball ever and so the only reason a batsman would back up early would be because it was by mistake. However, in the days of limited overs cricket every run and every ball counts and so when a batsman backs up early it is probably not by mistake.
Even if it was a mistake by the batsman he should still be out. Imagine if a batsman top edged a pull and got caught but the fielding team didn’t appeal because the batsman made a mistake in the shot. You could say that’s a different scenario but then think of when a batsman gets run out because his bat bounces up or when Prior stumped Morne Morkel when he lifted his foot for a quarter of a second (that was insane timing). Neither of those dismissals are frowned upon much.
Yet, for some reason, getting a batsman out because he is trying to illegally steal a run that isn’t there is against the spirit of cricket? This quite simply does not make sense in limited overs cricket and the ICC need to change their stance on the issue to give bowlers a chance when they are trying to defend a few runs in the last over.
I would suggest that umpires be allowed to review when they think that the batsman left the crease early. If the batsman is found guilty, the first run should not count and the batsman should get 1 warning. It is better to take your time to get the right decision than to rush game along with the wrong results. If the bowler is able to dislodge the non-strikers bails with the batsman out, the batsman should go out straight away and it should just be considered a stupid thing for the batsman to do.
Leaving your crease early is cheating and so batsmen should be forced to watch carefully for when the bowler bowls otherwise they must face the consequences.
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