The Marylebone Cricket Club, who are the custodians of the laws of cricket, made changes to the Mankad law in 2017, permitting bowlers to perform the dismissal up to the point at which they “would be expected to deliver the ball”. That is a distinct change to how the law was previously interpreted as before the 2017 law change, bowlers could only do so up until they entered their delivery stride.
Ashwin’s actions created a lot of debate in the cricket world and legendary Australian opener Matthew Hayden got the ball rolling while commentating the match.
“That’s a terrible, terrible gesture,” he said.
Hayden’s former teammate Shane Warne was more expansive in his criticism of Ashwin on social media, describing it as a “disgraceful and low” act.
“So disappointed in [Ashwin] as a captain and as a person. All captains sign the #IPL wall and agree to play in the spirit of the game. [Ashwin] had no intention of delivering the ball – so it should have been called a dead ball. Over to [you] BCCI – this a not a good look for the #IPL,” Warne tweeted.
“As captain of your side – you set the standard of the way the team wants to play and what the team stands for! Why do such a disgraceful and low act like that tonight? You must live with yourself and FYI – it’s [too] late to say sorry Mr Ashwin. You will be remembered for that low act.
“Last point on the embarrassing and disgraceful act of [Ashwin]! This win at all costs mentality has got to stop and the integrity of the game along with the spirit of the game must be of the most importance, as we need to set examples to the young boys and girls playing cricket!”
However, former Australian batsman Dean Jones defended Ashwin.
“Don’t blame Ashwin here. As it’s allowed in the laws of the game … how is it disrespectful or against the spirit of the game if it’s allowed within the laws of game? Blame the administrators for making the law,” he tweeted.
“Ashwin just put his two feet in the crease … did not attempt to bowl the ball.”
Respected Indian commentator Harsha Bhogle agreed with Jones.
“Lots of drama on the Buttler run-out. He was livid but the law and the advisory on it is clear. The bowler is within his right to run a player out at the non-striker’s end if he is out of his crease,” he tweeted.
“Nothing in the laws though about warning. Just as there is nothing in the laws about a wicketkeeper warning a batsman for being out of the crease and not stumping him.
“I am hearing a lot of talk about spirit of the game. This law specifically came in because, taking recourse to this very ‘spirit of the game’ batsmen were running six inches less to complete a run.
“My final point on this. Ashwin ran Buttler out. It went to the third umpire who is on the ICC Elite panel. He looked at the replays and said the non-striker was out. He is the custodian of the laws and playing conditions. So irrespective of what Ashwin did, it was the umpire’s decision.”
Ronny Lerner is a Sports reporter for The Age.