It takes something special to have your name given to a feat or a trait. Dick Fosbury flopped his way into the sporting lexicon. Jean-Marc Bosman and Maroš Kolpak have given their names to legal loopholes that altered limitations on movement between clubs and between countries. In cricketing vernacular, only two spring to mind: Bernard Bosanquet – although only a few wronguns actually call a googly a ‘Bosie’ – and Vinoo Mankad. Although next time you see the last over of an innings go badly wrong, we’d like you to at least consider using the phrase ‘doing a Kohli’.
Whenever a Mankading takes place, the cricket world can’t help but rattle their cages. It blurs the lines between playing to win and winning at all costs. It follows the classical tension between batsmen and bowlers and is regarded as Shakespearean back-stabbing. And it combines comedy and tragedy. Such a heady mix ripe for drama that isn’t associated, with, let’s say, the banter that ordinarily passes for conflict on a cricket pitch. Let’s start with the most recent example, from the West Indies vs. Zimbabwe in the U19 World Cup:
Okay, well as you might have realised, we couldn’t find an actual video of the incident in question on YouTube, thanks to the ICC’s draconian grasp of that most deadly threat to the game: people watching stuff on the internet. But this video is still pretty close, right down to the celebrations. Not many of the under 19s have quite such superb moustaches though.
As with a lot of things in cricket, a cause of all this kerfuffle is the spirit of cricket. The law backed up (awaits groan) the fact that the young Zimbabwean cricketer Richard Ngarava was indeed out, by virtue of having left his crease before Keemo Paul had delivered his ball. That Ngarava was only out by millimetres left a sickly taste in the mouth. However, it was the celebratory reaction from the West Indies that was truly nauseating. If we were feeling generous, we’d point out that they are young (ish) men who had just qualified for the next round of the most important tournament they will have ever played in. Yet would Paul have attempted to run out Ngarava if Zimbabwe had more wickets in hand? Or if it was not the final over and just three runs were required for victory? Of course not. This was clinical, cynical and something else ending in ical.
Before we get accused of being traditionalist fuddy-duddies who don’t deserve to write about sport let alone ever set foot in a sporting arena (and we’re expecting the usual abuse – ‘India haters’, ‘tossers’, ‘don’t know what you’re talking about you biased pricks’. We’ve heard it all before.), we’ll ask what the fuck is wrong with winning a match within the rules of the game? Sometimes the batsmen deserve to get run out. Screw the idiots who dangle their bats in the air like it’s a shopping bag. Fuck the advantage-takers who blatantly set off down the wicket early like Usain Bolt at the 2011 World Championships. Eoin Morgan, we’re talking about you. (Although even he got away with it, the jammy bugger that he is, due to the fact that Chris Gayle prefers to generally piss about and enjoy himself, rather than creating diplomatic incidents. Although he managed to combine both last time he was in Australia).
And then there’s Jos Buttler last year against Sri Lanka. We can certainly see Senanayake’s point of view, even if we can’t spell his name to save our lives: Buttler gets warned and still lazily wanders off down the wicket like an old man chasing an errant toddler.
However, going back to the West Indies example, it’s obvious that the batsman in that case isn’t remotely interested in setting off early. If the groundsman had used a slightly thicker brush, he would have been safe and we’d really be sticking the boot into the West Indies as a side who couldn’t even cheat properly, rather than one who just really, really wanted to win.
Of course, this topic always comes back to the spirit of cricket. This is old ground and will never really be a point of universal agreement. But in regards to the West Indies’ tactics, we have to ask if Richie would have approved? To which the answer is of course not, you fucking bellends.
Speaking of bellends, here’s serial Mankader Murali Kartik to finish us off with a horrendous example. The batsman barely leaves his crease at the point Kartik is due to let go of the ball. The only saving grace was that it was Alex Barrow at the non-striker’s end, at least saving him the ignomy of getting out cheaply in more traditional fashion.