At the non-striker’s end was an eager teenager called Conrad Wallroth, a First-Class cricketer known more as brother-in-law of Alfred Lubbock, one of the greatest batsmen of the early 1870s.
On this day, during his innings of 34, Wallroth kept stepping out of his crease at the non-striker’s end in his eagerness to get on strike. All this was observed by Eton captain George Harris, also a keen round arm fast bowler. He decided to bowl.
Harris deserves introduction. One of the most significant amateurs of the sport, Harris played for Kent for over four decades, and led England four times. He was one of the most important – if controversial – cricket administrators in the pre-War era. He also played a role in cricket’s rise in India in his otherwise stint as an extremely unpopular Governor of Bombay.
In a piece in a book on the history of Harrow, Spencer Gore described what followed: “Harris … noticed that Wallroth, who was well set, was backing up too eagerly. He put himself on to bowl (quite rightly, to my mind), and, pretending to bowl, caught Wallroth tripping, and he paid the penalty.”
Gore, of course, was the first to win a Wimbledon title. He did not play the cricket match in question but had led Harrow in the contest the previous season. Harris had played for Eton but did not lead them.
Two things are to be noted here. First, there is no mention of Harris warning Wallroth. And secondly, he found support from the author.
It is often assumed – this writer used to be under the same impression as well – that the incident took place in a Varsity match, probably due to an error made by the 1984 television series Bodyline.
But was even this the first instance?
Illustration by N Felix from 'Felix on the Bat' (circa 1850)
Not quite. This wasn’t even the first instance at Lord’s.
The Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians registers several instances of Mankading in First-Class cricket – albeit without much detail. The first five of these were by Thomas Barker, a fast round arm bowler, between 1835 and 1843. The fifth of these was at Lord’s.
However, none of these matches was as followed (Eton vs Harrow used to be one of the most significant features of the era) as the Harris affair.
In all, there are 39 such instances. Bill Brown (we will come to him) is the only man to be dismissed twice in such fashion. Of the bowlers, Barker has dismissed five non-strikers, followed by Mankad (Brown on both occasions), Charlie Griffith, and Murali Kartik, all of whom have done this twice.
If anything, they are less frequent than before. There have been three instances this decade (including twice by Kartik), but there was a gap of three decades before that.
Entering the cricket lexicon
The term got coined during India’s maiden tour of Australia, in 1947-48, which was also their first tour since Independence.
In a tour match at Sydney, Brown took a couple of strides outside the crease at the non-striker’s end. Mankad noticed, warned Brown once, and when Brown repeated the offence, Mankad ran him out. Brown left the ground fuming but found little sympathy.
Vinoo Mankad in his bowling stride (Twitter)
If anything, the Australian cricket fraternity mostly sided with Mankad. Bill O’Reilly commented: “There is nothing in the laws of the game to say that the bowler shall even warn the batsman of his unfair play. Mankad subscribed to the ethical rule … Brown was at fault.”
Three days later Brown did the same, this time at Brisbane. This time he got away with a warning from Mankad.
One wonders why Brown repeated it in the second Test, at Sydney. Did he think he would get away because it was a Test match?
Whatever it was, Mankad showed no sympathy and ran him out. Brown threw the bat on the pitch in anguish – but had little option but to swallow his pride and return to the pavilion.
This time Ray Robinson voiced his support in his report in The Sun. “Brown learns the hard way; run out again,” ran the headline of his piece.
On the other hand, Duleepsinhji took a different stance in his column in The Telegraph: “Although by the laws of cricket this was justified it leaves a bad taste. I hope I do not see another similar incident.”
Even the fans came out in support of Mankad in their letters to the newspapers. One excerpt from a letter, from a reader with initials IWM, included the phrase “the only bad sportsmanship was shown by the batsman.”
What about Bradman, who led Australia in the Test? He recalled the incident in Farewell to Cricket: “Mankad was scrupulously fair that he first of all warned Brown before taking any action. There was absolutely no feeling in the matter as far as we were concerned, for we considered it quite a legitimate part of the game.”
The dismissal had taken place before – but not in a Test match. Mankad entered the cricket lexicon.
The Hall and Griffith show
Only thrice more in the history of Test cricket has a bowler Mankaded a batsman.
When they toured Australia in 1968-69, West Indies were in a seven-year phase without a series win. Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith, terror fast bowlers in their heydays but on the wane at this point, are part of this story.
Charlie Griffith (Twitter)
Australia were 215/2 chasing 360 when Griffith, renowned for his hostile bowling (delivered with a suspect action, some claimed), saw Ian Redpath outside the crease while backing up. He promptly ran him out without bothering to warn.
Playing for Barbados five seasons ago, Griffith had Mankaded Alvin Corneal of Trinidad.
Griffith was booed by the Adelaide crowd, though as in the case of Mankad, O’Reilly voiced his support. But in the end West Indies captain Garry Sobers had to issue an apology. As for the Test, Australia finished on 339/9.
Surprisingly, Redpath was at it again in the next Test, at Sydney. Griffith would have certainly run him out, but this time the bowler was Hall, a man of God and later a Minister at the Christian Pentecostal Church. Perhaps he took mercy. You can never tell.
Redpath got away.
The forgotten Mankad act
The next incident took place at Christchurch, in 1977-78, where England were pushing for a declaration (though Geoff Boycott ended up scoring 26 off 80 balls). In his hurry, Derek Randall left the crease, and Ewen Chatfield, the bowler, threw him out.
The incident did not go down well with Ian Botham, the next man in. “Remember, mate, you’ve already died once on the cricket field; anything can happen,” he reminded Chatfield. Botham was referring to the Auckland Test of 1974-75, when Chatfield’s heart had stopped beating for a few seconds after being hit by Peter Lever on the temple.
However, it was overshadowed by another run out – by Botham himself, who called Boycott for a run and sent him back to allow the big hitters to come out. Rumours are that Boycott has not forgiven him yet.
The avenged Mankading
The fourth, and till date, last incident took place at Perth a year later. Asif Iqbal was farming the strike with great efficiency, allowing No. 11 Sikander Bakht to face only 3 balls in a 37-minute span. Allan Hurst ended the stand by running Sikander out at the bowler’s end.
Pakistan avenged this with the next wicket to fall, which was in the Australian innings. Andrew Hilditch picked up a ball and threw it back to the bowler, Sarfraz Nawaz. Sarfraz appealed, and Hilditch was given out handling the ball.
In coloured clothing
There have been several instances of Mankading outside Test cricket. Kapil Dev did this to Peter Kirsten at Port Elizabeth in 1992-93. Immediately after the act, Kapil raised two fingers at Kepler Wessels, the striker, to indicate that he had warned Kirsten twice before whipping the bails off.
Kirsten’s subsequent outburst cost him 50 per cent of his match fee. The Indians later complained that Wessels hit Kapil on the shin with his bat after the incident, but it was not raised further.
The series was, ironically, branded the Friendship Series.
At Chittagong, West Indies and Zimbabwe were playing a virtual pre-quarter-final in the 2016 Under-19 World Cup. Keemo Paul ran in with Zimbabwe requiring 3 off the last over with the last wicket standing. He calmly ran Richard Ngarava out at the non-striker’s end. Unaffected by the controversy, West Indies went on to lift the trophy.
Keemo Paul 'Mankads' Richard Ngarava (Twitter)
But controversy has inevitably been part of Mankading. As we saw the other night at Jaipur, the mode of dismissal almost invariably – and inexplicably – brings up the topic of “spirit of cricket”, a concept that remains subjective to this day.
Despite their code of conduct, ICC has never wanted to prevent Mankading. If anything, Law 41.16 of the 2017 Code made things more difficult for the non-striker.
MCC changed the title of the law to “Non-Striker Leaving His/Her Ground Early”. This was done “to put the onus on the non-striker to remain in his/her ground. It is often the bowler who is criticised for attempting such a run out but it is the batsman who is attempting to gain an advantage. The message to the non-striker is very clear – if you do not want to risk being run out, stay within your ground until the bowler has released the ball.”
At least the custodians are sympathetic to the bowler.
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First Published: March 27, 2019, 11:50 AM IST