Is run-out at the non-striker's end still against the spirit of the game?

image-lcrjb8ffRohit Sharma greeting Sri Lanka's captain Dasun Shanaka

Run-out at the non-striker’s end has become quite a topic to discuss among all cricket fans across the globe. “Mankading” was the term used for such run-outs earlier. However, a larger pool of cricket fans refer to it as “cheating” or deem it as against the “spirit of the game”, meanwhile a small portion of fans who are well aware of the rules know that it is within the rules and to them it’s fair.

Understanding the rule:

Law 41.16.1 states that “If the non-striker is out of his/her ground at any time from the moment the ball comes into play until the instant when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball, the non-striker is liable to be Run out. In these circumstances, the non-striker will be out Run out if he/she is out of his/her ground when his/her wicket is put down by the bowler throwing the ball at the stumps or by the bowler’s hand holding the ball, whether or not the ball is subsequently delivered.”

As the aforementioned law clearly states, if a non-striker is out of the crease before the “ball comes into play”, the bowler has every right to run out the batter. Previously, it used to come under “unfair means”, but in the new rules which came into effect from October 1st, 2022, MCC has stated that running out the batters at non-strikers’ end will not be treated as an “unfair means”. Also, Mankad dismissals are classed as just “run outs” in the new law.

Most controversial so-called “mankading” incidents in recent times:

 Jos Buttler by Ravi Ashwin in IPL 2019

 Charlie Dean by Deepti Sharma England Women vs India Women 2022

image-lcrjx95cRavi Ashwin and Jos Buttler from IPL 2019 incident

And it happened yet again:

In the first ODI game versus Sri Lanka yesterday, Mohammed Shami found himself in a spot. He appealed for a run out at the non-striker’s end against Dasun Shanaka, while the batter was batting at 98 in the 50th over. 

Nitin Menon went for the TV umpire, but then the appeal was withdrawn after Rohit had a word with Shami.

Rohit Sharma, in the post-match presentation, spoke in lengths regarding why he withdrew the run out at the non-striker's end appeal. 

He said, “we cannot get him out like that, we wanted to get him out the way we thought we will get him out”.  

What I’m trying to figure out here is, if we would talk about such run-outs as “we cannot get him out like that”, then how would it ever be normal? How could something which is within the law could be ethically wrong, even if it feels unethical, it’s in the rules? If I were the captain, I would have backed my bowler for sticking to the rules but again, who am I?

image-lcrk1gghRohit in discussion with Mohammed Shami after the run-out saga

Now I understand that we were winning the game at that point when that incident happened. Shanaka was playing brilliantly, just two runs away from the century, but i’m curious to know what if it was a close game, what if Lankans just needed a couple of runs to win the game, what if it was a knockout game of the World Cup? 

I’m not sure anyone would have withdrawn the appeal then because, at the end of the day, when you go out there and play, you play to win, by all means, “within the rules”.

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