Cricket: the Mankading “controversy” … Why controversial one asks?

I have reading, with much bemusement, about the controversy overnight surrounding the Mankading of Jos Buttler by Sachithra Senanayake in the 42nd over of the 5th ODI fixture between England and Sri Lanka.

My bemusement comes from the fact this dismissal is actually controversial! Consider these facts:

1. Senanayake warned both batsman in the 42nd about backing up too far.

2. Buttler ignored both warnings and backed up a significant way out of his crease on the ball that led to the dismissal.

3. Mankading, as a dismissal, is part of the laws of the game. Indeed in 2011 the Laws of Cricket were amended to make the mankad easier to pull off.

4. The spirit of cricket, which ostensibly is a fairness standard, allows for this form of dismissal in the context of the batsman both being warned and repeatedly offending in backing up too far.

Why then the alleged controversy? All we have seen in this game is the laws and spirit of the game actually working. I could understand umbrage being taken if no warning had been given but to have warned twice and then acted strikes me as conduct entirely within the game’s spirit.

English fans will no doubt make some allegation of cheating against Sachithra Senanayake but frankly the only cheats on the ground in the 42nd over over night were the batters backing up too far. The fact that one of them was dismissed by a bowling knowledgeable in the laws of the game and the spirit surrounding there application ought be lauded rather than demonised!

Well played Sachithra Senanayake for following the game’s laws and Angelo Matthews for backing his player in upholding the appeal.

If anyone should be hauled over the coals for breaching the spirit of cricket doctrine it is the English players for their over the top sledging of Matthews and others when it came Sri Lanka’s turn to bat but, of course, the ICC is part run by the ECB now so the chances of that happening are slim at best.

Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st test, Day 4

It has been a while since I posted on this blog. I apologise to followers for that: work has gotten in the way of writing which is something that vexes me greatly.

That said, having watched basically the full day of play yesterday, some similar themes about what it will take to “win” day 4 of this test match have been reverberating around my brain most of the night like a sirens song drawing me to the keyboard.

So, without further self indulgent preamble, here are my keys to success on day 4 at Blundstone Arena:

1. How many runs is enough for Captain Clarke?

Throughout the summer, Michael Clarke has shown good instincts with respect to timing of declarations only to be crueled, on the one hand, by an improving pitch (Brisbane) and, on the other hand, by one of the best rearguard innings since Atherton’s 185 off 492 balls in 1995 ( Adelaide). He is again faced here with the aegis of being one strike bowler under strength so will need to keenly balance batting Sri Lanka out of the game with giving his depleted bowling attack enough time to get the job done.

2. Who is the leader of the Sri Lankan attack and will he please stand up?

This is a Sri Lankan bowling line up that it would be fair to say is short on experience. Whilst Lasith Malinga plies his trade in the heady world of the Big Bash League (I concede he has not played in a test in over two years), the Sri Lankan fast bowlers together boast a collective experience of some 38 tests. In the first innings they looked to be bowling without a leader and, as shown by the lion hearted efforts of P Siddle, they will sorely need one in this innings to keep the Australian total down to a chaseable target. For me, the real key to a successful day for Sri Lanka will be how HMRKB Herath not only bowls but leads this young attack. With 5 left handers in the Australian top 7 and right arm bowlers foot marks growing today is a day made for a left arm orthodox tweaker.

3. Reviews, reviews and more reviews

The need to get the use of the DRS correct again raised its head yesterday with the Sri Lankans wasting their reviews on plumb LBW decisions only to see Herath dispatched by Tony Hill LBW having nearly hit the ball with the middle of his bat first. The Sri Lankan review methodology seems to be that whatever captain says goes so the pressure will be M Jayawardene to consult with this players and make reviews more prudently today. Two early “bad” reviews could, to state the obvious, be costly by the end of the day.

And that is it: how many runs is enough, Herath and the DRS are the keys to today’s play with the position the Sri Lankans are in by the end of the day largely reliant on Herath’s spinning finger.