‘Ponting, Ashwin tiff can cost Delhi Capitals heavily’

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Ravichandran Ashwin, Ricky Ponting

Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting has said that he will not allow senior India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to employ the controversial ‘Mankading’ dismissal during the upcoming IPL because “it is not within the spirit of the game”.

Last IPL season, Rajasthan Royals batsman Jos Buttler was run out while backing up at the non-striker’s end, with Ashwin, then captaining Kings XI Punjab, choosing to whip off the bails as the batsman stepped out of the crease before the ball was being bowled.

However, Ashwin, who is playing for Delhi Capitals this IPL which is starting on September 19 at the UAE, had defended his act, saying it was within the rules of the game. In a bid to sort out this issue, Ashwin has had a telephonic conversation with Ponting.

The Daily Guardian spoke to cricket experts such as Chetan Sharma, Ayaz Memon, and Rajkumar Sharma on the issue that needs to be resolved before the IPL takes off. Expressing their views, all these experts said the Mankading issue will create problems for Delhi Capitals. Excerpts:

Q. What do you have to say about the issue of Ponting saying he will stop Ashwin from Mankading in IPL matches?

Chetan Sharma (CS): If we go back then we can recall the Australian player who is saying so about Mankading used to stand in the slip and give the decision without hearing the umpire. In 1983, I was playing the final of a tournament in England. We needed one last wicket. I had done Mankading at that time. That was according to the rule to do Mankading and not against the rule as I had warned the batsman at non-striker end not to cross the crease. But he did not follow, and I did Mankading. Yes, if I am going against the rule then it is wrong. Why should everything be in favour of the batsman? Also, give some consideration to the bowler, in the powerplay, only two players can be excluded, only two bounces can be bowled in an over, when all the rules are going against the bowler. You can only keep batting in a working game. I think if someone else replaces Ashwin, then Mankanding will do because that is the rule, cricket is no longer a gentleman’s game, which was there before, now people’s life is at stake, career is at stake. I don’t think anyone including the coach should refuse. Yes, there can be a discussion on this, I do not think there is a need to create a ruckus on it.

Q. As Chetan is clearly seen with Ashwin, in what also reflects the bowler’s pain. Ashwin has clearly said that if you will not let us do Mankading, then allow me extra delivery?

Ayaz Memon (AM): See, at this place Ashwin has come out with a very creative solution that you are not letting us do Mankading, then give us an extra ball. After all, the batsman has broken the law somewhere. So, there should be some penalty benefit to the bowler, like what Ashwin suggested to give him a chance to throw another ball. It is a different thing whether that ball will help him compensate for the loss because there could be a four or six on that extra ball also. In the present situation, two important things have happened. One, two strong personalities have come face-to-face. One is coach Ponting and the other is team capital Ashwin. What is important is whose decision will be of more value, either coach’s or captain’s. If we for a moment exchange their places and Ponting is made captain and Ashwin is made coach, will then the former obey what the latter asks on the field. What Ponting will do in that case is of importance. And the Mankading law hasn’t changed like that. ICC has said that in this case the batsman is at fault and he has to pay the penalty.

 Q. Rajkumar, do you agree with what Ayaz is saying on this issue between Ponting and Ashwin?

Rajkumar Sharma (RS): I have a slightly different point of view from Chetan ji and from Ayaz ji. I think sportsmanship does not allow it, but I also agree with Chetan that you give the batsman a warning if he again does it he is liable for the penalty. If you do not follow the rules then yes it is ok, you can dismiss him, but if you do it without warning, then it is wrong, it removes the spirit of the game. Cricket is a gentleman’s game and I want it to be a gentleman’s game.

Q. Despite warning batsman has been seen crossing the crease even before the bowler comes to the wicket to throw the ball. Ashwin has also said that it is like the batsmen coming out of the crease and the keeper is asked not to stump him?

AM: See the spirit of the game should always be there because if the spirit of the game is not there then it will be free for all. Nowadays, batsmen don’t walk out of the field even when the bat’s edge has come in contact with the ball. The technology gives him out, then he walks out of the field. He waits for the umpire’s decision to come. I agree with Rajkumar that the game of spirit must be there. But one more thing, the game spirit is important but to what extent it is also a matter of thinking; I believe that the player should be given a penalty of runs on the first warning and there is no warning on the second time. If in limited-overs you get a penalty of 6, 7, or 10 runs after leaving the crease, then it can make a big difference in winning the match.

Q. With the result of the game quite important, how important is the spirit of the game as well?

CS: See, the time when we were players, it was a gentleman’s game at that time. It is no longer that because of massive commercialisation. But even today, cricket is seen as a gentleman game. I found it right that a warning should be given, but Rajkumar also gave a good idea. The five runs penalty will do the trick. The batsman will be seen standing behind the wickets once his team is punished with a five-run penalty. While on the field, Ashwin should only listen to himself and not to his coach because if the team loses, then we will not raise questions on Ricky Ponting but we will raise questions on Ashwin’s captaincy.

Q. Ashwin’s statement also suggests that there is an ego clash taking place?

 RS: It is there that two strong personalities have come face to face. A third player needs to come between them to sort the matter out. This will be good for the Delhi Capitals if the team has to go ahead because if there is no coordination within the coach and the captain then it becomes difficult for other players to listen to the player or coach. I once saw myself in Ranji matches that the coach made the list of the team and when the captain was going to the field, he cut the name of a player and wrote the name of someone else as per his choice. And they were coaches who have been very big players themselves.