While I was browsing through Sky Sports’ cricket365 not very long ago, I stumbled upon an article written on Sri Lanka’s cricket by one of its columnists. The article was talking about how the little island nation would sustain itself in the big league after the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan on whom its cricket depended [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Bent arms and the spirit of cricket


While I was browsing through Sky Sports’ cricket365 not very long ago, I stumbled upon an article written on Sri Lanka’s cricket by one of its columnists. The article was talking about how the little island nation would sustain itself in the big league after the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan on whom its cricket depended so much upon. If I do remember right, the article said it would take ions for Sri Lankan cricket to come to terms with the realities of Muraliless Lankan cricket and questioned how it could sustain itself in the world circuit.

Sri Lanka's Sachithra Senanayake (C) appeals to umpire Michael Gough (R) after running out England's Jos Butler (L) during the fifth one-day international (ODI) cricket match between England and Sri Lanka at Edgbaston in Birmingham, central England on June 3, 2014. AFP PHOTO

However, thereafter the Muraliless Lankan cricket has proved that it has not lost its competitiveness at the highest level and gone on to win the world T-20 Championship and now have beaten England in England in T-20s and ODIs.

This particular achievement has significance. Generally during the first half of the English summer, teams, espeically from the Indian sub-continent, cannot give out their optimum mainly due to the low temperatures that prevail. This time it was not different. Still they were in their thermos and their hands in the pockets whenever they could. Yet at the same time there was a marked difference in their attitude. Looking close you could not help but notice the determination in their eyes. At the Kennington Oval and Old Trafford the Lankan batters buckled, unable to come to terms with the swinging “Duke” in the heavy English atmosphere. Especially at Old Trafford they played everything but potent strokes to get all-out for 67.

However, at Chester-le-Street, Lord’s and Edgbaston it were the English batters who found it difficult to cope with the Lankan bowling.
However, at Lord’s the Englishmen came very close to the Lanka’s imposing total of 300 through a heavy duty knock by their hard hitting wicket-keeper batsman Jos Buttler. Yet, there was something significant during Buttler’s and Ravi Bopara’s hurricane 133-run 6th wicket stand which came in only 16.2 overs at a rate of more than eight runs an over. After Bopara’s departure, Buttler and Chris Jordan added another 46 runs in 4.4 overs at the rate of more than nine runs an over to almost take the game home. If you were watching, you wouldn’t have failed to notice the number of twos the batsmen ran during that inning. On most occasions, the ball rolled over to the fielders in the deep straight, but the batters completed easy twos.

Then later when the Englishmen were whinging upon the runout of Jos Buttler at Edgbaston, I learned that Buttler made use of that cricket etiquette of a bowler not running out a batsman at the bowlers end. Buttler was taking the lead before the delivery thus gaining valuable yards to complete the twos.

I do not know what transpired at the after-match team meeting, but, at Edgbaston Sachithra Senanayake warned the batsman twice before putting things right. It may have annoyed the Englishmen, but the Lankans were well within their right to halt a batsman who was trying to take the law unto himself to his advantage.

I may ask why Buttler chose to ignore what Senanayake was trying to tell him. Was it his imperial attitude that he was not bothered by a gesture of the Asian cricketer? Obviously he was stealing runs under the very noses of the umpires who were well aware that the batsman was upto no good.

In the Daily Mail former England cricketer David Lloyd wrote: “The running out of Jos Buttler at Edgbaston was absolutely fine. I have no problem with it. There is no ‘Spirit of Cricket’ issue for me.

Sachithra Senanayake had clearly warned Buttler about backing up too far — and according to the laws he doesn’t have to do that — and it doesn’t matter that he wasn’t charging down the pitch. The England man was out of his ground.

Of course it was an unsavoury scene and everybody involved in the game would have wondered what they might have done. What you need is a strong captain who is able to step back and take the heat out of it.”

However in the same paper former Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardena clearly put the Lankan stance in the picture: “We always try to play in the right spirit but if the other team is not going to stay within the laws then we had to take the law into our own hands. We told the umpires about this and warned Buttler twice but nothing happened.”

As far as we are concerned, we were proud about Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews who was not afraid to stick by the right thing, without being servile to the Sahibs who ruled us once and are trying to do the same again.

In world cricket, the Englishmen are akin to powder babies. They like to keep living with that nice ‘Johnson’ smell.

In the seventies Michael Holding and company had the English cricketers running for shelter with a barrage of short stuff. They could not cope. Soon the laws were amended to one bouncer per over. But, when some English captain had dirt in his pockets, the story just died down.

Then while the English team was on top of the ICC rankings, the English batsmen were bound by a Saeed Ajmal spell that saw Pakistan beating England 3-0 in a Test series in the United Arab Emirates. The result: Ajmal was reported by the umpires for having a suspect action. The bowler was cleared when he was tested. The bend of the arm was less than the ICC stipulated 15 degrees.

Sachithra Senanayake, when he was touring England with the Lankan ‘A’ team on an earlier occasion was reported. He was sent for testing and cleared. Thereafter he came into prominence when he was invited to play in the Australian Big Bash in 2013 followed by an invite to play for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL. He was then drafted into the national ranks. Thus, he became a notable performer and a pivot in Lanka winning the T-20 World Championships. From that point to now he may have bowled in front of Marias Erasmus more than once. Even Jeff Crowe may have witnessed the bowler during that period. But, when Senanayake became a threat to the English batsmen on their own soil the independent ICC machinery suddenly became active and reported him.

The plain truth is if a bowler is bending his arm at his delivery point he is throwing and he should not be allowed to bowl even at domestic competitive cricket. Yet, the ICC has put some mechanism in place to address the situation. However, the testing is done in a laboratory environment. The bowler in question is cleared after the laboratory testing during which rectification is carried out if the bending is beyond the permitted degree.

However, what occurs in a real match situation is different and it can vary from delivery to delivery. This is where the discrepancy lies. The bowler should be tested by some means of testing during a match environment — when the real pressure is physically present. If a bowler is faulty, bar him from bowling from that point onwards. But, once he is cleared he should stay cleared. What happens in the test room cannot be taken for granted. The ICC either should test a bowler while he is performing with a bent arm during a match or not test him at all.

What happens now is because of the prevailing laws the umpires tend to ignore the action follies. But, when outside pressure is brought they begin to act. This scenario is not practical or acceptable.

A ‘chucker’ is a ‘chucker’ – if he is found guilty once he should not be in the arena. If one cannot perform the tests in a proper manner then let the wagon just go on rolling.

PS: The “Cook” was trying to “Balance” the “Buttler” by not going to the “Root”cause on how Senanayake sounded off the ‘Bell”. Half the English team is responsible.

In praise of … Angelo MathewsTrue, “in praise” is a bit strong for the Sri Lanka cricket captain’s refusal to apologise for the Edgbaston runout. But in defence of him …

absolutely. Mr. Angelo Mathews defends his bowler who ran out England’s Jos Buttler at the non-striker’s end. Yet such a dismissal is clearly permitted, and the bowler had twice warned Mr. Buttler against leaving his ground too soon. From here it looks like Mr. Buttler was trying it on, was warned, and got caught. During an earlier furore about this type of dismissal, a legendary cricketer took a more balanced approach. Such dismissals are against the laws for a reason, he pointed out.

In the words of Sir Donald Bradman: “If not, why is the provision there which enables the bowler to run him out? By backing up too far or too early, the non-striker is very obviously gaining an unfair advantage.” If it’s good enough for the Don, it should be good enough for Alastair Cook. It’s England who should apologise.
- From Editorial of Guardian UK



The first instance of “Buttlering” happened in the year of 1947. The dismissal involved the Indian bowler Vinoo Mankad. It occurred during India’s tour of Australia on 13 December 1947 in the second Test at Sydney.

In this instance Mankad ran out Bill Brown in the act of delivering the ball. Mankad held on to the ball and removed the bails with Brown well out of his crease.

This was the second time Mankad had dismissed Brown in this fashion on the tour, having already done it in an earlier match against an Australian XI. On that occasion he had warned Brown once before running him out.

The press Down Under accused Mankad of being unsportsmanlike, although persons in the calibre of Sir Don Bradman, the Australian captain at the time, defended Mankad’s action.

Since this incident, a batsman dismissed in this fashion is called “Mankaded”.

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