The ‘Mankad’: Important Safeguard or Superfluous, Antiquated Law?

The ‘Mankad-ing’ of Jos Butler by Sachithra Senanayake last night is the reason why we love cricket so much – and the exact reason it will never expand beyond its current international footprint.

It’s everything that is right about winning at all costs. And while it shows a cold-blooded streak that we here in Australia particularly crave from our own sports teams, it is also everything that is wrong with modern-day sport.

For the record, in my own personal opinion (which is obviously right and everyone should adhere to), it was a disgraceful act of callousness. Butler was in no way gaining an advantage; he was not attempting to run, nor was he trying to steal a few extra yards to pinch an extra run or two. He merely meandered out of his ground, displaced by the deception of a bowler who had no intention of bowling the ball – just like an outside back throwing a dummy to his opposite number.

Had Butler been halfway up the pitch, with his pads and helmet off, sprinting shoes on, wearing Cathy Freeman’s gold medal winning speedsuit from her 400m in Sydney, then sure, fill your boots, mate. ‘Mankad’ him, go mental and give him a send off while you’re at it for all I care. But this was not that. In every sense of the word, it was pathetic.

Aerodynamic
Aerodynamic

Sri Lankan captain Angelo Matthews was equally ruthless in his execution of “the laws” as he gesticulated to the officiating umpire that this decision was really out of his hands, and that Butler could be locked up for doing less in certain ideological societies. The umpire walked over to Matthews and motioned with a knowing look and tilted head as if to say “really? Do we reeeeeeaaalllly want to do this?”

It’s a ridiculous game, is cricket. I can’t think of a single sport which rivals anywhere near the catalogue of “laws” (they are not rules, they are laws) that cricket enforces, and knowing anywhere from 38-43% of them will make you as close to an expert as a bloke with 130+ test caps to his name.

This is the reason why Cricket and Rugby Union will never go truly global. No one knows what’s going on.

Football, as we will see over the next month or so, is easy and simple to watch. Two rules: kick it in the goal and don’t pick it up. Done, next. Golf: get it in the hole, you cunt! AFL: run around like a maniac and do whatever the fuck you want, just don’t kill anyone.

People are stupid and don’t have time to learn the intricacies of the LBW law or what’s going on at the bottom of a ruck. As a certain Mr. Watson has popularly exhibited, just because you play international cricket, doesn’t mean you understand the LBW law.

It should be noted that Senanayake was also reported for chucking at the beginning of this series. Way to keep a low profile, champ.

Keeping low-profile in a pair of Bolle glasses
Keeping low-profile in a pair of Bolle glasses

This is controversial of me, but part of me feels like its always sub-continental nations pushing the laws of cricket to the extreme.

That whole Murali thing got pretty ugly pretty quickly when everyone’s best mate, Arjuna Ranatunga, wanted to march his team off the pitch when his spinner was called for a magic elbow by Darrell Hair.

The Harbhajan Singh racism row with Andrew Symonds was an equally unpleasant time as they, too, threatened to call the whole tour off.

And then there’s Pakistan. Well, where does one start with Pakistan?

To be fair, Australia too has its own dark history of rule bending/cheating. Who knows what Trevor Chappell was thinking when brother Greg asked him to bowl an underarm against the Kiwis in 1981? And while we’re on the Kiwis, let’s not forget the ICC match-fixing investigation that is currently underway.

But on the whole, these ‘Asian’ countries are so passionate, loud and energetic. They bring colour, life, conviviality, atmosphere and something so different to the largely colonial, polite, aristocratic feel that the other Commonwealth nations possess.

I guess all I’m saying, really, is that you should play as hard as you can – just don’t be a fuckwit.

By Ian Higgins

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