Murali Kartik, the former India left-arm spinner, stirred up the English County Championship on Thursday (August 30) when he ran out a batsman who had backed up too far down the pitch.
Kartik, playing for Surrey against Somerset — the county he left at the end of last season — ran out Alex Barrow, 20, when the non-striker was out of his ground.
Gareth Batty, the Surrey captain, was offered the chance to call the batsman back by Peter Hartley but refused, leaving the umpire with no choice but to uphold the appeal and send the batsman on his way on the third day of this four-day First Division clash at Taunton, Somerset’s headquarters.
Although a legitimate form of dismissal, running out a batsman backing up is widely considered against the spirit of cricket and is rarely seen in first-class matches.
Kartik, though, had warned Barrow earlier in the over that he was backing up too far — something he no longer needed to do, following a rewrite of the relevant section of cricket’s rules last year.
Both Kartik and Batty were jeered by spectators and angry fans of both clubs made their feelings known to the Surrey duo during the tea interval.
Kartik, however, told his Twitter followers after stumps: “Everyone get a life please… if a batsman is out on a stroll, in spite of being warned, does that count as being in the spirit of the game?”
Somerset made 294 in reply to Surrey’s 317 and by stumps, Surrey were 58 without loss in their second innings, heading into what is sure to be a fiery final day.
“People obviously think the spirit of the game has been brought into disrepute — that was not my intention and I thoroughly apologise for that,” Batty said.
Marcus Trescothick, the Somerset captain and former England opening batsman, said he had been saddened by the manner of Barrow’s dismissal.
“I’m very disappointed. It’s not something you want to see in cricket,” he said. “I have never witnessed anything like it before at any level. Theoretically, Alex was out, as we all know, but it was against the spirit of the game.”
In February this year, Virender Sehwag, standing in for Mahendra Singh Dhoni, withdrew an appeal after R Ashwin ran out Lahiru Thirimanne, the Sri Lankan batsman, during a one-day international in Australia.
Such dismissals have been regarded as unsporting ever since Vinoo Mankad ran out Bill Brown of Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1947 after Brown backed up too far at the bowler’s end.
But even in Australia, attitudes towards ‘Mankadding’ are now changing, with Simon O’Donnell, the former international, saying after the Thirimanne incident: “Where does this spirit of cricket issue come from when what we are talking about is a batsman breaking the rules?
“If a bowler puts his foot just over the line he is called for a no-ball, so how is this any different?”