29 Mar 2019

IPL the problem with cricket, not the Mankad - Bidwell

3:20 pm on 29 March 2019

Opinion - Any chance this is all a bit of a stitch up?

Ravichandran Ashwin of the Kings XI Punjab dismisses Jos Buttler of the Rajasthan Royals by a controversial 'mankad'.

Ravichandran Ashwin's 'Mankad' of Jos Buttler in the Indian Premier League has divided the cricket world. Photo: Photosport

Until Ravichandran Ashwin's 'Mankad' of Jos Buttler did you even know the Indian Premier League was on? Or - more to the point - actually care?

Let's linger on the the competition for just a moment. It's grotesque. An embarrassment to cricket. It pays well, sure, but at what cost to the game?

Players routinely withdraw from international commitments because of fatigue, but never turn down their big IPL cheque. No, they're fit as a fiddle for that.

And that's the guys who are still playing proper cricket. Let's not forget the blokes who give the real game away to concentrate on the T20 stuff, further diluting international cricket.

Coaches are at it too, like our own Mike Hesson. He surprisingly walked away from the Black Caps with the world cup on the horizon, citing burnout and a desire to be at home. Only to be immediately unveiled as Ashwin's Kings XI Punjab coach.

Look, if you're a player or coach being paid to participate in this thing, good luck to you. The commentators make a good whack out of it as well and demonstrate their gratitude with some comical turns at the microphone. Sure, it's all nonsense, but only a fool bites the IPL hand that feeds them this well.

So while those with a vested interest tell you how great the competition is, those of us who actually like cricket wait patiently for the world cup and Ashes series to start.

But back to the Mankad.

Buttler was out. End of story.

Cue outrage from various cricket luminaries, including Australia's Shane Warne. A wonderful bowler in his day, Warne was also exceptionally boorish, routinely abusing opposition players.

In a colourful career, he was also sent home from the 2003 Cricket World Cup, and banned for a year, for use of a prohibited diuretic, as well as being fined by the Australian Cricket Board - as they were known then - after taking money from a bookie for supplying pitch and weather information.

He has called Ashwin's running out of Buttler disgraceful and against the spirit of the game. Never mind, of course, that it was actually lawful. Nor the obvious irony of Warne criticising anyone for anything.

A 'Mankad' for those not up with the play is a rare, and not universally admired, mode of dismissing a batsman. It's done when the bowler stops in his delivery stride and knocks off the bails.

If the non-striking batsman is in his crease, happy days. If he's off down the wicket, as Buttler was, then by the letter of the law he's out.

All of which creates a degree of interest - and certainly stories - where none previously existed. And maybe that was the whole point?

An incident has occurred to ignite the 2019 IPL and, almost on cue, the great and the good of the cricketing world have weighed in. Well, at least a few with IPL connections.

Warne, for instance, is the 'brand ambassador' for the Rajasthan Royals team Buttler plays for, having previously been the franchise's inaugural captain in 2008 and then 'team mentor' last year.

Say what you like about Warne, but there's certainly more awareness of the Royals' brand post this latest outburst than there was prior.

Funny that.

*Hamish Bidwell is a contributor to Radio New Zealand. He has previously worked at The Northern Advocate, Gisborne Herald, Hawke's Bay Today, The Press, The Dominion Post and Stuff.

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