March 16: Shikhar Dhawan’s record-breaking day could have turned out very differently but for a gesture by Australian captain Michael Clarke.
Dhawan, whose unbeaten 185 is the all-time fastest ton on Test debut, would have been run out for zero without facing a ball had the visitors appealed.
The opener was backing up at the non-striker’s end as Mitchell Starc steamed in to bowl the innings’ first ball only to see the cherry slip off his hand and hit the stumps. Dhawan, out of his ground, would have been out since Starc was yet to complete his normal delivery swing.
But the Australians did not appeal, presumably because of the “unsporting” tag attached to “Mankading” — a mode of dismissal known after India’s Vinoo Mankad who first effected it in Tests — though many have argued that it’s the non-striker who is guilty of trying to gain an unfair advantage.
When Vinoo was criticised by the press for “Mankading” Australia’s Bill Brown in 1947, Australian skipper Don Bradman had defended him.
Backing up is a universal practice now and anyone who attempts a “Mankad” — even after warning the batsman once as tradition dictates — is liable to be roasted.
India’s Murali Kartik found this out last year when, playing for Surrey in the English county championship, he ran out non-striker Alex Barrow of Somerset. Surrey skipper Gareth Batty, who turned down the umpires’ customary offer to withdraw the appeal, later publicly regretted the decision after a storm of condemnation.
Clarke may have avoided similar flak with his decision but, after Dhawan’s innings, he could be excused for wondering if the act of “sportsmanship” was worth it.