It’s cricket’s biggest taboo subject, and Aussie quick Mitchell Starc has reignited the Mankad debate after refusing to take the controversial action on Theunis de Bruyn despite the South African being fine at his crease.
The 32-year-old fast bowling veteran, who is nursing a broken finger, was upset after de Bruyn left his crease too early and went down the pitch well, not once but twice.
Before Starc could hit his delivery stride, he pulled de Bruyn a few feet outside his crease.
Mitchell Starc (pictured) was fired up after South African all-rounder Theunis de Bruyn repeatedly left his crease too early in the non-strikers’ end
This prompted a scowl from Starc, who was quick to warn the batter of his obligations.
‘Just stay in your crease, it’s not that hard,’ Starc can be heard saying in the broadcast.
‘The line is there for a reason.’
This prompted a shocked reaction from the commentary box, with former England quick Isa Guha saying simply: ‘My word!’
That’s one failed fast bowler there. He has a lot to deal with right now. You have to expect he’s going to be in a fair amount of discomfort because of that finger,’ Aussie Test legend Adam Gilchrist said on the Fox Cricket broadcast.
‘It’s been a long drift. That was a lapse of concentration from de Bruyn.’
Remarkably, just one ball later the fired-up quick took the wicket of Sarel Erwee, trapping the middle-order batting in front with a trademark searing yorker.
Mitchell Starc was comforted when he took the wicket of Sarel Erwee with a searing yorker, the ball after he warned Theunis du Bruyn with a withering stare and hit back for leaving his crease too early.
‘Just stay in your crease, it is not that hard,’ Starc (left) was heard on the stump mic telling de Bruyn on the fourth day of the Test at the MCG
A shot from the stump cam showed how far de Bruyn was outside his crease when Starc stopped his bowling action
A frustrated, but smiling, Starc opened up more about the incident, telling the Fox Cricket team that he understood why someone would be upset about leaving their crease early in the five-day game.
‘He’s halfway down Punt Road, isn’t he,’ he laughed in the broadcast, pointing to an iconic street near the MCG.
‘It is bad enough in white ball cricket, I don’t know what is needed is in red ball cricket.
‘I was just letting him know that if I have to keep my foot behind the line, he can at least keep the bat behind the line,’ said Starc.
Mankadding, running a non-striker before delivering the ball, has long been cricket’s most controversial law, and has been changed several times over the years.
Most cricketers in the Western hemisphere label the act as completely against the spirit of the game, and refuse to mankad.
Mitchell Starc is bowling in great pain after suffering a serious finger injury early in the match, ruling him out of the next Test
Aussie legend Shane Watson told Daily Mail Australia earlier this year that it was one of the worst actions a bowler could do on a cricket field.
‘For me, growing up, it was something I never thought about. You never thought to expose that [mankad rule] because it is not in the spirit of the game,’ he said.
‘I never would, even now with the rule change, because there are other ways to try to get someone out.
‘If you’re not good enough to get someone out the right way, I think that’s a poor way to get someone out – and if you can’t get someone out the right way, you should lose,’ Watson said.
Many in the subcontinent, however, are dismissive of the ‘spirit of the game’ talk, and insist on being well within their rights to do so, with controversial Indian spinner Ravi Ashwin one of the most prolific do an act
To that end, almost every Aussie fan applauded Starc for maintaining cricket’s ‘gentlemanly’ code of conduct.
‘Good to see Starc playing in the spirit of the game, and not going for a cheap wicket, love it,’ wrote one on Twitter, ‘Well done Starc. Shows how Mankad should be handled. Respect!’ said another.
Theunis de Bruyn was playing a back foot cover drive on Thursday, before he fell to Scott Boland
Others thought that with de Bruyn so far out of his crease, Starc should have taken the bails off, as he warned him once.
That’s why people are lazy. Ridiculous backing which is effectively cheating,’ one fan commented on the video of the incident on Twitter while another said: ‘If ever someone deserved a mankad it was then.’
‘Warning someone they’re cheating is one of the most ridiculous traditions in sport,’ commented one astute fan.
Starc almost tore a pulled achilles tendon, only to give de Bruyn a nasty glare. What a flirt,’ one joked.
By the letter of the MCC law, the so-called ‘Mankad’ rules are: ‘If the non-striker is not in his place at any time from the moment the ball is in play to the moment the bowler would normally be expected to deliver the ball, the non-striker is liable to run out.
‘In these circumstances, the non-striker is run out if he is outside his ground when his wicket is brought down by the bowler throwing the ball on the stumps or by the bowler’s hand handling the ball. , whether the ball is given or not.’
It was within Starc’s rights, then, in this situation to send de Bruyn off, but the popular Aussie had previously said he would never do so.
Not only that, he has a solution to the controversial task.
A happier Mitchell Starc on day four of the Boxing Day Test as Australia had South Africa on the ropes
‘While it’s difficult to do on all levels, why not take it out of the hands of interpretation and make it black and white?’ Starc told The Age earlier this year.
‘There are cameras for front foot no-balls, there are cameras there all the time [in international cricket] and someone is looking at the line.
‘Whenever the batter leaves the crease before landing on the front foot, dock them a run. There is no gray area then. And in T20 cricket where runs are so easy behind and games can be decided by, one, two, three runs all the time, if you suddenly get 20 runs down because a batter gets out early, you’re going to stop that, aren’t you?
‘Then there is no stigma. It’s taken away from the decision that someone has to run it or think about it. If it’s blatant, it’s a different story, but I feel that at least it’s completely black and white,’ Starc said.
For now, the debate will continue to rage, and light up social media every time it comes up in a fight.