Cricket, Culture & Confusion!

Cricket was and hopefully will be regarded as a gentlemen’s game. But over the last decade, the sports, which men dominated, witnessed a significant shift as women cricketers began hitting the right chords and simultaneously asking for their share of the pie. World’s richest board assuring Women’s IPL in 2023 has marked the arrival of women cricket and will put them one step closer to the stature of men’s cricket. After Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur, and Smriti Mandhana, another Indian woman cricketer did her bit to draw attention to the game for a cause; only time will tell if it’s for good or bad). 

25-year-old Deepti Sharma ran-out Charlotte Dean at the non-striker end has inspired the who’s who of the game to voice their opinion. ‘For’ are backing the Indian cricketer from one side of the aisle, and ‘against’ are raising their voice from the other. While the debate was supposed to stick to the game, Mr Harsha Bhogle, a renowned Indian cricket commentator, went a step ahead by referring to the criticism from the English cricket fraternity as a ‘cultural thing.’ 

In a sharply-critical thread on Twitter, Harsha Bhogle urged England to wake up from their ‘centuries-old colonial slumber’ and cited a law restricting the non-striker from leaving the crease till ‘the bowler’s arm is at its highest point.’ “The English thought it was wrong to do so & because they ruled over a large part of the cricket world, they told everyone it was wrong. The colonial domination was so powerful that few questioned it,” read one of Harsha’s tweets. 

Excerpts of Harsha’s Twitter thread-: 

As a result, the mindset still is that what England considers wrong should be considered wrong by the rest of the cricket world, much like the “line” the Aussies say you must not cross, having decided what the line should be, which is fine in their culture but may not be for others.”

“The rest of the world is no longer obligated to think the way England does, and so we see what is so plainly wrong. So too the notion that is turning tracks are bad, but seaming tracks are fine. The reason I say it is cultural is that it is what they are brought up to think. 

Responding to Harsha’s sharp criticism of not just England’s way of perceiving the sport but of their entire culture and learnings at a time when the nation is still coping from the demise of its longest-served monarch, England’s Test skipper and a quality all-rounder, Ben Stokes, led from the front and stood tall against the broadcaster.  

Is this a cultural thing?? …. absolutely not; I receive messages regarding the overthrows from people all over the world, as people all over the world have commented on the Mankad dismissal, not just people who are English,” Stokes wrote in response to one of Harsha’s tweets. 

In another tweet, Englishman revealed, “Harsha….2019 WC final was over two years ago, I still till this day revive countless messages calling me all sorts from Indian fans, does this disturb you?” Stokes quote tweeted the Indian broadcaster.” The Indian broadcaster backed Ben Stokes on his controversial dive in the final over of the 2019 WC vs New Zealand that led to the boundary from a deflection off his bat, eventually taking the match to Super Over, which England won on boundary count, but called the batter to have a chat over the ‘Mankad’ dismissal. 

While the debate over the controversial mode of dismissal is getting intense, with new stakeholders voicing their critical opinion, it’s essential to clear the confusion by checking what the book says. According to recently amendment rules by the MCC, the guardians of the laws of cricket, ‘Mankad’ is a legitimate mode of dismissal. The ‘Mankad’ – where a bowler runs out the non-striking batter in their delivery stride if that batter is backing up – is now deemed a legitimate mode of dismissal; read MCC’s guidelines. 

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