Seventy-three years should be a sufficiently long period of time to get the hang of a simple fact of cricket: If the non-striker wanders out of the crease before the bowler has released the ball, the player is liable to get out.
Mulvantrai Himmatlal “Vinoo” Mankad executed a much-discussed dismissal when he ran out Australian opener Bill Brown in the 1947-48 series for backing up too far. Reports of the time said he had warned Brown during a previous practice match and in fact the dismissal at Sydney was the second time he got the batsman, this time striking without any warning.
The idea that a bowler is somehow duty bound to “warn” a batter that she might get out for prematurely leaving the crease is one of the quaintest in cricket. One might as well begin “warning” batters that moving across the stumps could get them LBW or leaving wickets exposed could mean being yorked!
Of all the disingenuous explanations, mostly by English commentators, offered to somehow suggest Sharma acted in a “pre-mediated” manner is the allegation that she had no intention to bowl the ball. This is based on selective frames of the run out. The full sequence clearly shows that Dean was way out of crease. Not just that. The previous ball also had Dean well out of the crease. So, if a batter repeatedly steps out of the crease, is it unexpected that she will NOT complete her action and instead run out the errant player?
Twitter user Peter Della Penna, who’s handle says he watches and plays cricket, has in a long thread, backed with stills from the match, revealed that Dean left her crease early 73 times in the England innings, including the ball she got out to. This accounts for 85% of the balls when she was at the non-striker end. And the Indian players were expected to warn her.
The debate over whether Sharma had no “intention” to bowl is therefore a spurious one. Any batter must know that leaving the non-striker’s crease early is a risk. It is not as if Sharma suddenly braked and allowed Dean to leave the crease and then cannily ran her out. As replays showed, Dean was repeatedly guilty of early starts attempting to steal as much as 12-18 inch head starts.
Only the very naïve or duplicitous could expect India’s Deepti Sharma to “warn” England batter Charlotte Dean when the hosts were within 17 runs of winning with one wicket in hand. The rules of game leave no room for ambiguous and selective application of “sporting spirit” making Dean’s dismissal a perfectly legitimate “run out”.
No amount of wailing about sporting norms being violated can divert attention from the England women’s team losing the series 3-0 to India on home turf. In the last ODI, India’s much below par 169 should hardly have caused England to depend in the last pair. The fact is that while India would earlier lose to England regularly as it did in the ODI world cup final in 2017, the team has vastly improved. Under Harmanpreet Kaur, the team has become a fighting unit and beat England in the Commonwealth Games semi-final recently and almost got the better of Australia in the final.
Many years ago, when neutral umpires were not the norm, and touring Indian sides regularly got the short end of the stick, Sunil Gavaskar told a press conference in Adelaide that visitors to India who complained about umpiring were just a bunch of “….(expletive deleted) groaners and moaners”. Now that the playing field has evened out, the manufactured outrage is vented on social media.
There is little to be gained by claiming that England was done in by stealth and cunning (many comments have the deceitful oriental undertone). With the target so much in sight, Dean would instead have done well to be careful about not exposing herself to unwarranted risks.
After the match, Harmanpreet said she backed the run out and the team would do so again if needed. This should now suffice as a “warning” for those who missed out in the past seven decades and more.