Sri Lanka have been given the ‘all clear’ by the venerable Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) over the controversial run-out of England batsman Jos Buttler during the deciding ODI at Edgbaston on Tuesday.
Lankan off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake ran out Buttler as the batsman backed-up at the non-striker’s end in a dismissal widely known as “Mankading” after Indian all-rounder Vinoo Mankad who dismissed Australian batsman Bill Brown during a test match in Sydney in 1947.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews’ decision to support his bowler was condemned by a mildly hysterical England camp with captain Alistair Cook saying Mathews had “crossed the line” because the perfectly legal dismissal was against the so-called gentlemanly “spirit” of the game.
However, the MCC – guardians of the game and creators of cricket’s myriad laws – say there is no question over the legality or spirit of the action.
An MCC spokesman said: “It is an emotive issue, but Jos Buttler transgressed a law of cricket and the club would not say the run out was against the spirit of cricket.
“The bowler gave a very clear warning and as I understand it the issue was also raised during the previous game at Lord’s.
In this instance of ‘Mankading’, the Sri Lankans have not transgressed the laws and it is not against the spirit of cricket to uphold a law of cricket.
“The law is pretty clear – It is an unfair advantage to be out of the crease.”
England’s anger at the decision was doubtless exacerbated after losing the five-match limited-overs series 3-2 to a side which was expected to struggle in English conditions.
Buttler had been warned by Senanayake several times during the match as well as the one before.
Senanayake and Mathews were roundly booed during the match whilst Cook was seen delivering an expletive laden commiseration to the Sri Lanka captain after the match.
Cook also warned that the up-coming two-match Test series would become a “spicier” affair as a result of the altercation.
England all-rounder Ravi Bopara said: “It is definitely not within the sprit of the game. For this to happen is quite sad, but if that is the way Angelo Mathews and Sri Lanka want to play their cricket then that is up to them. Hopefully, we don’t step to that level.”
Meanwhile Sri Lanka’s combative former captain Arjuna Ranatunga weight in to the argument, saying he would have recalled Buttler in keeping with the spirit of the game.
“We should have got him out and then (Sri Lankan captain) Angelo (Mathews) called him back to play,” Ranatunga told AFP. “I am not blaming Angelo or (bowler) Sachithra (Senanayake), but that is what I would have done.”
“Our (on field) warning to Buttler a couple of times may not go down in the record books, but if we recalled him, then it would be recorded and showed that we had properly warned him.”
Ranatunga, who led Sri Lanka to its 1996 World Cup victory, insisted that Sri Lanka was well within the rules of the game, but it would have been better if Butler was given another chance.
But Sri Lanka’s chief selector and former opening batsman Sanath Jayasuriya said that Buttler had received ample warning.
“No one can say our players did not warn Buttler,” Jayasuriya told AFP. “Beating England in May and June is not an easy thing for a foreign team. This means our game is good, our cricketers are good. We don’t have to worry about what they say.
“We warned Butler twice and got him out the third time. There is no issue with that.”
It was only the eighth reported instance of a batsman being run out backing up in an international match and the first since South Africa’s Peter Kirsten was dismissed by India’s Kapil Dev in 1992.