Sunil Gavaskar interview: ‘When will the Aussies learn? It was Brown in 1947, and we are in 2020’

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Shared News: October 8, 2020 9:29:34 am
Sunil Gavaskar said, “My appeal to all Indian media and Indians is, if you have to use a name for such a dismissal, then use Brown as I did on television.”

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Batting legend Sunil Gavaskar was on air when Delhi Capitals off-spinner R Ashwin stopped in his delivery stride on spotting Royal Challengers Bangalore opener Aaron Finch way outside the crease. Though Ashwin didn’t run him out, the seasoned commentator feels that batsmen who try to take unfair advantage should pay the price.

In an interview to Media, Gavaskar calls the spirit of cricket a mythical concept and also explains why while calling Monday’s game, he said “Ashwin had tried to ‘Brown’ Finch”.

Why has this issue prompted such moral outrage in the cricketing fraternity?

The reason why this has become a moral issue is this so-called spirit of cricket, which is mythical. Just like the line the Australians say they never cross on the field. Even that is mythical; no one knows where that line is. It’s beyond me why getting the batsmen out at the bowler’s end – one who is trying to take undue advantage by stepping out – be considered unsportsmanlike.

R Ashwin stops before releasing the ball as RCB opener Aaron Finch steps outside the crease at the non-striker’s end.(Screengrab)

They have fielding restrictions that stipulate a minimum number of players within the 30-yard circle and if someone stands just a foot outside, then that’s ruled a no-ball. If someone gets out that ball, it’s not out. I have no issues with it, as that’s the rule. Why is it okay if a batsman does it at the non-striker’s end? In today’s time, thanks to technology, a batsman is run out even if it’s just millimeters and we fuss so much with endless replays to rule it out. It’s because of the mythical spirit of cricket, applied arbitrarily. Aaron Finch was almost a yard or yard-and-a-half down before Ashwin had released the ball. Just imagine the advantage the non-striker has.

The first thing that struck me when I saw that was when will the Aussies learn? Because it happened to Bill Brown in 1947 and we are in 2020; they still haven’t learnt. The simple thing is you have to look at the bowler and move out when he releases. You can’t look at the batsman, like Finch was doing and walk out of the crease. The law is clear. It’s as simple as that.

Should the bowler warn once? If you were the captain, what would you do?

Does the batsmen warn the bowler that he is going to hit him for a six? Or does a bowler warn that he is going to bowl a bouncer or a googly? Why should the batsman be warned? As a captain, I would leave it to the bowler. It’s his call. I will support my bowler 100 per cent.

What’s the way out? Do you suggest a way to penalise the batsman?

There can be one deterrent. Now that a TV umpire is always looking whether a bowler has bowled a no-ball, he can also look if the batsman has left the crease before the ball has been released. It should be called one run short. He needs to call it straightaway. The same camera can catch this. Even if the bowler hasn’t tried to run (the non-striker) out and has released the ball, the third umpire should call it one-short every time.

You have opposed it being referred to as Mankading. Could you detail out your objections?

Vinoo Mankad is a legend of Indian cricket, one of the great all-rounders who has won matches for India. And you use his name for, what is looked at by the cricketing world, as unsportsmanlike behaviour – that’s not acceptable to me. I don’t want an Indian legend’s name to be disparaged. It baffles me why so many in the Indian media keep using that word as if they don’t have any respect for any Indian legends. As Indians, we should be the last to encourage such usage. That’s why yesterday on television, I said Ashwin tried to Brown him. Because Bill Brown was at fault in 1947 and not Vinoo Mankad.

Sir Don Bradman, Australia’s captain then, too said: “For the life of me, I can’t understand why [the press] questioned his sportsmanship. The laws of cricket make it quite clear that the non-striker must keep within his ground until the ball has been delivered. If not, why is the provision there which enables the bowler to run him out? By backing up too far or too early, the non-striker is very obviously gaining an unfair advantage.”

By all means, don’t go by what Sunil Gavaskar says, but at least go by what Sir Don says and don’t question Vinoobhai’s sportsmanship. Just because some journalist in Australia used the word Mankad, why should we Indians use it? It’s clearly disparaging our legend.

Can some see it as a tribute? As a bowler, you need to be immensely aware, alert, have the presence of mind to abort your action, the skill to quickly whip off the bails, and have the strength of mind to handle subsequent criticism. So, can’t Mankading be a form of tribute?

You must be in a group of half a dozen who thinks that way! Also, more importantly, that is not the way the cricketing world sees it. It has a clear negative association. Gundappa Vishwanath famously recalled Bob Taylor in a Test in Bombay in 1980. Is any sportsmanlike act on the field after that called in his honour, do we say he did a Vishwanath? Why continue to use a disparaging term for Mankad?

When a bump catch is taken and we know who first started appealing for a bump catch, do we take that players’ name when something like that is done? When a frivolous appeal is being made, and we again know the bowler and the country from where he comes from, do we take that player’s name whenever a frivolous appeal is made? When a batsman stays there after edging behind, a practice that first started in English county cricket, do we take that player’s name in similar cases? Why then use Mankad’s name in this case? My appeal to all Indian media and Indians is, if you have to use a name for such a dismissal, then use Brown as I did on television.

Some Australian journalist called Harbhajan Singh the Turbanator: he wasn’t even wearing a turban on the field but a patka. Just because it rhymed with Terminator, we all started calling it. We should stop copying foreigners and be proud of our Indians.