London: Former International Cricket Council umpire Simon Taufel on Saturday comes out in support of Ravichandran Ashwin, saying the Kings XI Punjab skipper's decision to do 'Mankading' has nothing to do with the spirit of cricket.
"My view on this particular issue is that it has nothing to do with the spirit of cricket. During our discussion, we spoke at length about Law 41.16. The intent of the law is that the non-striker should not leave their ground at the bowler's end before the ball is delivered. This is why the ICC has stipulated within their regulations and interpretations that the bowler can dismiss the non-striker run out up until the bowler's arm reaches the top of the delivery swing," ESPNCricinfo quoted Taufel as saying.
"What I did say to the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) was that maybe we could help people understand that this incident had nothing to do with the spirit of cricket, but rather everything to do with the run-out rule (Law 38) by repositioning this clause about unfair advantage under that Law in future," he added.
Ashwin's run-out of Jos Buttler in the match between Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals in the ongoing edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) was a major talking point. The player had said it was very instinctive but the MCC opined differently, saying the Indian player's act hurt the spirit of cricket and his actions were deliberate.
"All Ashwin did was appealed to the umpire for a run-out dismissal. He stopped short of delivering the ball and did not go through with his delivery swing. For him to be subject to adverse commentary that amounted to character assassination regarding his supposed contravention of the spirit of the game, is incredibly unfair in the way the Laws are written and the way they are to be applied," Taufel said.
"Both the on-field umpire and the third umpire did not feel he deceived the non-striker by waiting too long before breaking the stumps within dealing with the appeal - the ball was deemed by them to be still within play," he added.
Taufel also played down the talks of Ashwin's premeditation of doing the 'Mankading' act. He said, bowlers try everything in their disposal to get the batsmen out and send them back to the pavilion. He even backed the umpires and said it's a situation beyond the on-field umpires control and that is why the decision had to be referred to the third umpire.
"People also accused Ashwin of premeditation. My response to that would be: Well, so what? Bowlers attempt to get batsmen out LBW, bowled, caught, or by any other form of dismissal. Aren't all these premeditated? So I don't see how that is a relevant argument at all," Taufel said.
"From an umpire's perspective, it is a situation that is almost impossible to manage on their own, which is probably why Buttler run-out was referred to the third umpire. It is interesting that it was referred, given that the on-field umpire didn't necessarily think the ball was dead, and at no stage did Ashwin actually get to the point of vertical delivery. It is subjective as to whether or not he actually got to the normal point of release. So it is very understandable that Buttler was given out run out," he added.
Taufel even said that he had a word with Ashwin after Mankading controversy. "I was in India and spoke to Ashwin soon after the incident. I reaffirmed to him that it was unfair and not appropriate for various people to pull him up for breaching the spirit of cricket. I made contact with him to make sure he was fine and not affected by the comments and to support him on a human level. I told him he was within his rights to appeal and to attempt to run out the non-striker," he said.
Taufel was earlier the member of ICC elite umpire panel, winning five consecutive ICC Umpire of the Year awards between 2004 and 2008. He announced his retirement from international cricket on September 26, 2012, after the ICC World Twenty20 final. He subsequently worked as the ICC's Umpire Performance and Training Manager until October 2015.