Philosophy,  Rules

What You Didn’t Know That You Didn’t Know

If you've checked out any of the rest of the CricAmerica site, you know my backstory. I'm a huge sports fan living in Boston who accidentally discovered cricket about three years ago and has been obsessed with it ever since. In that time, I've seen some incredible matches and amazing individual performances, learned a ton about a fascinating game and the nations that play it, and met a mess of really cool people. I've even managed to bang out close to 20,000 words about the sport and arrange it into a website.

If you've ever thrown yourself headlong into learning something vast and new, whether it's a language, a branch of science, or simply a game where a guy whips a ball at a guy with a stick, there are cool discoveries to made. Knowledge is an interesting thing.

There are things we know that we know. For example, I know that I know that the capital of France is Paris.

There are things we know that we don't know. For example, I know that I don't know how birds fly.

The coolest, though, is when we discover that there are things we didn't even know that we didn't know.

This week in cricket has been all about that third chunk of knowledge. I woke up Monday morning having never heard the name Vinoo Mankad before. A few days later, not only do I knew who Mankad was, but I've seen his name transformed into a verb, adjective, adverb, and gerund. More importantly, I've seen his namesake maneuver splinter the global cricket community over the rules of the game and the "spirit of cricket."

Here's a replay of Ravi Ashwin mankading Jos Buttler in case you want to see it for the thousandth time…

When I initially saw it, I looked at it just like a pick-off in baseball. During his run-up, Ashwin saw Buttler stepping out of the crease too early and simply put him out. Pick-offs and pitch-outs keep runners honest in baseball and I was assuming the same was the case here.

How wrong I was! After reading dozens of articles and seeing countless freeze-frames and other still pictures, I found myself knees-deep in a philosophical debate over intent, moral character, and if such a move by a player violated the spirit of cricket. And with every new op-ed and tweet I read, I found myself wandering deeper into the murky water.

As a relative newcomer to the sport, the closest I've seen to a controversy this large was the sandpaper ball-tampering incident that got Australia in so much trouble. And while that even made the news here in the US, it wasn't nearly as polarizing. The Australians clearly violated the rules of the game by tampering with the ball. And by so brazenly violating the rules of the game, they had no doubt also acted in a way that was in direct conflict with the spirit of cricket.

So, do I have an opinion on the mankading? Nope. Was Ashwin within his right to put out Buttler in such a way? Was Buttler guilty of being too lax -- or too aggressive -- as a non-striker? Do the rules need to be changed to prevent this from happening again? Who knows? Going back somewhat to what I wrote at the top of all this -- I just don't know enough about what I don't know enough about to answer with any credibility.

My goal for CricAmerica has always been that it would explain and demystify the sport of cricket for sports fans who may not know much about the game. Sometimes, though, all I can do is smile and nod, pretend like I understand what's going on, and excuse myself to go get another beer.

One Comment

  • Lucian

    BBC’s Stumped had a good debate over whether or not it was indeed, “just not cricket”.
    While allowed in the rules of cricket, and frankly necessary to keep the second batter from gaining a run advantage, it was basically a pitcher’s balk and tag of someone on first for a baseball comparison. The debate over the spirit of the gentleman’s sport, is wonderfully cricket.

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