Vinoo Mankad and that run out

The verb, the act, the history.

Vinoo Mankad began as a proper noun. He became a noun. And then a verb. But he started as a cricketer. On December 13, 1947, Vinoo Mankad etched his name in the cricket lexicon by getting a dismissal mode named after him. Except, he really didn't. Not then, anyway.

You can't tell that Vinoo Mankad story without Bill Brown. He was a high-quality batter. Not that he had a huge ego - he said that making it to lunch was a success. He should have been far more famous. He had a 14-year career, but sadly on either side of World War 2. Instead of becoming one of the greatest Australian players, he has only 1500 runs.

And runs, in his case, is the right way of thinking about it. Because of all the things Brown was known for, one of them was running between the wickets. He often referred to his batting as tip and run. Australia were already the most aggressive runners between the wickets, yet Brown still stood out. He was also a fantastic athlete on the field, and he was lightning between the wickets.

There was one reason he was better doing this than others; it was because he'd back up a long way at the non-striker's end. How far? Well, that is where the main hero comes in.

Vinoo Mankad could bat too; he was not quite on Brown's level. He was an all-rounder. When he retired, he had the fourth most runs by any Indian. That would be great as a batter, but to do it with what was probably his second skill is amazing. We never saw him bat to the level he should have, just because he was a hard hitter when that was frowned on.

He still has the second-highest partnership ever opening the batting. A truly incredible 413 with Pankaj Roy against New Zealand.

But he also made two hundreds in Australia from only eight attempts. And not any Australia, but the '48 Aussies, a few months before they became known as the Invincibles. They had Lindwall and Miller in that attack. This guy can bat.

But of course, we need to get to the first run out. Because that is why we are here. On the 47/48 tour of Australia, India actually played six tour games before the first Test. The first four went by without any problems.

Bill Brown was in the fifth match playing for the Australian XI. The game was famous already because, in the first innings, Don Bradman made his 100th hundred.

Eventually, India would set a chase of 251 in 150 minutes. It meant the home team had to really go for it and probably take a few more risks than usual.

So that is a perfect situation for a spinner on the last day, and that's what happened, Vinoo Mankad went crazy. He dismissed Keith Miller, Sam Loxton and Don Bradman in a spell of eight for 84 and won the game.

But he took nine wickets. Because Bill Brown was leaving the crease early after a solid opening partnership, and Mankad gave him a warning. Then he did it again, and Mankad took the bails off.

After the game, Brown dismissed press questions: "The whole thing happened on the field, and it is finished and done with." Remember, this was just a tour match.

Of course, that was not the first time we saw a Mankad in first-class cricket. We saw our first recorded one more than 100 years earlier. Then one the following season, and again the year after that. We then had a break before we had two more.

In the rest of the 1840s, there were a couple more. In the 1860s, there were four more, then another gap, before the 1880s and 90s start up again. Then not one for over forty years.

Then they came back into vogue in the 1930s, and of course, the Bill Brown Vinoo Mankad one happened in 1948.

Those early mankads come awfully close to each other. I wonder what was going on there. Wait, what? They were all done by one man, Thomas Barker.

Only three other men performed more than one mankad in first-class cricket. Vinoo was obviously one. The most recent was Murali Karthik, who performed them regularly towards the end of his career.

The other was Bill Hendley from New Zealand. Now this was a man in the 1860s who played eight first-class matches. And in one of them, he took a wicket that was recorded - incorrectly, of course - as stumped and bowled, Hendley.

Despite three paragraphs on the pitch in the match report, there are only two lines on the bowler stumping a batter at the non-striker's end. It seemed to have no real impact on anyone other than the confused scorer.

There is also no mention of Hendley doing this before, also in a match between Canterbury and Otago.

Bill Hendley played eight matches and committed two mankads, and it wasn't even mentioned in his obituary.

But Murali and Hendley were amateurs compared to the OG. Let us go back to the start, remember all those occurrences in a row. Well, shall we take a close look at that? The first one was by Thomas Barker, the second by Mr Barker again, and the third, you guessed it, Tommy B. Can we get four in a row? Yes, we can. What about five? The first five mankads recorded in the history of first-class cricket are all to one man, Thomas Barker.

Would you like to know how many matches the five-time mankading champion of the world Tom Barks played? Nine. He averaged more than half a Mankad per game.

And so you may think, well, how did this casual cricketer get away with so much carnage in so few games? Well, Tommy Boy was an amateur, meaning he was allowed to do stuff like this. But he's also the first-ever chair of a little team you might have heard of, the Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

And he did all of this, and they still didn't name the thing after him. There should be a statue of him at Headingley taking the bails off with a smirk at the least.

Mankad was a much better player than Barker. Earlier, we mentioned he was an opener, but that undersells him. Mankad batted all 11 spots in Test cricket. Making him one of three players in the entire history of the sport to do this. Syd Gregory and Wilfred Rhodes also did it.

Pakistan's Nasim-ul-Ghani batted in every position from opener to No. 11, but never faced the first ball of an innings, so technically was never a number one. Anyone who does this is an extraordinary cricketer. You are not supposed to do this. It's not an accident that so few ever have.

The weird thing about Vinoo Mankad is that he was really good when he opened. He averaged 40 batting up the top, and everywhere else combined, he was half the player. So while his overall average of 32 doesn't blow off any doors. When used correctly, he was a hell of a batter. Plus, anyone who can be a frontline bowler and still end up with these numbers with the bat is a freak.

Remember the first Vinoo Mankad mankad was done in a tour game. The funny thing is that after four games, Vinoo and Bill had no involvement. Then they played in back-to-back tour games and then the first two Tests.

We know Brown was likely at the non-striker's end for the tour match versus Queensland when Mankad bowled because the spinner took the opener LBW. But there was no mankad.

Then the Tests started. The first one was brutal for India. But Brown failed early the one time he batted and probably was out before Mankad bowled. That innings is probably more notable for Australia losing two batters hit wickets. India didn't cross 100 on either try.

The Tests moved from Brisbane to Sydney for what would be a rain-soaked terrible Test. The first day was almost a complete washout. The second, India had to bat on a wet wicket, and luckily it dried it enough for them to make it 188. This meant that Australia had to survive to the close.

The openers put on 25 runs when Vinoo Mankad was bowling to Arthur Morris, with Bill Brown at the non-striker's end. Brown took advantage again; this time, Mankad didn't even warn him; Brown was run out. He flung his bat onto the ground and made his way off the field. Stumps were called a few minutes later.

Usually, when something like that happens, the cricket would continue the next day, and so the controversial issue would be one of the talking points, but eventually, the cricket would dilute it.

What followed was actually a rest day. This allowed for more talk about the runout. Then it continued as days three and four were also washed out. Day five was the only one with cricket, and Australia collapsed on another wet wicket. Then day six was washed out. So after Brown's run out, there were four days of no cricket.

It wasn't really the press who led the attack on Mankad; it was more the letters to the editors. The newspapers were flooded with angry fans voicing their disgust. The majority of the pieces I could find talked about how it was a justified act.

This is an article from Adelaide talking about how many cricketers were on Mankad's side. In fact, if you zoom in here, you will see a story about this happening in grade cricket in Adelaide. The bowler was Martin Chappell, father of Ian, Trevor and Greg.

This is former Australian leggie Arthur Mailey writing about the first runout in the tour game and actually calling Mankad overly generous for not running Brown the first time.

Oh, and if you need more, a couple of years later, when Charlie Griffith - the West Indian quick who loved a mankad - did it, the Australian press were yet again on his side.

This one is even more interesting, as it's from Brown's local paper. And it not only doesn't blame Mankad, it justifies why he did it with words from the man himself. Essentially Mankad explains that Brown leaving the crease early was getting in his eye line and causing him a distraction.

Not every former player agreed; Jack Fingleton and KS Duleepsinhji weren't happy. But there were plenty of people on Mankad's side, including Bill O'Reilly, who had no problem with a bowler stopping what he called stolen singles. Years later, Don Bradman also came out on Mankad's side.

And most importantly, Bill Brown supported him. When he showed disgust at being run out, it was at himself for continually making the same mistake.

Remember, Vinoo Mankad wasn't some chump who needed to do this to get the mighty Australians out. Bill O'Reilly was the best spinner ever at that point, and he thought very highly of Mankad. He wrote an entire article comparing him to Bert Ironmonger and Hedley Verity, the two greatest pre-war left-arm finger spinners.

When he retired, he had the seventh most wickets. And he managed that with an average of 32. He was not great away from home, but because of his incredibly low econ (2.12), he was a perfect defensive option even when not taking wickets. When you think about it, he was like a better version of Harbhajan Singh. He ended up high on the total wickets list but didn't always travel well.

But the big difference is that he could bat in multiple positions. And well. So imagine Harbhajan with Ashwin's batting and Irfan Pathan's flexibility in the order. It's quite a combo.

It is worth noting that India were not a very good team back then. And that Mankad was far more important than someone like Harbhajan because of that. Only 44 bowlers had ever taken a wicket for India when he retired. He had a huge percentage of their entire wickets in Tests. These numbers are bonkers.

You look at his bowling average and batting average both around the low 30s, and you don't see greatness. But this was a player who no one in Tests could score off, who could make 200 runs opening the batting and took 8/55 against England on day one of a Test. He was a beast of a player.

And maybe that was part of the reason his Mankad meant more because he was not only first but also a well-reputed player.

But looking at the history of Mankads from a distance, you can see patterns forming. It was probably seen as less of a big deal back in the 1800s, as cricket was more of a Wild West.

Then things start to change, and the sport becomes more pious, and the spirit of cricket starts to change how people think of this legal mode of dismissal.

Around World War 2, it comes back into vogue again, which is weird because that is really when the piousness of cricket finds its peak. And then from 1975 until 2012, there was not another first-class occurrence until Murali Kartik goes on his end-of-career spree.

1975 also had our first ODI Mankad, where the son of Martin Chappell, Greg, did something barely mentioned for the man who also asked his brother to roll the ball along the ground. We would expect that ODI cricket with more stolen singles to have more of them, but it doesn't.

One of the most famous non-Mankads is in the 1987 World Cup when West Indies needed one wicket to make the semi-final, and Courtney Walsh refused to run out Saleem Jaffar. Pakistan won that game. And that incident does appear to be in the heart of the period where they fall out of fashion.

In professional cricket from 1979 until 1992, they completely dry up. And even though we are getting them again now, really from the mid-70s until now, we haven't had many considering how much more cricket is being played.

But over the last few years, we have started seeing under 19 mankads. And it does feel like the old thinking of warnings and the batter being accidentally out of their crease is no longer popular with the youth. Now it's bowlers penalising batters for making mistakes. Which is probably how Thomas Barker saw it.

And I wonder what the old posh dude would have thought about a Cameroonian woman named Maeva Douma, who did it four times in one match. There are so many wonderful things in that. When Barker played, the idea of a female seamer was silly enough, and if somehow a Maeva Douma did exist, there is no way she would have felt comfortable enough to pull this off once. And now she can do it four times.

That doesn't mean that the debate is over. Many people will still not see it the Ashwin way. That he, as a bowler, is being penalised because cricket has deemed that kind of cheating to be ok for batters but not for bowlers.

Jos Buttler is a serial offender of running before the ball is bowled and also the second professional batter I can find who has ever been dismissed by it twice. The first ofcourse is Bill Brown. Funny how it's two players who were famous for running fast. This is not a coincidence.

Although if you follow Peter Della Penna, you will know how many batters are mankadidates and not penalised.

It is also true - as we have seen with Charlie Dean's run out and Jonny Bairstow's stumping - that inside England, there are still more feelings towards the spirit of the game. Even if no one can agree on what it is. Being that mankads have occurred for 183 years now, and all that time, English people have written the laws, you'd have thought they would have fixed it.

Oh, and they have. As cricket evolves, so will the laws, so none are perfect. But the MCC had ensured that this stays as a runout, as it should be. Essentially for talk of warnings and five-run penalties, cricket runs on a simple system; if you are out of your crease, the penalty is you can be dismissed.

If you do not wish to be run out, do not leave your crease. Intentionally or otherwise. The crease is a white line; it does not care if you are taking an advantage or just made a mistake. And neither should anyone else.

But the debate isn't just over the dismissal, but also the term.

Remember, at the start, I said the term didn't catch on straight away. That is with the public, but inside the game, especially in Australia, it did.

What happened to Mankad's name is something special within the game. It wasn't a press thing like Bazball, nor was it an MCC thing like run out at the non-striker's end. It comes from cricketers using it. It wasn't until the late 1970s, almost 30 years after the original incident, that the term mankad was used publicly and worldwide.

There is no other phrase that can accurately sum up that run out. It does it in the most elegant way possible while paying homage to the man who first did it in Tests.

But many people, including Sunil Gavaskar, have suggested a new term. Though Gavaskar's use of Browned is not going to work.

Vinoo Mankad's son Rahul also clearly did not want the term to stick around. But both of these men come at this because they adored Vinoo Mankad and don't want his name turned into something negative.

Very few things in our game are named after people. We call the legspinner's delivery a wrong'un or googly, not the bosie after its creator.

The Dilscoop and Marillier are no longer names for types of shots, even if both those players still get credit. The scoop and ramp have stayed, but their names have faded. Sure, historians will mention them one day, but it's not the same.

And to make things more confusing regarding the family of Vinoo Mankad, some actually want the term used. They are proud that their family's name is a part of cricket.

And like the Mankad family, many in cricket are split on the act and the word. The idea that we all see it as negative is not true now, and if you look at those old reports, it never was.

And if we take that word out of our vocabulary, how will the incredible career of Vinoo Mankad get an airing? He just becomes another old cricketer who didn't average 50 or win an IPL title at a certain point.

How did he attain his fame? It was not just by two acts, but because he was memorable in other ways. He did that by being an incredible cricketer good enough to open the bowling or batting for his country. And what an all-rounder he was, he could beat teams with bat, ball or run.

Vinoo Mankad began as a proper noun. He became a noun. And a verb. But the man was clearly a legend first. And every time a batter is punished for leaving their crease early, I love that he gets the credit.

Vinoo Mankad has 162 Test wickets that he took from bowling, but he also has dismissals in the IPL, Under 19 World Cup, and he took a four-wicket haul against the Ugandan Women for Cameroon.

It takes a special bowler to keep taking wickets from beyond the grave.