New Delhi, March 9: Vilified multiple times for running out non-strikers backing up too far, former India spinner Murali Kartik was a happy man on Wednesday after custodian of the game's laws, the MCC, amended its code to "stop the criminalisation" of bowlers in the name of "spirit of cricket".
One of the finest left-arm spinners of his era with 644 first-class wickets, Kartik, who represented the country in eight Tests and 37 ODIs, ran as many as five batters out at the non-striker's end across formats during his playing days.
On Wednesday, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) amended the laws and stated "...running out the non-striker has been moved from Law 41 (Unfair play) to Law 38 (Run out). The wording of the Law remains the same."
This is something that Kartik, along with stars such as Ravichandran Ashwin, have been advocating for more than a decade. "There is spirit of cricket. But what I have always argued is that this is not 'Spirit of Cricket'. That people who are actually flouting it were the ones hiding behind the garb of 'Spirit of Cricket'. It was a classic case of 'Pot calling kettle black'," Kartik told PTI during a chat.
So does he feel vindicated after all these years when people accused him of taking "unfair advantage" by running out batters who backed up too far at the non-striker's end? "I would say it is a vindication of what I have felt right. It was definitely high time that we stopped criminalising the bowlers for doing it," the renowned commentator said.
"It's the batter who gains unfair advantage and you are blaming the bowler and calling him wrong? That is what my fight has been. I have always told people I would have ran all 11 out if allowed," he laughed.
Ashwin, in recent times, has had a lot of support for his opinion but if one recalls Kartik's playing days, he had little support outside his team but he never felt the need to change.
"I have done it five times. Never ever have I felt any lack of support because I have always believed if it is right and just because nobody else is believing it, does not mean that it is not right. It is as simple as that," he said.
In Kartik's case, he had a basic rule, he would warn the non-striker not once but thrice and then take the bails off. "I never felt any pressure even when it wasn't an accepted norm of dismissal because some felt that it didn't supposedly adhere to 'Spirit of Cricket' whoever it may be. Anyone whom I have ran out at non-striker's end, I have warned that batter at least three times," he said.
Terming it 'normal run-Out' is kind of enforcement
Kartik is sure that just like over-rate penalty of fielding restrictions in the T20 format is giving fantastic results, the batters will now have change in mindset when they intend to steal yards at non-striker's end even before the bowler is loading up.
"It should change the mindset of batters. I will give you a simple example. Look at T20 cricket, just recently penalty of one less fielder outside the 30 yard circle has been introduced by the ICC in case the last over of an innings doesn't start in stipulated time.
"Look at over rates, teams are finishing overs in time since there is a penalty. It's an enforcement and it's like on certain roads, it's 60 kmph and if you drive at 80 kmph, the cops will haul will you up. It was always legal but now it has to be enforced properly," he said.
For the likes of Kartik and Ashwin, who have had confidence in their convictions, a lot of bowlers haven't run batters out despite knowing that they were taking undue advantage.
"I am so happy...just because something wasn't accepted because people felt it was not right does not mean it was not right. It's been accepted now. Finally, the bowlers are being empowered in a big way...only a few people had the conviction to believe in what they were doing as most were always scared of the wrath they will incur and fury it might cause. Others have always been shy of doing it," he signed off.