Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor—
THE global cricket family exploded with outrage yesterday — amid calls for West Indies to be thrown out of the ICC Cricket Under-19 World Cup — after a controversial two-run victory over Zimbabwe was roundly criticised as an insult to the spirit of sportsmanship. Television commentators, Dominic Cork (England), and Mphumelelo Mbangwa, were highly critical of the way the West Indies, who scored 224-9, pocketed their win.
Even British journalists and newspapers, known for their hostility towards Zimbabwe cricket, batted in the corner of coach Steve Mangongo and his teenage cricketers with former CNN anchor, Piers Morgan, who is now the United States Editor-at-large for Mail Online, calling for the Windies to be expelled from the World Cup.
The talking point came in the final over of a tight match, a winner-take-all contest in Chittagong, Bangladesh, with a World Cup quarter-final place on the line, when West Indies seamer Keemo Paul whipped off the bails to mankad Zimbabwe’s Richard Ngarava.
The word “Mankad”, which is used to describe the act of a bowler who runs out a batsman, on the non-striker’s end, instead of delivering the ball to the other end as is tradition, followed an incident during India’s tour of Australia on December 13, 1947, during the second Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
India’s Vinoo Mankad ran out Bill Brown when, in the act of delivering the ball, he held on to it and removed the bails with the Aussie batsman well out of his crease.
However, what was remarkable about yesterday’s incident is that Paul never went into his delivery motion, suggesting that he was only intent on running out Ngarava, who was caught just a few millimetres out of his crease as the West Indies appealed for a run out that would give them victory.
At that stage the Zimbabweans needed just three runs, to win the match and secure a place in the quarter-finals, in what would have been the highest successful run chase at this tournament.
The umpires referred the appeal to the television umpire who ruled that Ngarava was out of his crease and, as the West Indies exploded in celebrations, the debate was just beginning around the world given the controversial manner of their victory.
While the rules of the game say that Paul was right to effect the run out, commentators were united that his action was an insult to the spirit of the game, especially at Under-19 level, where there should be more emphasis on respecting what this game represents.
That Paul didn’t even warn Ngarava, that he was striding off his crease, was picked out by some commentators as proof that the Windies wanted to win this game using unorthodox means.
“A mankad should only be allowed if an official warning was issued, what a poor end to an entertaining tussle,” Mike Haysman, the SuperSport commentator and anchor, tweeted as Twitter exploded with rage in the wake of the incident.
Zimbabwe’s cricketers will, once again, feel that the world is always against them when it comes to the World Cup especially after West Indies batsman, Chris Gayle, was given a life by the umpires, when television replays clearly showed that he should have gone, without scoring, after being trapped lbw during the 2015 Cricket World Cup in Australia.
Gayle went on to score a double century in the match.
Yesterday, the Zimbabwe Under-19 captain, Brandon Mavuta, was so disappointed that he refused to comment while his West Indian counterpart, Shimron Hetmyer, said he was comfortable with the decision because he has seen such things happen in the game before. “I would say yes, cricket is a game of uncertainties. We’ve seen it happen in cricket before. It’s not a big deal for us,” Hetmyer said.
But former Zimbabwe skipper, Brendan Taylor, said the Under-19s loss was a disgrace. “Disgraceful! Just remember this great game has a funny way in biting you in the back side,” he said on Twitter. England ODI captain, Eoin Morgan, concurred with Taylor.
“Disgraceful behaviour in the U19CWC. WI’s (West Indies) should be embarrassed!!” he said, while his teammate, Jos Buttler, said he could not believe what he had just seen.
“Can’t believe what I’ve just seen! Embarrassing!” Buttler said on Twitter with Australia coach Darren Lehmann adding “Unbelievable. Not Out!”
New Zealand legend, Stephen Fleming, also weighed into the debate saying that this was a disgrace.
“This is not a good look. Absolutely disgraceful behaviour,” Fleming tweeted, while former Australian cricketer Tom Moody, who had a stint as the international chief of professional cricketers, said he was “saddened to see that winning comes down to this!”
“I have debriefed the boys in the dressing room and they were all crying,” said Stephen Mangongo, the Zimbabwe coach.
“We have explained that technically the run-out is legal. We left it to the last man and we should not have done that. It was a hard lesson and they have learnt it the hard way.”
Former South African cricketer, Alviro Petersen, added his voice saying “I can’t support what just happened in the #U19CWC @ICC perhaps a decision taken without thought . . . #sportsmanship,” while England fast bowler, James Anderson, said it was “disgraceful.”
South African journalist, Ken Borland, was also critical of the incident. “Wow! Just seen the replay from U19WC. West Indies cricket truly sinks to a disgusting new low. Dreadful unsportsmaship, no attempt to steal a run.” British journalist, Morgan, who used to present the Piers Morgan Live programme on CNN, said the ICC should expel the West Indies from the World Cup.
“The more I study this photo, the worse it gets,” he said on Twitter. “I’d throw West Indies Under-19s out of the World Cup. “Disgraceful piece of mankad cheating by West Indies Under-19, shame on them all,” while British newspapers, who are usually hostile to Zimbabwe cricket, were very critical of the West Indies and how they won the game yesterday.
West Indies coach Graeme West felt sorry for the Zimbabweans. “I can imagine what they must be going through now. I feel sorry for them because they got themselves into winning positions and then we pulled it back. I share their disappointment.” And the fans also felt betrayed.
“Watching the footage over and over, I feel that cricket is the loser. It doesn’t really matter about all this ‘it’s in the rules’ rubbish, can you watch this and say ‘what a fantastic thing to do’?” posted a fan whose identity was Knibby66.
“If any West Indian supporter, any Cricket supporter, can watch this happening in a U-19 game and vindicate this, then I genuinely fear for the game’s future. So very, very sad . . .”