COIMBATORE: There were 15,187 at the Lord’s watching the third ODI on Sunday. England needed 17 runs to win with one wicket in hand. As she saw Charlie Dean leaving the crease early, Deepti Sharma stopped her action midway, took off the bails, and appealed. There was as much celebration as there was booing from the home crowd as she shrugged off and looked at her captain.
Harmanpreet Kaur went on with the appeal, and 21-year-old Dean was in tears as she was given out on the big screen. While the host broadcasters went on to discuss the dismissal at length, India celebrated their 3-0 win, carrying Jhulan on their shoulders. After all, the entire series was a celebration of Jhulan for them. When asked about the dismissal, Harmanpreet said that Deepti did everything by the ICC rules and that she will back her players.
First things first, there is no question about the legitimacy of the dismissal. It is a run-out as per the ICC and MCC laws. That said, with not many English cricketers being a fan of the dismissal, social media went haywire arguing about the ‘spirit of cricket’. If one were to make an argument, it has to be about the ambiguous nature of the law. It states that if a batter is out of the crease when the bowler is expected to release the ball, they are liable to be run out. The expected release of the ball is something that is always up to the interpretation of the umpires. In Deepti’s case, the umpires decided that it was out. And, that is all that matters on the field.
It is no surprise that Deepti was the one to effect such a dismissal, knowing the kind of debate it could cause. For she often goes through her action without bowling the delivery, trying to understand what the batter is anticipating. There have been occasions where she saw the non-striker backing up and stopped bowling. On Sunday, she did not hesitate to take off the bails.
In fact, it is not just her. Since the ICC amended the rules to make it a run out from unfair play in March 2022, it’s becoming a conscious tactical ploy from several teams. During the senior women’s T20 in April, some of the state sides had done the research to prepare the list of batters who generally leave the crease early as their potential run out candidates. And did not shy away from attempting it. In fact, India vice-captain Smriti Mandhana was run out in that fashion against Rajasthan.
Which is why, one should not be taken by surprise should we see more such runs outs in domestic and international cricket. After all, as Harmanpreet said in the end, “it's within the ICC rules, it's part of the game, and end of the day, a win is a win.”