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A run out usually occurs when the batsmen are attempting to run between the wickets, and the fielding team succeed in getting the ball to one wicket before the batsman has made their ground at that end.
A batsman may be dismissed run out whether or not a run is being attempted, even if the delivery is a no-ball (i.e. not a fair delivery). There are a number of exceptions to this:
- A batsman is not run out if he or his bat had been grounded behind the popping crease, but he subsequently leaves it to avoid injury, when the wicket is put down.
- A batsman is not run out if the ball has not been touched by a fielder, after the bowler has delivered the ball, before the wicket is put down. (This means that the non-striker is not out if a ball hit by the striker puts down the non-striker's wicket, provided the ball did not touch any member of the fielding side before doing so.)
- A batsman is not given out run out if he can be given out Stumped.
The batsman can be judged run out when he is closest to the end where the wicket has been put down by the opposition. The runs completed before a Run out are still scored by the batsman and his team. The bowler does not get credit for the wicket.
In Tests, run out is the fourth most common dismissal method, behind caught, bowled and lbw, accounting for 1 in 29 dismissals. In One Day Internationals and T20Is, when more risks are taken with running (and fewer defensive shots played), it is the third most common, moving ahead of lbw and accounting for 1 in 8 dismissals.
Run out with runners
If a batsman has a runner owing to injury/illness, there is the danger of being run out owing to confusion between the three (or four in very rare circumstances) batsmen/runners on the field, all of whom must be safe in their crease when the wicket is broken and also at the correct end of the wicket. For example, a batsman with a runner should always be behind the crease at the striker's end when in strike and whilst the ball is live. If he leaves his crease a fielder is allowed to break the stumps at the striker's end to run him out – even if he is safely behind the crease at the bowler's end.
Run out not attempting a run
As stated above, if he is out of his crease and the wicket is put down by a fielder, a batsman can be run out even when not attempting a run. There is a trickle of such dismissals even in Test Cricket.
The case has most often occurred when the ball hits the bat or pad, and therefore goes to a close fielder rather than the wicket keeper (direct action by the keeper would make the batsman liable to be out stumped instead), and the striker has left his ground to play the ball, or over-balances afterwards, and may for a moment not even realise the fielder has the ball. The fielder may throw down or otherwise break the wicket, or the keeper may receive the throw and put the wicket down.
Some examples are notable for the sharp reactions of the close fielder, whilst some involve lack of due attention by the batsman, and approach the humorous. In a Test in Cape Town in 1995, captured on television and widely shared on social media, Shane Thomson of New Zealand played forward and posed elegantly, but just outside his crease. After a long pause, South African captain Hansie Cronje walked in from short cover, picked up the ball and broke the stumps with an underarm throw. Cronje seemed unsure whether this was within the spirit of the game (the fielding side could have chosen not to appeal, in which case the batsman is never out), but was easily reassured by all concerned.
Run out when the batsmen considers the ball dead
One issue that occurs more often in lesser, junior and indoor cricket is that, in a quiet moment after a ball has been played, the batsman may intentionally leave his crease not attempting a run, for example to talk to the non-striker or to pat the pitch. He can do this because of the customary understanding with the fielding team that the ball is considered dead at that time. If that understanding breaks down a fielder might put down the wicket. As ever, the fielding team must appeal for any dismissal to occur, and the fielding captain will withdraw the appeal if he views it to be unwarranted by the spirit of the game, which will depend on judgement of custom, practice and circumstance. But if an appeal is made, the umpire must give the batsman out unless he considers that a dead ball pertained.
Such a clash of custom, or act of pure gamesmanship, occurred in the most notable Test match of all,[peacock prose] England vs Australia, Oval 1882, and was carried out by W.G. Grace, who contrived to run out Sammy Jones thus, supposedly riling the Australian bowler Fred Spofforth to achieve the bowling performance that won the match and caused the mock cremation that became the Ashes.
Running out a batsman "backing up"
As a bowler enters his delivery stride, the non-striking batsman usually 'backs up'. This means he leaves his popping crease and walks towards the other end of the wicket so that it will take him less time to reach the other end if he and his batting partner choose to attempt a run.
Sometimes a batsman, whilst backing up, leaves the popping crease before the bowler has actually delivered the ball. Where this has happened, the bowler may attempt to run the non-striking batsman out in accordance with the Laws of Cricket. If he fails, and the batsman has remained within the crease, the delivery is called a dead ball.
Some observers feel that dismissing a batsman in this way is against the spirit of the game, but others believe that the Laws and regulations exist to be used and that, as the run out backing up is expressly within the professional regulations, it is legitimate and sporting to exercise the provision, with some drawing analogies to baseball's pickoff.
According to the former convention, a generous bowler may warn a batsman to stay in his crease rather than to take his wicket, but this is not required by the Laws of Cricket nor the MCC guidance notes on the Spirit of Cricket. When the run out has happened in first-class cricket, it has on occasion provoked debate. Such dismissals have always occurred and continue to divide opinion.
One of the earliest recorded examples of running out a batsman "backing up" came in a match between Eton and Harrow in 1850, when Harrow's Charles Austen-Leigh was run out "backing up" by Eton bowler William Prest.
The most famous example of this method of dismissal involved the Indian bowler Vinoo Mankad. It occurred during India's tour of Australia on 13 December 1947 in the second Test at Sydney. Mankad ran out Bill Brown when, in the act of delivering the ball, he held on to it and removed the bails with Brown well out of his crease. This was the second time Mankad had dismissed Brown in this fashion on the tour, having already done it in an earlier match against an Australian XI. On that occasion he had warned Brown once before running him out. The Australian press accused Mankad of being unsportsmanlike, although some Australians, including Don Bradman, the Australian captain at the time, defended Mankad's actions. Since this incident, a batsman dismissed in this fashion is (informally) said to have been "Mankaded".
Modern interpretations of run out of non-striker
In all matches played under the Laws of Cricket with no augmented playing conditions, the bowler may, after he has started his run up, but before he would normally have been expected to release the ball, attempt to run out a non-striker who has strayed outside his crease, with no warning mentioned. If the fielding side appeal the umpire will give the batsman out run out Under Law 41.16. The previous Laws were more restrictive as to when a bowler could attempt this, but they still allowed an attempt up until a bowler entered his delivery stride, which differed from the international game.
The 2011 ICC Playing Conditions for Test matches, One Day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals had relaxed the rules on Mankading making it more likely in the International game and other forms of professional cricket including the Indian Premier League (IPL).
According to the various professional playing conditions, 42.11, "The bowler is permitted, before releasing the ball and provided he has not completed his usual delivery swing, to attempt to run out the non-striker." The umpires shall deem the bowler to have completed his delivery swing once his bowling arm passes the normal point of ball release.
In July 2014, England's Jos Buttler was run out by Sri Lanka's Sachithra Senanayake. The World Cricket Council, an independent consultative body of former international captains and umpires, unanimously expressed support of Sri Lanka's actions and a lack of sympathy with the batsman. In March 2019, Buttler was dismissed in the same way by Ravichandran Ashwin in the 2019 Indian Premier League. Following the incident, the MCC said that this particular 'Mankading' was not in the "spirit of the game".
The Spirit of Cricket, which is a preamble to the Laws, lists a series of behaviours considered by the cricket community to be unsporting or contrary to the spirit of the game, but dismissing the backing-up non-striker is not mentioned.
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