Ben Stokes responds to Harsha Bhogle’s rant on Deepti Sharma controversy

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England Test captain Ben Stokes on Saturday responded to a rant by commentator Harsha Bhogle on the ongoing Mankad controversy stirred by Deepti Sharma.
Ben Stokes

Bhogle had taken to Twitter to post a series of tweets slamming English cricketers and media for their criticism of Sharma over the Mankad controversy.

Bhogle had written, “I find it very disturbing that a very large section of the media in England is asking questions of a girl who played by the laws of the game & none at all of another who was gaining an illegal advantage and was a habitual offender. That includes reasonable people & I think it is a cultural thing. The English thought it was wrong to do so & because they ruled over a large part of the cricket world, they told everyone it was wrong. The colonial domination was so powerful that few questioned it.

“As a result,the mindset still is that what England considers wrong should be considered wrong by the rest of the cricket world, much like the “line” the Aussies say you must not cross having decided what the line should be which is fine in their culture but may not be for others. The rest of the world is no longer obligated to think the way England does and so we see what is so plainly wrong. So too the notion that turning tracks are bad but seaming tracks are fine. The reason I say it is cultural is that it is what they are brought up to think. They don’t think it is wrong.”

Continuing with his tirade against English cricketers and media, Bhogle had written, “The problem arises and we are guilty of it too, when people sit in judgement (sic) of each other’s approach. England wants the rest of the world not to like running out batters at the non-striker’s end and have been vitriolic and abusive towards Deepti and others who have done it.

“We come hard too asking others to wake up from centuries old colonial slumber. The easiest thing is to play by the laws of the game & stop worrying about subjective interpretation of the spirit of the game,stop forcing opinions on others.The law says the non-striker must be behind the crease till the bowler’s arm is at its highest point. If you obey that, the game will move along smoothly. If you point fingers at others, like many in England have at Deepti, you remain open to questions asked of you.”

Also Read: Mankad controversy spirals out of control after England skipper Heather Knight calls Team India liar

However, Bhogle blaming English ‘culture’ for the criticism of Sharma which appeared to irk Ben Stokes. Bhogle wrote, “It is best if those in power, or who were in power, stop believing that the world must move at their bidding. As in society, where judges implement the law of the land, so too in cricket. But I remain disturbed by the vitriol directed towards Deepti. She played by the laws of the game and criticism of what she did must stop.”

Reacting to Bhole’s criticism, Stokes wrote, “Harsha … bringing culture into peoples opinion over a Mankad?”

He added, “Is this a culture thing?? ….absolutely not,I receive messages regarding the overthrows from people all over world,as people all over the world have made comment’s on the Mankad dismissal, not just people who are English.”

Stokes also reminded Bhogle how he had been routinely facing criticism for the overthrow in the World Cup final in 2019 against New Zealand, which helped England win the title for the first time. “Harsha .. 2019 WC final was over 2 years ago, I still till this day revive countless messages calling me all sorts from Indian fans, does this disturb you?”

Bhogle replied stating that Stokes was not at fault in the World Cup final. “Well, you were not at fault on that one so with you there. On the reaction in England to the non-striker backing up, I think it is what you are told when you learn the game and so, part of culture. Very happy to chat about it one day if you have a moment. Cheers,” he wrote.

Stokes responded by reminding the Indian commentator that Sharma faced criticism even from people outside England. What about the rest of the worlds reaction to this particular incident? England isn’t the only cricket playing nation who have spoken about the ruling,” he wrote.

Sharma’s decision to Mankad England batter Charlie Dean to secure a win for India had earned her plenty of criticism. Many felt that Sharma did not need to resort to this unsavoury method to dismiss the English batter since India had already won the series. Previously, R Ashwin, another Indian bowler, has had to face criticism for trying to dismiss batters using the Mankad method.