R Ashwin: I didn't know the ball hit Rishabh, but I'd run even if I did

R Ashwin: I didn’t know the ball hit Rishabh, but I’d run even if I did

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Capitals allrounder defends his right to take the overthrow even if he knew it had deflected off a batter’s body

R Ashwin has said he didn’t know the ball had deflected off Rishabh Pant’s body when he took the overthrow that offended the Kolkata Knight Riders fielders. Ashwin, however, defended his right to take the overthrow even if he knew it had deflected off a batter’s body. The incident in the 19th over of Delhi Capitals’ match against Knight Riders caused an on-field confrontation between Ashwin and Knight Riders’ Tim Southee and Eoin Morgan. Ashwin tweeted that Morgan called him a disgrace for taking that overthrow.

Overthrows off a batter’s body is a peculiar arrangement in cricket. These runs are perfectly legal under the laws of the game, but batters usually don’t run for these extra runs if the ball deflects off their body. Having said that, if the deflection rolls away into the boundary, the umpires have no choice but to award those extra runs, which the batters can’t decline.

In a series of tweets on Thursday, Ashwin first narrated the sequence of events and then said Southee and Morgan had no “right to take the moral high ground”.

“1. I turned to run the moment I saw the fielder throw and dint know the ball had hit Rishabh,” Ashwin tweeted. “2. Will I run if I see it!? Of course I will and I am allowed to. 3. Am I a disgrace like Morgan said I was? Of course NOT.”

Ashwin raised the larger point of different interpretations of the spirit of cricket, and that the players should not be vilified if they are not playing according to a certain section’s way of looking at it. “There are millions of cricketers with several thought processes that play this great game to make it their careers, teach them that an extra run taken due to a poor throw aimed to get you out can make your career and an extra yard stolen by the non striker can break your career,” Ashwin tweeted.

“Do not confuse them by telling them that you will be termed a good person if you refuse the run or warn the non striker, because all these people who are terming you good or bad have already made a living or they are doing what it takes to be successful elsewhere.

“Give your heart and soul on the field and play within the rules of the game and shake your hands once the game is over. The above is the only ‘spirit of the game’ I understand.”

Ashwin has previously divided opinion by running out non-strikers who leave their crease before he has let the ball go. Again, it is a dismissal that is perfectly legal under the laws of cricket – in fact, a change in the ICC playing conditions in 2011 facilitated this dismissal – but a host of cricketers criticised Ashwin for it.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo