If a batsman at the non-striker's end is leaving the crease before the bowler has released the ball, he is not following the spirit of the game and should not seek empathy if he is run out, reckons ICC match referee and former India pacer Javagal Srinath.
India offspinner R Ashwin courted controversy when he ran out Jos Buttler during last year's IPL as the England batsman backed up too far. The act triggered the age-old debate on the bowler's conduct in such dismissals.
Srinath does not feel that the bowler is wrong if he runs out a batsman in this fashion.
"The bowler is focusing on the batsman. For the batsman (at the non-striker's end) to stick to his crease till the ball is released is no big deal, because he's not batting, nor is he thinking of anything else." Srinath told Ashwin on his Youtube show 'DRS With Ash'.
Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting feels that the bowler violates the spirit of the game by this dismissal and he would not allow Ashwin to do it. Ashwin, who captained Kings XI Punjab last year, will play for Delhi Capitals in this year's IPL, scheduled to be held in UAE from September 19.
"So the batsman shouldn't leave the crease and the bowler should focus on just bowling and the batsman he's going to bowl to. If the batsman is taking undue advantage, and if he's involved in a run out, I am fine. I am perfectly okay with that," Srinath said.
India's former pace mainstay said the rules state that the onus is on the batsman to stay inside the crease till the ball has been released.
"Don't look for any empathy. Don't invoke the spirit of the game. The spirit of the game is with the runner. He cannot move out of the crease. If he is doing it, he's not invoking the spirit of the game itself. I would believe that the batsman should stick to the crease."
The former bowler said if the runner is leaving the crease he is taking undue advantage and it can have an impact on the outcome of a close game in an unfair manner.
"Even if the batsman has inadvertently left the crease, and it happens to be the last ball of the match where there's a run-out (chance) with the batsman in by an inch, but he has already taken three foot forward before the ball has been delivered, the result is unfair.
"One of the teams will probably pay for it. I would like to see a balance here."
Srinath said he would want the batsman to stay, be more careful. Look into the arm of the bowler and let himself go only after the ball is released.
"It cannot be that he's gaining four to five feet advantage every ball. In T20, every ball matters. How many games go to the last ball?" he asked.
Ashwin has backed his decision and also found support from Delhi Capitals co-owner Parth Jindal.