London: Former India spinner Murali Kartik caused controversy in the English County Championship on Thursday when he ran out a batsman who had backed up too far down the pitch.
Kartik, playing for Surrey against Somerset -- the county he left at the end of last season -- ran out 20-year-old Alex Barrow when the non-striker was out of his ground.
Surrey captain Gareth Batty was offered the chance to call the batsman back by umpire Peter Hartley but refused, leaving the official with no choice but to uphold the appeal and send the batsman on his way on the third day of this four-day First Division clash at Taunton, Somerset's headquarters.
Although a legitimate form of dismissal, running out a batsman backing up is widely considered to be against the spirit of cricket and is rarely seen in first-class matches.
Kartik, though, warned Barrow earlier in the over that he was backing up too far -- something he no longer needed to do, following a rewrite of the relevant section of cricket's rules last year.
Both the bowler and Batty were jeered by spectators and angry fans of both clubs made their feelings known to the Surrey duo during the tea interval.
Kartik, however, told his Twitter followers after stumps: "Everyone get a life please... if a batsman is out on a stroll, in spite of being warned, does that count as being in the spirit of the game?"
Somerset made 294 in reply to Surrey's 317 and by stumps the visitors were 58 without loss in their second innings, heading into what is sure to be a fiery final day.
"People obviously think the spirit of the game has been brought into disrepute -- that was not my intention and I thoroughly apologise for that," Batty said.
Somerset captain Marcus Trescothick, the former England opening batsman, said he had been saddened by the manner of Barrow's dismissal.
"I'm very disappointed. It's not something you want to see in cricket," he said.
"I have never witnessed anything like it before at any level. Theoretically, Alex was out, as we all know, but it was against the spirit of the game."
In February this year, India captain Virender Sehwag withdrew an appeal after the spinner Ravi Ashwin ran out Sri Lanka's Lahiru Thirimanne during a one-day international.
Such dismissals have been regarded as unsporting ever since India's Vinoo Mankad ran out Australia's Bill Brown at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1947 after Brown backed up too far at the bowler's end.
But even in Australia, attitudes towards 'Mankadding' are now changing, with former international Simon O'Donnell saying after the Thirimanne incident: "Where does this spirit of cricket issue come from when what we are talking about is a batsman breaking the rules?
"If a bowler puts his foot just over the line he is called for a no-ball, so how is this any different?"