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Backtracking and Mankading -- three cricket fielding controversies

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Paris (AFP)

Fielding in cricket has been thrown into the limelight in the last two days after Ricky Ponting criticised Alex Hales for backtracking out of the 30-yard circle in a T20 game, while Afghanistan Under-19s claimed a wicket via a 'Mankad' at the World Cup.

Here, AFP Sport takes a look at the incidents in question:

Hales defends fielding tactics

England batsman Alex Hales defended his right to move out of the inner circle after the ball is bowled, despite being slammed by former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting for moving out of his position during a Big Bash League game on Thursday.

Hales, who was one of the maximum four fielders inside the circle when the ball was delivered, saw Simon Milenko's miscue fall short of him as he stood outside the 30-yard ring.

But Ponting claimed that Hales was "actually cheating" despite the player not breaking any rules.

"Anyone of us who have played the game, we know we're not allowed to walk back in the field," Ponting said while doing television commentary.

"It's not against the rules but it's against the spirit of the game."

Hales hit back, posting on Twitter: "Interesting that walking in with the bowler to cut off a single is absolutely fine, but walking back on to the ring when they're teeing off is cheating?

"Never heard anyone talk about that in regards to the 'spirit of the game' in my entire career."

Zampa pulls off 'backtracking'

Leg-spinner Adam Zampa used the 'backtracking' technique to far better effect than Hales on Friday as he dismissed Moises Henriques in the BBL Finals with a catch taken outside the ring.

Sydney Sixers captain Henriques appeared puzzled, but was sent on his way after a third umpire review showed Zampa was inside the circle when the ball was delivered.

Zampa's Melbourne Stars captain Glenn Maxwell agreed with the decision.

"They couldn't find enough video evidence, I think, to overrule it. But I think it's smart fielding," he said on the player mic.

Ponting himself seemed to backtrack on commentary, saying: "As long as you're moving after the ball is released, then it's fine."

'Mankad' gripes resurface

Dismissing a batsman by 'Mankading' -- when a bowler runs out a batter who is backing up too far -- has long been considered against the spirit of the game, especially if a prior warning has not been given.

But, just as in the 2016 Under-19 World Cup when the West Indies took a wicket in that manner, the spotlight fell on the youth tournament again as Afghanistan's Noor Ahmad ran out Pakistan's Mohammad Huraira in the quarter-final at Benoni in South Africa.

Afghan captain Farhan Zakhil admitted after his side's eventual six-wicket defeat that they may not have resorted to the tactic if they had been in a better position.

"At that time, we realised let's do something different to build pressure on Pakistan," Zakhil told espncricinfo.com. "To be honest, it was not in the spirit of the game."

But Huraira, who made 64, conceded that he was to blame for leaving his crease.

"I should've been in the crease, and I'll learn from the mistake. I'll ensure it isn't repeated again."

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