Australia v South Africa, 1st Test, Brisbane, 5th day

No-balls or no calls?

Bowlers might find it frustrating when umpires check for a no-ball after a batsman is dismissed, but they have nobody to blame but themselves

Brydon Coverdale in Brisbane

November 13, 2012

Comments: 67 | Text size: A | A

James Pattinson bowls Hashim Amla with a no-ball, Australia v South Africa, first Test, day five, Brisbane, November 13, 2012
Hashim Amla had a life when he dragged one from James Pattinson onto his stumps. It was not an isolated incident in this Test © Getty Images

On the first morning of this Test, Australia's bowlers were out in the middle of the Gabba with a measuring tape and a can of spray paint. It has become a ritual of the modern-day bowler, calculating to the centimetre the distance they require from the crease to the top of their run-up, and marking the spot with a graffito of their initials and a line. It is a precise operation. It is also becoming a futile one.

When James Pattinson steamed in on the final day and bowled Hashim Amla, the Australians were jubilant. Briefly. The umpire, Asad Rauf, told Amla not to walk off the ground just yet. He suspected Pattinson had over-stepped the crease and asked the third official to check the replays. Rauf's instinct was right. Pattinson had delivered a no-ball and Amla was reprieved. It was the third such incident in this match.

On the first day, Peter Siddle had Jacques Kallis caught at mid-off. Again it was Rauf who wanted the replay checked, and again the bowler had over-stepped. And on day three Morne Morkel, a serial no-baller, thought he had Ed Cowan caught behind and the South Africans asked for a review of Rauf's not-out decision. The first footage to be viewed by Richard Kettleborough was the side-on angle, and he deemed that Morkel had not bowled a legal delivery.

Three dismissals disallowed by no-balls, in addition to another that was called on the spot, which Michael Clarke appeared to edge behind off Morkel. When run-ups are measured so precisely, how can that be? Geoff Lawson, the former fast bowler and coach, argues that the run-up length can only ever be a rough guide because when a bowler is running in, the length of his steps will vary based on a number of factors. Is there a head-wind or a tail-wind? Is the outfield soft or hard? Is he running marginally uphill or downhill? And when he bowled Amla, Pattinson was in such a fired-up mood that he might have been running in faster than usual, lengthening his strides.

Reprieving a batsman on a late no-ball call is vastly preferable to wrongly calling one and having a batsman dismissed. The bowling team would feel aggrieved, and rightly so. But nor would it be fair to give the batsman out retrospectively

Still, some bowlers find a way around no-balls. It is often claimed that Michael Holding sent down only two in his Test career. Ben Hilfenhaus bowled one in the first Test in the West Indies in April, but hasn't been called in the three Tests since then. Is their secret to measure a run-up and then start from yet another step back? Who knows. But it was notable that when the Australians asked for a review of a Hilfenhaus caught-behind appeal, his front foot was so far back in legal territory that his toes weren't even touching the crease.

Others, like Morkel, get it wrong on a frustratingly regular basis. When Morkel made his first-class debut at the age of 19, he sent down 17 no-balls in a five-over spell. The habit has stayed with him. On the last day of the Lord's Test in August, Morkel had Matt Prior caught in the deep off a no-ball. Siddle also has prior form. At the MCG last year, he bowled Rahul Dravid and the umpire, Marais Erasmus, asked for the no-ball to be checked. Siddle had overstepped.

It could be argued that the standing umpires should be more inclined to call bowlers on the spot, rather than waiting for a wicket to fall. Who knows how many no-balls are missed during regular play because the umpire hasn't felt sure? Certainly in Pattinson's case, Rauf could have made the call himself, for Pattinson was over the crease by a considerable distance. But the Siddle and Morkel margins were minimal.

The umpires still called 33 no-balls for the match and had assistance for less than a handful of those. If in doubt, umpires must err on the side of caution. Reprieving a batsman on a late no-ball call is vastly preferable to wrongly calling one and having a batsman dismissed. The bowling team would feel aggrieved, and rightly so. But nor would it be fair to give the batsman out retrospectively.

Who can say if a batsman would have played the same shot had he not heard the umpire call no-ball? Against a genuinely fast bowler, batsmen don't have time to adjust to hearing an umpire's call, but they do against spinners. And what of medium-pacers? Or a fast man's slower ball?

There must be one blanket rule and the current system is the best option. It is certainly preferable to a batsman being sent on his way, only for TV viewers to later see he was dismissed off a no-ball. Whether the review process adds to or detracts from the spectacle of the game is a matter of opinion. Whether bowlers are overstepping, generally, is not. Perhaps some should look to Holding and Hilfenhaus for inspiration.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (November 14, 2012, 16:39 GMT)

I find it hard to believe we can send men to space and receive data from robots on Mars, but the ICC can't utilise simple, cheap laser/camera-based systems to monitor lines etc. for this type of thing...

Posted by Bonehead_maz on (November 14, 2012, 13:18 GMT)

In this match protea's picked before toss 5 seamers then won toss and batted ? Clearly defensive ! Doubly defensive !!

They then proceeded to bat slowly all day. Accepting 3 runs or less per over when going past 2/200. Clearly defensive.

Any talk of Pitch or injuries which only came into effect after having already shown no intent don't matter much. The lack of intent continued through the match.

On the contrary, Aus played with intent from 2nd new ball onward. From that point they never let up even slightly, even when losing wickets by not letting up.

It's 0-0 good game. I hope they try to win in Adelaide rather than expecting us to lose.

Posted by peeeeet on (November 14, 2012, 11:22 GMT)

How about every time a bowler bowls a no-ball he gets fined 50% of his match fee and suspended for 1 match? Or if a no-ball is bowled, the batting team gets to re-introduce another batsman in the line-up? Or the team could lose one of their reviews. Or each no-ball costs 10 runs and every ball for the rest of the over is a free hit! Bottom line is, I get so frustrated watching bowlers deliver no-balls because it seems unnecessary to bowl one. There is so much space to land your foot safely, why push it right up there where you can get penalised for mistakes!

Posted by JohnnyRook on (November 14, 2012, 8:11 GMT)

I think cricket should have an electronic foot fault kind of system. That will be a lot better use of technology than DRS and a lot cheaper too. This will ensure all no balls are caught properly including side crease ones. It will also aid umpire's decision making since he will only have to focus on the batsman instead of changing his focus from the bowling crease to the batsman in a split second.

Posted by Bishop on (November 14, 2012, 5:51 GMT)

Return to a back foot no-ball rule. Not only is it easier for the onfield umpire to adjudicate (meaning fewer decisions will have to go to video) but it should be easier for bowlers to stay behind the line because the stumps provide a more prominent visual indicator of where the line is.

Posted by Hafeez_Malik on (November 14, 2012, 5:51 GMT)

Looking down to check no-balls and then suddenly up to check LBW or snick for 150k balls is a realy tough ask. Leave all the no balls to third upires by providing them a monitor which shows only picture result of crease line cameras.

Posted by azzaman333 on (November 14, 2012, 5:27 GMT)

There's a very simple solution that requires no changes from umpires or administrators. Bowlers stop bowling no balls. There's no reason why a bowler shouldn't be able to keep his foot behind the line.

Posted by Andross on (November 14, 2012, 4:57 GMT)

The easiest way to implement Meety's idea would be to have three rows of pressure sensors embedded; directly behind the crease, directly under the back of the crease, and directly under the front of the crease. If the sensor behind the crease is not depressed within a second before either of the others, it is an illegal delivery, and a beeper located behind the stumps at the bowler's end would sound. If the bowler oversteps by more than what the sensor could pick up, then the umpire should be able to clearly see it. Those types of sensors are already used to count traffic movements; you will be familiar with driving over the two black cables attached to a small box.

Posted by Insult_2_Injury on (November 14, 2012, 4:54 GMT)

Re: Anthony Purcell comment. You're right, the system now provides the 'correct' result; batsman shown to be out - he's out. Consequently there should be no more comparison of any players statistics between the eras of referal and pre-referal. You can't compare batting innings and bowlers stats which were determined by human frailty with those of a clinical photo. The world will be a better place for sure!

Posted by Andross on (November 14, 2012, 4:36 GMT)

I'm mainly commenting here because I hate the use of clean bowled as was used by Gilly4ever when it's played on; clean bowled is when the ball touches neither the bat or pad before hitting the stumps! hence "Clean"! But while I'm here, the main deal is that bowlers will have to slowly reeducate themselves to land a lot further back, it will take time as as many have already pointed out, the bowler gets used to the feel of their run up, but they're gunn have to do it, or else the wickets off no balls will continue to happen. It's also crucial that younger players who haven't formed habits yet are taught to bowl further back for the next generation. In either case, the "leeway" proposed by Mark Taylor and Ian Chapple is never going to work, because, you simply move the point at which the no ball is called further back, and then have the issue of mm again, and have to add more leeway--eventually you end up bowling from the batsman's toes.

Posted by   on (November 14, 2012, 4:29 GMT)

We've had Test matches decided by a run, not to mention ties. Perhaps that run was a missed no-ball. If they check for wickets, they should check for every ball, or leave it to the field umpire. The game is too much in the batsman's favour as it is, what with the bats they use, the protection they have, the pitches they bat on. No. Either change the no-ball rule completely or leave the field umpire to make the decision.

The front foot law was bought in because fast bowlers were dragging prodigeous distances and their front foot landed a yard over the popping crease. It wasn't designed to be judged in millimetre's, only obvious no-balls. The law could be changed to read the foot has to be touching the line. But I still think that whatever the law is, it remains and on field decision.

Posted by   on (November 14, 2012, 4:15 GMT)

Have been only a club level pace bowler and fortunately, haven't really bowled too many no-balls. Of course the reason was that when I started out, all that effort going into a ball and total lose-lose bargain absolutely peeved me. Had to learn those lessons. There are two very simple facts I learned: (a) Suggestion to start a step behind your marked run-up spot is utter tosh! One extra step of distance that the ball has to cover when you're bowling at full pelt could totally throw off your length and the amount of swing, especially if you're running downhill - unless you are Mike Procter! (b) Make a blind run! Close your eyes, and run downhill at full pelt, take as many number of steps you want and release the ball only when your body 'screams' out that it's the best time to release. You never get that feeling with eyes open and defined targets. Mark the distance .. and end of the run up should be just about 1/4th of your shoe ahead of popping crease. No more over-stepping!

Posted by disco_bob on (November 14, 2012, 4:03 GMT)

@Gizza, the scenario you paint would not occur because it would be a given that in the spirit of the game a no ball could not be seen to be deliberate, therefore one could not purposely come down any more than 6" - 8" which would give no advantage at all, plus the bowler would lose 4 each time.

I think my suggestion is still sound. If a bowler was being penalised 4 for a no ball on the condition that if a wicket was taken it was allowed, would see most bowlers bowling well within the crease. I realise that it's a bit of an 'out there' suggestion but if you think about it there is merit to it.

Posted by   on (November 14, 2012, 2:43 GMT)

If you leave the call with the on-field umpires then inevitably one of two things will happen: a batsmen will be dismissed off what was called a no-ball but turns out to be a legitimate delivery and the fielding side will be rightly apoplectic. Or the converse will occur and the batting side will be up in arms with equal justification. The system in place provides the right result, batsmen who aren't out get to bat on. Full stop.

Posted by Insult_2_Injury on (November 14, 2012, 2:26 GMT)

While you can't stop the march of progress and in most cases don't want to, it's important to review the impact it has on officials in all sports. Video replay has become common place in most international sport, but what isn't being addressed is the deterioration of concentration of on field officials as a consequence. It's human nature to 'switch off' a bit if you know that there is a fall back in the event of an important decision. I'm not saying officials are consciously ignoring areas which are technology assisted, but there's growing evidence that subliminally officials are not 'as concerned' if they miss an on field call, because it'll be reviewed anyway. This then leads to a general decline in concentration. The general lack of concentration from Rauf & Bowden was evident, when Rauf called a 5 ball over just 40 minutes into a days' play! Bowden was saved twice by the 3rd umpire on day 4 from a seven ball over. Next step is just a series of lights from upstairs and a hat rack

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (November 14, 2012, 1:46 GMT)

5 dismissals - only 1 was called on the spot. Please get it right. They were: 1) Kallis, caught behind off Siddle 2) Cowan, caught behind off Morkel 3) Clarke, caught behind off Philander - called on the spot 4) Clarke, caught behind off Morkel and 5) Amla, clean bowled by Pattinson. As for whether they are no balls or no calls, I think it is no calls, but I think that that has been a part of cricket since cricket began. If they can give it a no ball on review of a dismissal, should they be giving it a no ball every time? It would make it a very different game. It is a bit like the bowling degree of tolerance for chucking - I think that there needs to be some tolerance for no balls too. I don't think that umpires should be able to check if it is a no ball after they have otherwise thought it was out. If it is not called at the time, it is not a no ball. That is my opinion.

Posted by cass10au on (November 14, 2012, 1:33 GMT)

I have no problems with technology being used to check a no-ball call when a wicket falls cause in the end if it`s a no ball it`s a no ball Two ways they could think to decrease & improve the no balls in test matches are bring in the FREE HIT ( has worked in the shorter formats & just look at his team mates when one is bowled ) Or let technology take over the front line from the Umpire & he can concentrate more on the business end ...Now doubt at first technolgy would pick up alot more no balls that are missed when no wicket falls but bowlers well end up getting the message cause I know the captain sure well

Posted by Meety on (November 14, 2012, 0:24 GMT)

I think that given we are trying to make UDRS - an Umpire's call, I think in the end, no-balls on wicket taking dismissals should remain with the umpire & only howlers be overruled on. By howler (in terms of no-ball calls), I mean where a bowler has overstepped the line clearly or in other words not even touching the line. That being said, surely we could have some equipment off the stumps (or even in the crease itself that emits a beep if a bowler bowls a no-ball??? This would take the momentary confusion out of the equation. BTW - I am not disputing what went on this Test as it is all within the interpretations of the laws.

Posted by L4zybugg3r on (November 13, 2012, 23:10 GMT)

@funkybluesman - I'm pretty sure it doesn't have to be grounded behind the line, just that some part of the shoe has to be behind it (there have been past cases where the heel is raised). I agree that his foot covered the line but I think his shoe was slightly curved so part of it mightve been behind the line. Anyway as mentioned it was incredibly tight and I would be happy to give not out because the bowler isn't making enough effort to stay behind the line. This is similar to batsmen being given out more often LBW when not playing a shot ie the player should make more of an effort (although these days DRS seems to reverse these decisions).

Posted by dmat on (November 13, 2012, 23:06 GMT)

Professional cricketers have professional coaches - where are they? These no balls not only deprived their teams of wickets but ruined this test match as a spectacle. Pay me $200k plus per year, let me travel the world watching cricket and I'll stop these bowlers from bowling no balls. No use blaming technology, the umpires or the rules - it's the bowlers and their coaches who are at fault.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 23:00 GMT)

Re: on_the_level

This is true, but you can't make the assumption that it will have either a negative or positive impact.

For an individual wicket ball it might make a difference, but over the course of an over, an innings or a career the bowlers would be far better off bowling less no balls.

Re: Jonathan_E

Quite frankly that is bollocks, it's much better to spend the 10 seconds checking for overstepping while the batsman is walking back to the pavilion than having incorrect calls.

Posted by one-eyed-but-keepinitreal on (November 13, 2012, 22:59 GMT)

Perhaps the biggest variable affecting stride length occurs between the landings of the back and front feet. This is where the final decision about effort, length, and line of delivery is made. Movement of the batsman, fatigue, extra effort, footmarks, and late decision changes can significantly alter the distance of the final stride. A number of factors affect an umpire's no ball call - parallax error, the back foot obscuring the front, sliding front feet, primacy of focus (in an instant we expect the umpire to move to to the important wickets area). This means some no balls aren't called and some are called incorrectly. This has always been the case, we just catch it better. Erring on the side of caution then, more no balls will be missed. Arguments have been provided as to why it is better to recall a batsman after a no ball. Cricket has tended to favour batsmen over the last 20 years. Perhaps we should return to the back foot rule. This is not just moving the problem.

Posted by MinusZero on (November 13, 2012, 22:48 GMT)

Why do bowlers insist on landing their heel on the crease. Is there any problem with having your toes there instead? Surely the 20cm difference wont make a difference to the speed of delivery. It will save runs and wickets though. If i was a coach, i would fine players for no balls. That would stop the problem. There is NO excuse for overstepping.

Posted by funkybluesman on (November 13, 2012, 22:14 GMT)

Re: Simoc The problem is that measurement isn't so much the problem. As a bowler, approaching the crease you sort of feel where you should be to an extent, and without even doing it consciously, if you put the mark back a little more you'll often just tend to stride slightly further with each step to get yourself to the same point at delivery. So all putting the mark back a bit does is to throw off your rhythm even more.

I'm with many other people though who think that many bowlers don't care about bowling no-balls in training, and what you do in practice is going to relate to what you do in a match. If they practice making sure they are landing in the right place, then that would surely help.

Posted by funkybluesman on (November 13, 2012, 22:10 GMT)

re: philvic

Morkel's was a no-ball. His foot covered the entire line but there wasn't at any point some of his foot grounded behind the line. It's an incredibly tight call, but it is a correct one.

Posted by funkybluesman on (November 13, 2012, 22:09 GMT)

Before hawkeye was introduced in tennis, they used to have sensors on the service line that would beep if the ball was out. Surely we have the technology now that they can implement something that automatically detects no-balls accurately and sends notification to the umpire so he doesn't even have to watch for them anymore. Do it for all the balls.

I always think with these ones, if the umpires don't call no-balls, the bowler continues to bowl them and then only gets caught when a wicket falls. So I think they really need to try and implement something to call all no-balls with technology, not just the wickets

Posted by cricmatters on (November 13, 2012, 21:20 GMT)

Why not learn to bowl six inches behind the crease in the nets? No balls are costly in One day and T20 Cricket and now more so in Test Cricket when a wicket is taken and not given. Some people are talking about relaxing the rules but no matter what changes you bring in, Bowlers will always be pushing that fine line. I like the new rule where third umpires checks for a legal delivery every time a wicket is taken. LBW rules are the real problem for Cricket, not the no balls but that's another topic all together.

Posted by cheesemethod on (November 13, 2012, 21:19 GMT)

I'm with Ragha and I've been saying this for ages. There must be technology where the 3rd umpire can view everyball and give a quick decision to the onfield umpires within 5-10 seconds of the delivery. Umpires need a still head to be watching for nicks/lbws. Take the accountability away from them as some of the decisions have been within a couple of mm... impossible for an onfield umpire to be 100% certain.

Posted by on_the_level on (November 13, 2012, 21:11 GMT)

A couple of the commentators were saying on air that a couple of mm does not make a difference to the ball delivered. I disagree. The difference in the length the ball travels affects the swing, the pace and the bounce. It is only a couple of mm between a thick outside edge falling safe and a thin snick through to the keeper!

Posted by RaghavendraMaiya on (November 13, 2012, 17:34 GMT)

Some modern technology needs to be implemented to detect whether the bowler has overstepped or not and should send the information to on-field umpire as quickly as possible... I think this is the ultimate solution for such kind of mishaps.

Posted by Jonathan_E on (November 13, 2012, 17:32 GMT)

For "overstepping", read "throwing". The same issues apply: The umpire on the field should make the call, for each and every individual delivery.

Because how bowlers bowl in the nets, or in practice, or even under the heavily contrived circumstances of "remedial action", whether said action is to fix their run-up or their bowling action, is NOT how you will bowl in an actual match when the bowler wants to make just that little bit more effort.

Umpires need to actually start making the hard calls. If they think a bowler has overstepped, call him right away: if they think he's chucking, call him on a per-delivery basis. None of this "reporting to the authorities after the match is over" rubbish, or indeed "referring to the TV cameras after the wicket is taken". Call it ON THE SPOT and BALL BY BALL.

Posted by Longmemory on (November 13, 2012, 15:15 GMT)

Given how few wickets fell in this match, and how hard it was for bowlers to get a batsman out, I say give it a little more time and they will get the message on their own. If the Ump asks for a line-check every time a bowler gets a wicket - as is pretty much becoming the pattern - bowlers will soon realize that they had better err on the side of caution than pushing it to the brink. If they don't - as seems to be the case with Morkel - they will keep getting batsmen out only to watch the decision get reversed. And it will serve them right.

Posted by a1s2 on (November 13, 2012, 15:11 GMT)

this will only help the bowlers practice their run up.A no ball is a no ball simple as that.and also yes they do have time to adjust their shot against a spinner but come on a spinner or a medium pace balling a no ball? that's a big crime and deserves to be hit for a boundary

Posted by SAFan11 on (November 13, 2012, 13:35 GMT)

Peter J. Bovey has the most sensible comment here, you beat me to it actually. I have been saying that they should use tennis serve technology for ages. It would lead to less no balls as it would force regular offenders to correct their action. It would also give the batsmen a better chance to take advantage. I am in favour of a tennis style beep though.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 13:19 GMT)

It's the same as people who complain about getting a speeding fine, or especially getting caught in "hot spots"...if you're not speeding, you don't get caught. If you don't over-step, you're not going to get no-balled when you think you've taken a wicket.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 12:54 GMT)

Richie Benaud has been saying it for years - the back foot no-ball was much simpler. It gave the umpires more time, a better angle, an unimpeded view (sometimes the front foot is obscured by the bowler's own back leg), and given the bowler only had to touch the back crease, it was very easy to observe an infraction. The front foot no-ball rule is ridiculous. If bowlers were told that they couldn't even touch the front line in the delivery stride, no-balls would end.

Posted by Simoc on (November 13, 2012, 12:04 GMT)

Fast bowlers aren't to smart at the best of times so getting them to measure their run-up correctly is difficult. The mentality is a cm closer is faster and more likely to beat and get the batsmen out. Of course that's nonsense but try and explain that to a simple fast bowler. Mark Taylor and Chappell were 100% wrong in saying a couple of mm don't matter. They most obviously do and the rules and rulings are way better now than ever before.

Posted by philvic on (November 13, 2012, 11:53 GMT)

Except Morkel's no-ball wasnt actually a no-ball. Surely the onfield umpire should only be overruuled on no-ball when there is no doubt that it is a noball and in this case from the replays it was most likely a fair delivery. That error could have changed the game significantly.

Posted by cat5a on (November 13, 2012, 11:49 GMT)

A no ball is a no ball , get with it it.

Posted by S.C.G. on (November 13, 2012, 11:38 GMT)

As batsmen have virtually no time to react to Umpire's NB calls - I think giving batsmen a free-hit on the next ball would be a good incentive for bowlers to stay behind the crease...

Posted by V-Man_ on (November 13, 2012, 11:31 GMT)

@Daniel MacPherson: Mark Nicholas's suggestion isn't a sensible suggestion. it would mean then they will also have to change the stumping rule too. which also says a batman's foot has to be behind the line. the line belongs to the unpire.

Posted by V-Man_ on (November 13, 2012, 11:26 GMT)

It was shocking to see that many no balls in a test which had 5 of the top 10 icc bowlers. I just wonder how many no balls they bowl in training. The game would have been lot more exciting without those 4 no balls even after the one day washed out. Imagine if Kallis didnt get 100 or cowan got out on the last over of the 3rd day when he was on 48. we probably would've had a result. it was ver disappointing.

Posted by Clan_McLachlan on (November 13, 2012, 10:56 GMT)

Time to go back to the back-foot no-ball rule. I think that the front foot no-balls experiment, trialed in 1963, has been pretty thoroughly discredited by now.

Posted by BG4cricket on (November 13, 2012, 10:53 GMT)

I think the current rule makes it really tough for the umpires. I would prefer the rule be modified so that it becomes any part of the foot behind OR ON the popping crease (this would have allowed the Siddle and Morkel to Cowan wickets) and it makes it slightly easier for the umpire as it will make them more obvious to detect and also enable them to focus on edges, LBWs etc. It is very tough for the umpires to look at the line and then quickly focus on the action. Naturally it could be done by the 3rd umpire but I think this might be going too far and interrupt the flow of the game a little too much.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 10:36 GMT)

How about reviewing no balls if in doubt even when a wicket hasn't fallen? By letting the bowler overstep, the umpire is implicitly telling him all is ok and his runup is fine. Therefore the bowler makes no adjustments, keeps doing it, earns a wicket and has it taken off him by the same umpire who told him (through silence) that he was fine.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 10:29 GMT)

what's needed is technology similar to that used in tennis with a light on top of middle stump or the umpires hat so that a no ball flashes red and the batsman can play a shot at the noball and none get missed the current system is dreadful

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 10:20 GMT)

I reckon the bowlers should be practicing their run ups when their bowling to the batsman in the nets. You watch them bowling in the nets an their front foot is at least a metre over the crease!

Posted by richjhart on (November 13, 2012, 10:09 GMT)

I would point out that the regularity with which wickets are being taken shows something - it DOES make a difference.

Now whether it's a cause or a symptom is open for debate. It's possible that when a bowler oversteps it's because he's putting that extra effort in which causes both the overstep and the mistake in the batsmen.

But the entire reason that a front foot no ball is called is because you are shortening the length of the pitch and therefore increasing the chances of the batsmen making a mistake. Now it's true that a few inches shouldn't make much of a difference. But it does make a difference. So if a bowler consistently bowls half a foot closer to the batsmen, he reduces the margin of error and increases his chance of taking a wicket.

So it's really up to the bowler - does he accept the risk of the no ball to improve the chances of the batsmen making a mistake.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 10:08 GMT)

A no ball is worth five runs. Problems disappears overnight?

Posted by Gizza on (November 13, 2012, 10:05 GMT)

@disco_bob, the problem with your suggestion is that a bowler can go half way down the pitch, deliver the ball at the stumps and the batsman will either be cleaned bowled or LBW because they won't have time to react. The batsman is out and they only receive 4 runs for the no-ball. You can get a team all out for 40 runs if that was the rule.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 10:00 GMT)

@ Daniel MacPherson I didn't hear Mark Nicholas's remarks, but I think there is a little confusion in what you say. The line already belongs to the umpire, so effectively the delivery only becomes a no ball once the heel is beyond the crease. However, at present the heel doesn't have to be grounded: the bowler's heel can be in mid-air actually over the white line with the toes grounded beyond the crease, and it is technically a legal delivery. Clearly, it is impossible for an umpire to monitor this accurately given the speed of the bowler's approach and the angle of his vision. I assume Nicholas was suggesting doing away with the "in the air" element and insisting that the heel is grounded on or behind the white line. Who'd be an umpire?

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 9:26 GMT)

Why have umpires calling no balls? Just get the TV umpire to take a look every ball...simple!

Posted by peeeeet on (November 13, 2012, 9:24 GMT)

I don't think any fault can be laid in the umpires, it's the bowlers who need to take greater care. Surely a bowler can adjust to being a foot behind the line, not constantly pushing the boundaries.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 9:15 GMT)

Ask Shane Warne about this issue. He was out on 99 against the Kiwi's and later footage showed the bowler had overstepped. I'm sure Warney wishes the umpire THEN had the power to review the dismissal, because he would have had at least one test hundred in his glorious career.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 9:13 GMT)

The umpires should be calling the no ball right away. It is absolutely frustrating to see any cricketers celebrate a wicket, or the batsman to rue a missed opportunity only for the umpire to go "Hey i wasnt sure that was a no ball, but now you might have a wicket, i am going to double check that" All this does is cover the umpire, which is leading to a drop in umpiring standards.

Posted by Kheruvim on (November 13, 2012, 9:11 GMT)

I remember an initiative in the limited overs league in England about 10 or 15 years ago which made a no ball worth two runs. That reduced the amount bowled considerably. Maybe they should start doing the same for test cricket. I don't think a free hit in test cricket should be used though.

Posted by disco_bob on (November 13, 2012, 8:55 GMT)

How about allowing a wicket off a no ball but penalising the bowler 4 for each no ball called.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (November 13, 2012, 8:51 GMT)

I think this problem will go away by itself, as bowlers get it thru their heads that they can't continue bowling as close to the crease as possible, as now they will be checked for legitimacy when taking wickets. I've never understood how bowlers bowl no balls. All they have to do is plan for their foot to land comfortably inside the crease - as Hilfy obviously does - rather than trying to land their heal as close as possible to the crease. After, what advantage does a few inches gain them anyway?? Looks like nowadays, it's going to cost them too often. I think this Test will be seen as the watershed.

Posted by tabopener on (November 13, 2012, 8:51 GMT)

On the ABC Radio coverage, Geoff Lawson put up a lot of excuses for a bowler bowling no-balls - the grass, wind, longer stride from the effort ball etc. All of them are complete rubbish. If a professional bowler can consistently put his front foot on or about the bowling crease, he should be able to consistently put it behind the crease. The small change in foot placement distance makes no difference to ball speed or effort on the ball, so there is really no excuse.

Perhaps ESPN Cricinfo or the ICC can put up a Michael Holding prize for a bowler who gets a certain amount of wickets and doesn't bowl a Test no-ball in a calendar year ???

Posted by hycIass on (November 13, 2012, 8:50 GMT)

I like the DRS, it helps catch no balls whereas previously they would have been missed. Though saying that Cowan got lucky as his caught behind wasn't a no ball. Also the Aussie top order got away this time but they better keep making the runs as the likes of Khawaja, Doolan, Burns are getting solid shield scores.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 8:50 GMT)

I agree that there must be one bright-line rule. Some of the Ch 9 commentators, particularly Mark Taylor, were arguing that there should be some lee-way, that umpires should have some discretion, as a bowler overstepping by a few millimetres makes no difference to the delivery. While it's undoubtedly true that a few mm here or there are unlikely to have any decisive impact, it's also true that at some point overstepping does create a disadvantage for the batsman, and introducing the human element of judgement would just create more controversy and inconsistency.

Mark Nicholas made, though, what seems like a sensible suggestion: that the rule should be changed to it being a no-ball if there is no part of the foot touching the line (rather than behind the line) -- it would be easier for umpires to see a no ball based on a gap between foot and the line.

Posted by Hammond on (November 13, 2012, 8:24 GMT)

Let's revert to the back foot bowling law. It is the only real way forward.

Posted by nzcricket174 on (November 13, 2012, 8:22 GMT)

I have done some umpiring lately and have noticed something about calling no balls. Certain bowlers would often get close or slightly overstep, yet I would be hesitant to call it. I only seemed to call them when they either repeatedly offended or overstepped by a noticeable margin. Just thought I'd put this perspective out there.

Posted by St00rt on (November 13, 2012, 8:19 GMT)

The "no ball" that Morne Morkel bowled to dismiss Ed Cowan in the first Aussie dig simply wasn't a no ball. Part of his heel, although in the air, was behind the line (albeit marginally) when the front of his foot first made contact with the deck. The 3rd umpire got that wrong (and it cost SA dearly). Still, one could argue that he shouldn't have been that close to overstepping in the first place.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 8:06 GMT)

"Bowlers might find it frustrating when umpires check for a no-ball after a batsman is dismissed, but they have nobody to blame but themselves" says Coverdale. My question in return: who are they blaming other than themselves? Needlessly provocative by-line, in my opinion.

Posted by   on (November 13, 2012, 7:56 GMT)

Yes! Thank you! I fully agree! It was truly grating to listen to the commentators go on and on about it during this Test. It's very simple: if you're bowling no-balls, fix your run-up in practice. You have a lot of room to work with inside that crease - there's absolutely no excuse for stepping over, and if a batsman gets a reprieve off your bowling when you make that mistake, then you have absolutely nobody to blame but yourself, no matter how marginal your transgression might've been. The line is there for a reason.

Posted by nthuq on (November 13, 2012, 7:47 GMT)

Exactly right. The number of no balls in the recent game was simply aggravating. Fortunately, the main culprits were men who never really looked like taking a wicket.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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