August 4, 2012

England v South Africa 2012

Laws for fairytale giants

Andrew Hughes
James Taylor does his best to reach Steven Finn for a high five, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 2nd day, August 3, 2012
Can you blame Steven Finn for having dodgy, trembling knees, when he has to bend down every time the tiny James Taylor has a point to make?  © PA Photos
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Friday, 3rd August The Laws of the game are a treasure house of cricket justice and truth. More complicated than the instruction manual for the International Space Station; thicker than the 17 volumes of the Administrative Affairs and Paperclip Procurement Amendment Act 1971, and more ethical than the Old and New Testaments put together, the Laws are the Alpha and Omega of our glorious sport.

But while it's reassuring to know they exist, almost nobody reads them. This is because we've all been playing the game since we were smaller than Gus Logie's garden gnomes and we learnt what we need to know on the playing fields of our youth. Such as, for example, the Law that states a batsman should not prevent a bowler from being able to see the stumps or the Law that decrees a batsman shall be considered in, regardless of whether he grounds his bat, providing he shouts, "In!" upon nearing the crease.

Most of the time, we rub along just fine. But every so often something untoward occurs and after several minutes of head scratching, someone suggests opening the Great Book of Wisdom. And when you do, you are reminded of how mysterious the game is; in fact, every time I flick through the Laws, I come across something new. It's as though they're being secretly amended every night by mischievous cricket-loving leprechauns.

The big Law of the moment is the previously unknown Law 23(4)(vi), which has earned its 15 minutes of fame thanks to the timber-disturbing exploits of young Steven Finn's knee.

Law 23(4)(vi) was first introduced in 1878 after a game between Old Knackers and Old Colonials ended in disagreeable disharmony. The match finished on the stroke of afternoon tea, but a crowd of upper middle-class protestors lingered outside the pavilion until well after supper time, booing politely and offering shouts of "I say, sir!" and "Jolly bad show!" Eventually the constabulary had to break up an orderly mob of lawyers, pharmacists and insurance brokers who were attempting to compose a stiff letter to the Times.

The whole sorry affair had been caused by the disgraceful behaviour of Old Knackers' crack underarm chucker, Nobby "Nobbly" Nobbingham who had attempted to put the batsmen off by making loud and distracting noises as he ran up to bowl; including mooing like a cow, whistling the Russian national anthem and pausing in his delivery stride to pass some off-colour remarks about Her Majesty. That evening, the Home Secretary was summoned to the Palace and Law 23(4)(vi) was rushed into being the next day.

Ever since, it has been considered bad form to distract the batsman by means of noise-making, interpretative dance, pulling silly faces or performing an Irish jig. But the punishment should fit the crime and there are mitigating circumstances in this case. Finn's apparent inability to control his knees should not be held against him. Given his proportions and the demands placed on his body by the entirely unnatural practice of running as fast as you can towards another human being and stopping on the spot before hurling a little leather ball, it is hardly surprising that there is the odd flailing limb, indeed it is remarkable that he manages to remain upright on the field of play for as long as he does.

And it's not as though England have gained an advantage by Finn repeatedly dislodging the timber. The small satisfaction of momentarily distracting Biff and chums from their business is surely outweighed by the problem of having a fast bowler with a permanently bruised knee. So perhaps the MCC should consider an amendment:

"Notwithstanding the aforementioned, exemption shall be granted from the effect of Law 23(4)(vi) in the case of giraffes on rollerblades, stilt walkers, fairytale giants and anyone who has to duck when getting on a bus."

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Keywords: Laws/Rules

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Dan Gardner on (August 17, 2012, 8:43 GMT)

I love the fact that there are a few people on here that are taking this article with so much seriousness, therefore completely misinterpreting the point of it! Good read as always Mr Hughes! :)

Posted by Andrew Hughes on (August 8, 2012, 16:26 GMT)

Thanks all to your comments.

To John, Mickey, Cricketza and Kishor, thank you for showing that in a cynical age, there are still some honest souls out there prepared to take things at face value.

To Terrypratchetfan, could you elaborate?

Posted by Bibhash on (August 8, 2012, 14:19 GMT)

"Eventually the constabulary had to break up an orderly mob of lawyers, pharmacists and insurance brokers who were attempting to compose a stiff letter to the Times."

did that constitute complete anarchy in 19th century England? that and refusing tea

Posted by TerryPratchetFan on (August 6, 2012, 7:33 GMT)

Now then Andrew, Nobby Nobbingham? We trust you to be original old chap.

Posted by Karan on (August 6, 2012, 6:34 GMT)

Loved the bit about Nobby "Nobbly" Nobbingham :D

Posted by Kishor on (August 6, 2012, 6:30 GMT)

Not sure where the author is going with his argument. To help bowlers like Steve Finn, the popping crease is made wide enough to bowl the small leather ball without disturbing the stumps. May be the author needs to have a good hard look at what a cricket ground, pitch, stumps and the popping crease look like and then re-write the article.

Posted by Ajay on (August 6, 2012, 4:10 GMT)

What about bowlers pausing in the midst of their bowling action for some deliveries and not for others? Isn't that distraction too?

Posted by Cricketza on (August 5, 2012, 18:53 GMT)

This is bordering on the absurd. Millions of people play the game and Finn must learn to bow from wider and not disrupt the wickets as it is indeed off-putting. Sure if it was once a game there wont be anyhting to get excited about but every other over he has done it much to the frustration of SA and AUS.

Rules apply to everyone and Finn is no exception

Posted by emaad on (August 5, 2012, 13:11 GMT)

hehe.....very clever Karthik

Posted by Mickey Mao on (August 5, 2012, 12:55 GMT)

Professional cricketers are paid to perform He should get it sorted or move out wider from the stumps Having a 7 foot giant to contend with is bad enough without low- down distractions for the batsmen. In fact they should add stump kicking to the No Ball list and see how quickly Finn adjusts.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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