England v South Africa, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 1st day August 2, 2012

Finn's knee sparks Laws debate

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The MCC will review the Laws of the game following the incident at Headingley when Graeme Smith was reprieved following an edge to first slip, off a delivery from Steven Finn that had already been called dead ball, due to the bowler dislodging the bails at the non-striker's end with his knee.

Umpire Steve Davis called dead ball, citing Law 23.4(b)(vi), stating that Smith, who was on 6 at the time, had been distracted by Finn's right knee breaking the stumps in his delivery stride. It later transpired that both batsmen had previously complained to the umpires that Finn's habit of knocking into the stumps was off-putting.

Finn had collided with the stumps three times in his first couple of overs without Davis intervening but, starting with the ball Smith edged, Davis called dead ball every time Finn dislodged the bails, twice on occasions when Smith hit boundaries.

However, James Anderson said the umpire had not alerted them about the situation. "It was frustrating for us because the umpire didn't warn us he was going to do it but the batsmen said it was distracting and they had been in the umpire's ear. Finny was told to be careful because it was distracting the batsmen, at no stage was he told it would be called dead ball

"There is nothing in the rules that says the umpire can't do that. It's strange that no batsmen have complained about it before and he has done it 50 times this summer if they thought it was distracting and they told the umpire, then fair enough."

AB de Villiers, though, insisted a warning had been given: "Graeme and Alviro made the point between balls. Steve said there was going to be a warning. He could easily have turned it down and say it won't be a dead ball."

Law 23.4(b)(iv) states that either umpire should call and signal dead ball when: "The striker is distracted by any noise or movement or in any other way while he is preparing to receive, or receiving a delivery. This shall apply whether the source of the distraction is within the game or outside it. The ball shall not count as one of the over."

The MCC, who have been the custodians of the Laws since their formation in 1787, subsequently issued a press release that underlined the impression that there is a grey area in the Laws in relation to the issue.

"Whether the batsman is distracted - or indeed has time to be distracted - is a moot point," the MCC stated. "Smith hit two subsequent balls for four when Finn had broken the wicket but the runs were disallowed as dead ball had been called. If the striker really feels he is distracted, he can try to pull away and make no attempt to play the ball, although this may not always be possible with a fast bowler like Finn.

"A precedent may have been set but it remains to be seen whether dead ball will be called on each occasion that this happens for the remainder of the match. Unlike some other Laws, there is no specified warning procedure for this situation. MCC's Laws sub-committee will discuss the matter at its next meeting and will work closely with ICC on issuing guidance to umpires.

"Of course, what the umpire feels is distracting to the batsman is entirely subjective, but Davis was within his rights to signal dead ball if he was sure that Smith was indeed distracted."

There is precedent for Davis' decision. Earlier this season, in a first-class game between Cambridge MCCU and Lancashire, the umpires called dead ball in similar circumstances. Cambridge seamer Peter Turnbull, like Finn, was also in the habit of dislodging the bails with his leg in his delivery stride and, after the Lancashire batsmen complained to the umpires about the distraction at the lunch interval, it was decided that all such repeat occurrences would result in the ball being called dead.

The issue of 'repeat offending' may be key here. The MCC are reluctant to intervene in one-off issues where bowlers brush the bails with their hand as they pass the stumps, but Finn and Turnbull have gone through periods of bashing into the stumps unusually heavily and unusually often. Finn has been working with Middlesex bowling coach Richard Johnson on trying to eradicate the problem from his game.

In retrospect Australia's captain, Michael Clarke, who was bowled in the NatWest Series at Chester-le-Street when Finn also collided with the stumps, may reflect that he missed a trick in not complaining about Finn's habit earlier.

"We will discuss amending the Laws," Fraser Stewart, Laws manager at the MCC, told ESPNcricinfo. "But we will not rush into anything.

"While it is true that the Laws would be clarified if they stated that every delivery would be called dead if the bails were dislodged, there are good reasons that is not the case. Nowhere in the Laws does it say that, whenever this happens, a dead ball must be called, and there is a danger that club umpires on Saturday will suddenly start thinking that they should.

"The fact that Finn is a repeat offender may be relevant. Unlike the Laws on bowlers running on the pitch, there is no element of 'three strikes and you're out' about this. There is, instead, an element of subjectivity.

"The ICC will need to get the various managers together - we have already been in communication with them - and we will discuss the issue at the next Laws sub-committee meeting. It would easy to react in a knee-jerk way, but we will sit down and calmly analyse the situation."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • RandyOZ on August 5, 2012, 1:40 GMT

    It should be a dead time every time a player dislodges the bails. Finn is trying to use dirty tactics to get wickets and I am glad Davis made this decision.

  • JG2704 on August 4, 2012, 22:28 GMT

    Got to be honest , I'd have no problem in changing the laws so that this becomes a no ball but the comment about 3 times and he's banned is way OTT. I don't remember Finn doing this sort of thing until recent months so it's a trait he has to iron out

  • JG2704 on August 4, 2012, 22:23 GMT

    @drsankalp on (August 04 2012, 01:01 AM GMT) Have to say this is one of thee most OTT comms I've ever read on this site

  • balajik1968 on August 4, 2012, 18:23 GMT

    It was smart on the part of the South Africans, but Finn also has himself to blame. They did to England, what England have done to a lot of other teams. It is not fair if the MCC comes up with a caveat for this. In the 80's when the West Indies were rampant, a rule was introduced limiting the number of bouncers. To review the rule because England was affected will throw the MCC open to charges of partisanship. When Pietersen came up with the switch hit, the MCC ruled that it was legal, but did not clarify if he could be ruled LBW to a ball pitched outside the right hander's leg stump.

  • on August 4, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    How has Finn got this far in 1st class cricket without anyone noticing this weird fault? What if the batman suddenly smashes his wicket by accident? He's out. Same should apply for a bowler interfering with the wicket....

  • UNIVERSAL_CRICKETER on August 4, 2012, 12:27 GMT

    ADMINISTRATORS & POLITICIANS WORLD OVER HAVE THIS TENDENCY TO COMPLICATE SIMPLE RULES & REGULATIONS..........WHY SHOULD THE BATSMAN SUFFER FOR THE BOWLERS MISTAKE.......IF THE BOWLER DOES SOMETHING LIKE THIS & OTHER ILLEGAL TRICKS...JUST CALL NO- BALL.....& ALLOW THE BATSMAN RUNS THAT HE HAVE SCORED.....IF BOWLER DOES THIS INTENTIONALLY THRICE...DON'T ALLOW HIM TO BOWL IN THAT SESSION...

  • on August 4, 2012, 7:55 GMT

    HAHA 50 times this summer, is this junior cricket?? isnt England "Number 1"?? and the number 1 ranked team's fast bowler doesnt know how to bowl properly LOL what a joke. this is ridiculous that we are even discussing this, they should amend the rules and any bowler hitting the stumps should be a no bowl, the batting team must be awarded for the bowlers mistake.

  • Meety on August 4, 2012, 7:10 GMT

    @jmcilhinney - in the end mate, Finn was done over by a great piece of legal gamesmanship. I wouldn't be surprised if the Saffas planned to do it. There is so much upside for Sth Africa, apart from maybe not getting out on a wicket taking delivery, it plays on Finn's mind (still early in his career) & disrupts team tactics (trying to pin Smith LBW). It was brilliant by Smith. Maybe the rules need to be clearer about warnings, but as it stands, the umpire was right & Finn has form, it just means other teams were too slow in taking on the tactic & so the umpires in the past have been correct NOT to call it, as nobody seems to have complained previously. I do believe it should be a no-ball if it is a repeat offence, but probably also needs the rules made clearer. If you go under the premise that a bowler has a certain area to bowl within & hitting the stumps is outside that area - then it is illegal, the rules don't say that though in respect of the stumps!

  • Gupta.Ankur on August 4, 2012, 7:06 GMT

    @DevilsCricket, Completely agree. Its a silly habit to have and it cannot be used as an excuse for distracting the batsmen.

    Also, its impossible for a batter to move away as you hardly get 0.5 secs to play a fast bowler.

    Finn must goto the academy and get it sorted out.

  • viviyog on August 4, 2012, 4:41 GMT

    I think it should be called a No-ball as it is called for over stepping or cutting the side line. I think the bowler tries to get as close to the stumps as possible to bowl wicket to wicket & in the process he/she hit the stumps with his/her body & that sometimes distract a batsman. Therefor my suggestion is that it should be called a No-Ball.

  • RandyOZ on August 5, 2012, 1:40 GMT

    It should be a dead time every time a player dislodges the bails. Finn is trying to use dirty tactics to get wickets and I am glad Davis made this decision.

  • JG2704 on August 4, 2012, 22:28 GMT

    Got to be honest , I'd have no problem in changing the laws so that this becomes a no ball but the comment about 3 times and he's banned is way OTT. I don't remember Finn doing this sort of thing until recent months so it's a trait he has to iron out

  • JG2704 on August 4, 2012, 22:23 GMT

    @drsankalp on (August 04 2012, 01:01 AM GMT) Have to say this is one of thee most OTT comms I've ever read on this site

  • balajik1968 on August 4, 2012, 18:23 GMT

    It was smart on the part of the South Africans, but Finn also has himself to blame. They did to England, what England have done to a lot of other teams. It is not fair if the MCC comes up with a caveat for this. In the 80's when the West Indies were rampant, a rule was introduced limiting the number of bouncers. To review the rule because England was affected will throw the MCC open to charges of partisanship. When Pietersen came up with the switch hit, the MCC ruled that it was legal, but did not clarify if he could be ruled LBW to a ball pitched outside the right hander's leg stump.

  • on August 4, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    How has Finn got this far in 1st class cricket without anyone noticing this weird fault? What if the batman suddenly smashes his wicket by accident? He's out. Same should apply for a bowler interfering with the wicket....

  • UNIVERSAL_CRICKETER on August 4, 2012, 12:27 GMT

    ADMINISTRATORS & POLITICIANS WORLD OVER HAVE THIS TENDENCY TO COMPLICATE SIMPLE RULES & REGULATIONS..........WHY SHOULD THE BATSMAN SUFFER FOR THE BOWLERS MISTAKE.......IF THE BOWLER DOES SOMETHING LIKE THIS & OTHER ILLEGAL TRICKS...JUST CALL NO- BALL.....& ALLOW THE BATSMAN RUNS THAT HE HAVE SCORED.....IF BOWLER DOES THIS INTENTIONALLY THRICE...DON'T ALLOW HIM TO BOWL IN THAT SESSION...

  • on August 4, 2012, 7:55 GMT

    HAHA 50 times this summer, is this junior cricket?? isnt England "Number 1"?? and the number 1 ranked team's fast bowler doesnt know how to bowl properly LOL what a joke. this is ridiculous that we are even discussing this, they should amend the rules and any bowler hitting the stumps should be a no bowl, the batting team must be awarded for the bowlers mistake.

  • Meety on August 4, 2012, 7:10 GMT

    @jmcilhinney - in the end mate, Finn was done over by a great piece of legal gamesmanship. I wouldn't be surprised if the Saffas planned to do it. There is so much upside for Sth Africa, apart from maybe not getting out on a wicket taking delivery, it plays on Finn's mind (still early in his career) & disrupts team tactics (trying to pin Smith LBW). It was brilliant by Smith. Maybe the rules need to be clearer about warnings, but as it stands, the umpire was right & Finn has form, it just means other teams were too slow in taking on the tactic & so the umpires in the past have been correct NOT to call it, as nobody seems to have complained previously. I do believe it should be a no-ball if it is a repeat offence, but probably also needs the rules made clearer. If you go under the premise that a bowler has a certain area to bowl within & hitting the stumps is outside that area - then it is illegal, the rules don't say that though in respect of the stumps!

  • Gupta.Ankur on August 4, 2012, 7:06 GMT

    @DevilsCricket, Completely agree. Its a silly habit to have and it cannot be used as an excuse for distracting the batsmen.

    Also, its impossible for a batter to move away as you hardly get 0.5 secs to play a fast bowler.

    Finn must goto the academy and get it sorted out.

  • viviyog on August 4, 2012, 4:41 GMT

    I think it should be called a No-ball as it is called for over stepping or cutting the side line. I think the bowler tries to get as close to the stumps as possible to bowl wicket to wicket & in the process he/she hit the stumps with his/her body & that sometimes distract a batsman. Therefor my suggestion is that it should be called a No-Ball.

  • drsankalp on August 4, 2012, 1:01 GMT

    Simple rule should be any bowler doing it three times should be banned from bowling rest of match. It is ridiculous that you have one yardstick on frontfoot stuff and other for sideways stuff. Plain stupidity of MCC.

  • on August 3, 2012, 23:15 GMT

    I believe that it is distracting and is time wasting! Surely a professional international cricketer should be able to bowl the bowl without dislodging the bails! I have no problem with the batsmen complaining about this. @ Jose Puliampatta, I agree with you in regards to when it should be called a Dead Ball and when it should be called a No Ball.

  • Chris_P on August 3, 2012, 21:47 GMT

    I can sympathize with Smith. Even the level I play at, it is extremely off-putting hearing that as it momentarily takes your concentration away. Repeated efforts would really get under my skin. The law is there to cover this and it was utilized, so there is no issue. For those who comment about Smith hitting other balls for runs, most times it doesn't affect you, but it still does affect your concentration on occasions, so why should the bowler get that advantage at all? It's just like if someone yells out in tennis as you serve, you might hit an ace or you might hit the net. Same for golf, no one distracts the golfer as he prepares to hit, they may iot most tee shots well, but miss the odd one. If you ever had it done to you while you've batted, you would understand the concern.

  • mrmonty on August 3, 2012, 19:55 GMT

    @ jmcilhinney, spare us the outrage about consistency. If a player (Smith in this case) feels there is a situation that contravenes the laws (Finn distracting by disturbing the stumps), he has the right to bring it to umpire's attention. Lot of times LBWs and caught-behinds are not given because nobody appeals for them and the umpire does not go out of his way to rule on non-appeals. So, wouldn't you say there is lack of consistency there, too? Bottom line is an appeal is met with an adjudication by the umpire and eventually the law prevailed. And, nobody hates England. They have found their feet on world stage after a couple of lost decades. So, power to them.

  • jmcilhinney on August 3, 2012, 17:21 GMT

    There are some rather pathetic comments from some England-haters on here. There is no indication that the MCC are looking to change the laws to make life easier for an English player. What the story says is that they are looking to make the laws clearer so there is not such a grey area and therefore less confusion. Noone is suggesting that they simply make breaking the non-striker's stumps legal so Finn doesn't have to change but if you're first order of business is to hate England then you'll interpret it in whatever way justifies that position. All this talk of repeat offenders and no balls is ridiculous too. Either the batsman is distracted or he's not. Whether the bowler has done it before is irrelevant to that. As for no balls, there was nothing about the delivery that was against the laws of the game so there's no justification for it being called a no ball. It's not like Finn was doing it on purpose to try to gain an advantage, or are the England-haters conspiracy theorists too?

  • jmcilhinney on August 3, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    My main issue in this whole affair is consistency. Finn has being doing this repeatedly all summer and noone else has said anything. That's not to say that the SA batsmen didn't have the right to complain, but it hasn't really seemed to make much difference overall. What if a batsmen had been dismissed the first time Finn did it this game? Would the batsman have complained then and dead ball been called retrospectively? What if the batsman had hit the first such delivery for four? Would he have complained then and, if he didn't, could he have legitimately complained later? I think that there should be a hard and fast rule. If some batsmen are distracted by it and some aren't, the umpire cannot know who is who to decide when the batsman was distracted and call dead ball and when not. If you wait for the batsman to complain then he might already be out and it may be too late. If you let the batsman complain after he is out then some may say they were distracted when they weren't.

  • jmcilhinney on August 3, 2012, 17:06 GMT

    Initially I thought that the umpire had called dead ball simply because the batsman had got out and I was not happy. Now knowing that the batsmen had previously complained to the umpire about it being distracting, as is their right, and the umpire had spoken to Finn about it I have no issue with dead ball being called. The umpire could have told Finn that he would call dead ball the next time it happened but he is obviously not required to. Given that the usual call when a batsman is distracted by something is dead ball then I'm not sure what else could reasonably have been interpreted from being told that the batsmen were being distracted by the non-strikers wicket being broken though. I've been saying all summer that Finn needs to fix this and its seems he is apparently trying to but it just became much more urgent.

  • wattersd on August 3, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    As an England supporter, I would say the laws are perfectly good as is. The only thing I would change would be that I would have allowed any runs that a batsmen scores when the bails are broken by the bowler because it's probably fair to say he clearly wasn't distracted if he was able to score ... in Smith's case, boundaries. If the batsman is dismissed off a ball that began with the bowler dismissing the bails at the bowling crease they are always going to contend that they were distracted so it should be a dead ball. Furthermore there is a significant downside to the bowling team by the bowler dislodging the bails - they're making a run out at the bowlers end less likely. Any direct hit type run out is not going to count - if the bails have been dislodged for any reason then the fielder would need to remove the stumps whilst holding the ball for the wickets to be broken.

  • DevilsCricket on August 3, 2012, 15:56 GMT

    Knocked the stumps 50 times this summer.. well then, he needs to go back to the academy to learn how not to do that

  • JG2704 on August 3, 2012, 15:38 GMT

    @ Meety on (August 03 2012, 01:33 AM GMT) Sorry bud but I disagree. I think if it is not officially a no ball then an umpire did the right thing by calling dead ball every time Finn hit the wicket. If there is nothing technically illegal about the delivery (in which case it should be a no ball) then you are opening up too many grey areas by trying to adjudge whether the noise put the batsman off. I'm not saying the law shouldn't have it as a no ball but unless it is a no ball then I think the umpire got it spot on. In fact they probably should have this kind of thing as a no ball but despite what one poster says I don't think it already does equate a no ball officially. I can't imagine the umpires getting it that wrong

  • on August 3, 2012, 15:12 GMT

    hahaha well said dude @ Radu Ogrezeanu-Ghica

  • on August 3, 2012, 14:45 GMT

    If wind (or a dog as it can happen in SriLankan grounds -- where it even 'delivers' its opinion about the game which is going on, in no uncertain terms ... not by one such fourth umpire, but two... one after the other) dislodges the bails, it should be a 'dead' ball. But, if the bowler disturbs it before his delivery, it should be a "no" ball. What is the big problem, in having such a simple rule?

  • wrenx on August 3, 2012, 13:20 GMT

    Hilarious, an England player has problems following the rules, so the rules need to be changed. Good on Davis for adhering to the laws

  • wablo55 on August 3, 2012, 13:15 GMT

    Err, exactly how partisan is this kind of behaviour? The MCC seek to change the laws the moment an England bowler, much lauded in the domestic press, discovers that he is in fact incapable of doing the most basic things. Instead of punishing him or asking him to correct his erroneous ways, the MCC decide its better to change the laws. Even though the bowler himself admits that he and his coach have been labouring to remove this faulty aspect from his game; the MCC would rather make his life easier - at the expense of the rest of the cricketing world. Would the same generousity have been shown to Murali? Or a Pakistani bowler attaining prodigious swing?

  • muditb on August 3, 2012, 12:51 GMT

    @k.mithilesh I was just about to say the same......

  • drnaveed on August 3, 2012, 12:50 GMT

    it is an old saying ' treat the cause and not the symptom' , it should be finn who should review his bowling run up, rather than the laws of the game that should be reviewed. what you will do if finn next develops habit of running straight into the wkts and breaks all the three wkts ???

  • screamingeagle on August 3, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    So next time, these English players would like a warning be given in writing I guess, like a yellow card. Oh wait, thats football and this is cricket...Strange how these guys start crying when the rub of the green goes the other way.

  • on August 3, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    What is the rule: if non-striker bails are dislodged not by the bowler but by say wind! Would the delivery be called a "dead ball"? What if the bowler disturbed the wicket during very early part of the innings (say first over), would Davis or any other umpire have declared the delivery as "Dead Ball and ruled the batsman not out? Or negated runs scored? I am sure there can be other freakish scenarios to consider as well. Key to a good and an acceptable rule is that it has to be consistent and should not be subject to individual's interpretation. Other thing to consider is why call it a dead ball! Why not a no-ball? To me it is closer to an illegal delivery if the disturbance is caused by the bowler they have to be penalized rather than make the ball meaningless.

  • on August 3, 2012, 12:38 GMT

    I find this hilarious. "Finny was told to be careful because it was distracting the batsmen, at no stage was he told it would be called dead ball."

    What DID he think "be careful" meant? Be careful or your knee will hurt tonight?!

  • drewkatski on August 3, 2012, 12:31 GMT

    @Meety Don't disrespect the greatest batsman that ever walked the earth, Cristopher Stewart Martin. New Zealand's only glimmer of hope in their troubled batting lineup. ;)

  • indoorminer on August 3, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    I'm surprised this hasn't been addressed before. Finn has been doing this all summer and it's annoying. My only issue is that the umpire didn't call a dead ball before Finn got a wicket. Surely he should have had a word in his ear that he'd call dead ball if he took a wicket (which he may have done for all we know?), but I'd have no problem with a rule change to no-ball. For the record I'm an Eng supporter and I'm not using this non-dismissal as an excuse. We're 2nd best in this series so far, it's a s simple as that! And any Indian supporters who are reading please note that the DRS has cost us Peterson's wicket on 2 occasions. Am I bitter? No, because the correct decision was made as a result of DRS. You should try it sometime!!

  • JohnoP on August 3, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    This is not hard, people! The whole game is about the wickets and what they represent: OUT or NOT OUT. They belong to the umpire and cannot be interfered with in any way other than a legitimate attempt to have a person declared as OUT. If the are interfered with in any other way then it is outside of acceptable practice and should be penalized. If an accident, like slipping into them on delivery then DEAD BALL; if touched because too close to the no-go area then NO BALL! My 5c worth!

  • Selassie-I on August 3, 2012, 12:22 GMT

    SA do always seem to get the run of the umpirign calls against us, eg. the smith edge last series when Harper didn't have his earpiece in and he stayed at the crease to make nearly 200 and should ahve been out for about 7. but in fairness on this occasion Finn is in the wrong and it was a well used tactic by smith. but no wonder his record is so good against us, between eng and the umpires he usually gets a few lives!

  • on August 3, 2012, 12:11 GMT

    Anderson they are LAWS not RULES and Steve Davis all credit to him, Finn Needs to sort out his Run up he's playing Test match Cricket not Village

  • on August 3, 2012, 1:38 GMT

    why all the players expect everytime the umpire need to give warning, previously also i heard players said the need to receive warning before action. If the umpire dont react too harsh and not giving warning did the player take it granted.

  • Meety on August 3, 2012, 1:33 GMT

    @Smith Robertson - it's not just about the noise - the batsmen is watching the bowler not the crowd (unless he is maybe a tailend bunny like Chris Martin), the bails & stumps being rattled is a sound no batsmen wants to hear. == == == Very cunning ploy & totally within the rules. I think that ultimately a repeat offender should be no-balled for hitting the stumps in his delivery stride. This would mean an amendment to the rules, but it is ridiculous to deprive Smith of the boundaries - due to poor bowler technique!

  • Rahulbose on August 3, 2012, 1:10 GMT

    Bowling close to the stumps is an advantage for a seamer. So being able to run through them should be banned regardless of the disturbance issue.

  • BRUTALANALYST on August 3, 2012, 1:05 GMT

    WELL DONE Steve this was getting ridiculous ! I can only imagine the uproar form the English if this was say a Pakistani bowler doing this every other ball . . .

  • agent001 on August 3, 2012, 1:04 GMT

    Umpire Davis made the right call. This is a gentleman's game and Finn behavior is pathetic to distract the batsman. ICC should rule this to be a "no ball" in the future and this will stop Finn in his tracks !

  • on August 3, 2012, 0:54 GMT

    "It would easy to react in a knee-jerk way, but we will sit down and calmly analyses ( ?) the situation." MCC......

    Too late mate ....the batsmen have now given notice and the umpire will have to call dead ball each time Finn repeats the offence .

  • unregisteredalien on August 3, 2012, 0:50 GMT

    "Finny was told to be careful because it was distracting the batsmen, at no stage was he told it would be called dead ball" -- cry me a river Anderson. That's plenty of warning for the bowler. Finn clearly chose to ignore the umpire's advice. If he'd taken it seriously, he would enquired about the consequences or altered his line running in. The suggestion that a bowler cannot avoid running into the stumps is absurd and pathetic. I feel sorry for Smith who was docked a couple of boundaries due to the bowler's incompetence. If the rules are up for review, let's make this situation a no-ball so the batsman is insured but not penalised.

  • k.mithilesh on August 3, 2012, 0:49 GMT

    Is MCC going to change the law because an English bowler was denied a wicket??

  • Nampally on August 3, 2012, 0:44 GMT

    @davidc1984: Definition of the Return crease "Each of the two lines at right angles to bowling & popping crease". If the front foot of the bowler crosses the popping crease it is a No Ball. In addition, a bowler must also deliver his ball without crossing the return crease in order to avoid "No Ball". A bowler must bowl without crossing either the Return crease at the far end or hitting the wicket with his foot at the inside end. Breaking the wicket is equivalent to violating the return crease rule. You say "the bowlers back foot has to be within the stumps & the return crease" but Finn's back foot is hitting the stumps- "Not within the stumps". My interpretation of Rule 24 is that it should be called a No Ball.While popping crease can go as long as one wants, the bowling crease is restricted in width by Return crease. I fail to understand why every ball becomes a No Ball as per this interpretation.

  • on August 3, 2012, 0:40 GMT

    @Smith Robertson its funny that you said SA didn't play by the spirit of the game! I'm not a South African, but what do you exactly mean by that? What did SA do? They just complained because it is distracting! It was the umpire who called it Dead-Ball that also according to the law. If a batsman is distracted by anything related to bowler by his action or anything, isn't he supposed to complain?

  • vladtepes on August 3, 2012, 0:35 GMT

    i wondered about this very thing when they played against the west indies recently. i saw finn drop the bails 2 or 3 times and thought that's a good way to move the batsman's eyes. i think they should treat it like bouncers: you're allowed 1 per over, but it's a dead ball if the batsman gets out. after that, it's a no-ball.

  • Micgyver on August 3, 2012, 0:23 GMT

    Well done Steve Davis.Finn hits the stumps too often, it was annoying me as a spectator.

  • threeslipsandagully on August 3, 2012, 0:00 GMT

    Nice to see that the obnoxious gloating comments from other users continuing; I don't think anybody's making excuses for England considering it went both ways, and England were hardly in a bad position at stumps. I'm in agreement with Ellis Mclucas a few comments below; evidently they weren't that distracting to Smith if he flogged two boundaries from deliveries ruled dead balls. It's obviously a problem that Finn needs to address but it's never been an issue until this test, and I felt Smith's word in Davis' ear about it was pure gamesmanship on his part.

  • Street_Hawk on August 2, 2012, 23:59 GMT

    Smith Robertson: I don't know if you've ever played cricket in a ground, but what's most distracting to a batsman is what is happening right in front of him, especially inside the cricket ground..that's why if somebody moves near the sight screens, play gets stopped...Also, fielders don't sledge while a ball is being bowled while they do it plenty in between...If bails fly it can distract you, even play on your mind while you are facing the ball..I think it was a correct decision by Steve...and English supporters: please don't talk about spirit..we all remember what happened when Bell got out during the India series..India were badly beaten but they still showed the spirit that this England team is not capable of showing

  • NaniIndCri on August 2, 2012, 23:59 GMT

    Call it a no-ball and the issue is solved.

  • bringbackbrucelaird on August 2, 2012, 23:57 GMT

    Great call by Davis. Easy way for Fin to avoid this is to move to the left by a few inches and then the POMS cant complain. As a batsman it is distracting when the bowler keeps dislodging the bails.

  • on August 2, 2012, 23:54 GMT

    Really don't see what the issue here is. Finn does this all the time and it's been commented on a hell of a lot. As a batsman, you get into a pattern of facing a bowler - especially a quick - so any deviation from the norm, e.g. slower ball, beamer, short run up can throw your concentration off. The umpire made a judgement call based on his interpretation of a deliberately vague and catch-all law. The only unfortunate thing is the first time it happened it would have been a wicket. I bet if all the dead balls had been hit for four Strauss wouldn't have been mumping, would he?

  • landl47 on August 2, 2012, 23:53 GMT

    Hey, Graeme Smith found himself a nice little loophole and took advantage of it. Was he really distracted? Not enough to stop him hitting two 'dead balls' for 4. However, suggesting to Steve Davis that Finn brushing the stumps was distracting caused Davis to call 'dead ball' and (apart from saving Smith from being dismissed, which was pure coincidence) forced Finn to alter his delivery to avoid doing it again. Good thinking by Smith, who knows that throwing a bowler off even just a bit is going to make him less effective. In the long run, it will probably benefit Finn, who needed to get the problem sorted out anyway. A nice little bit of gamesmanship, all perfectly fair and above board. Great fun.

  • Clyde on August 2, 2012, 23:42 GMT

    It would be simpler to say the bowler can't dislodge a bail during delivery unless he/she is running a batsman out. Forget the disturbance question.

  • on August 2, 2012, 22:19 GMT

    Good call Stevie!

  • davidc1984 on August 2, 2012, 22:06 GMT

    Nampally - sorry but you've got the return crease rule completely wrong, your interpretation would make almost every ball a no ball. The bowler's back foot has to be between the stumps and the return crease, if he touches the return crease then it's a no ball. So the return crease has absolutely no relevance to this issue, as Finn is clearly a long way inside it.

  • on August 2, 2012, 21:47 GMT

    Silly law I mean its only a bail(s) you can't keep the crowd silent and the noise of the crowd 1000 of times louder compared to bail(s). South Africa simply didn't play by the spirit but I do agree Finn needs to sort that out because it happens everytime. Few times its okay like no balls but too many does cause controversy buts its certainly not impossible for Finn to sort out.

  • on August 2, 2012, 21:42 GMT

    As a panel club cricket umpire I think Steve Davis got it absolutely spot on....remember the umpire in those situations is never wrong!!. Accidental bail removal by a bowler in his delivery stride is exactly that....accidental...& as the ball is not AUTOMATICALLY dead - it is then solely a judgment for the umpire to make - and this case Davis not only applied relevant law (Law 23.4) but also Law 43...Common sense... as well because Smith and Petersen had already 'complained' about being previously distracted. The wicket at the bowlers end cannot be disturbed in this way while the ball is 'live' but in this instance they could and should have conferred - and been SEEN to do it as whenever umpires get together there IS DOUBT and if Strauss had witnessed them doing that then we probably wouldn''t have had the unedifying spectacle of the England captain making his desperate and frankly pathetic protest!!

  • on August 2, 2012, 21:31 GMT

    I haven't seen a bowler regularly dislodge the bails with his leg before. A difference between this and dislodging them with the hand is that the bails tend to fly up in to the batsman's eyeline. From memory, when bowlers have brushed the bails with the hand, the bails tend to fall down and back, landing at the umpire's feet. Yesterday, the bails were flying straight up. Whether there was an ulterior motive or not, it is surely understandable that this could be distracting to the batsman. It is only being talked about with such passion, in my opinion, because the first time it was called was the ball that Smith nicked.

  • creekeetman on August 2, 2012, 21:31 GMT

    well done steve davis.......................

  • AdrianVanDenStael on August 2, 2012, 21:07 GMT

    @Highflyer_GP: I was not blaming Smith; I said he was within his rights to complain.

  • SagirParkar on August 2, 2012, 21:05 GMT

    as for Anderson's comment on the umpire not notifying him, i think he needs to go learn the laws of the game.. it is a shame how so many players, even at international level, are unaware of the laws of the game.. the guys in our county league are no different but they do not argue when we lay down the law...

  • southwood on August 2, 2012, 21:04 GMT

    Zahidsaltin- such repeted behaviour is deliberate time wasting and 5 penalty runs can be added to the score as punishment for such an act. To make this delivery illegal ie no ball would require a complete change in the law and all the complications of interpreting the actions etc would make it even more diffucult for the umpires. They have enough to do as it is. It is a rare occurence and a knee jerk no ball law change is not the answer . Clearer guidance to the umpires is what is needed in the first instance. In this case a sensible solution was adopted within the laws by the Umpires

  • Lovedegame on August 2, 2012, 21:00 GMT

    the english have loved crying and wining about everything all the time specially when they are loosing

  • Tnreddy521 on August 2, 2012, 20:55 GMT

    Umpire should call it a no ball or a dead ball, because if a bowler hits the stumps and knocks off the bails and at the same time for the same delivery batsmen hit the ball and try to take a quick close single and imagine if the fielding team hit the stumps on the non strikers side, and if it is close call and refereed to 3rd umpire how will a 3rd umpire judge his decision since he will be looking at the bails and batsmen bat to give his decision.

  • the_wallster on August 2, 2012, 20:49 GMT

    it has to be said that Finn has been asking for this. You can't get away with little idiosynracies like this at internationl level. To be honest I'm surprised Trott's messing about at the crease hasn't been stamped out either. At least we were able to get some wickets today.

  • on August 2, 2012, 20:45 GMT

    Smith was so badly distracted he hit 2 of the "dead balls" for four. It's another law wholly in favour of already pandered Batsmen. Dreadfull umpiring

  • SurlyCynic on August 2, 2012, 20:45 GMT

    Hilarious to hear so many England fans moaning about 'sportsmanship' today after Finn kept running into the stumps. In 2008 England prevented SA adjusting a defective sightscreen, which was apparently within the rules but some of the most unsporting behaviour I've seen. So to now complain about something that was clearly raised with the umpire before the 'catch' is a bit much.

  • Nampally on August 2, 2012, 20:43 GMT

    There is a return crease (between the Wickets at the non strikers' end & about 4.5 feet away from centre stump, which is marked by a line parallel to the pitch. When ever the bowler crosses this line on either side, it is an automatic "No- Ball" not a "Dead Ball". Finn hitting the wickets with his knee is therefore a No Ball. Umpire Davis should have called it so. By doing so, Finn is also running on the pitch (front foot has to land just outside the line of stumps) creating rough patches on it which also infringes the rules. It does not help the umpire in making an LBW decisions as his vision is partly obscured. So it is bad news all round. If Finn has been doing it for a long time, it is sad that nobody pulled him up. I suppose -"Better Late than Never" applies here!.

  • ooper_cut on August 2, 2012, 20:41 GMT

    Now, this will be the reason that England will lose this match. How much more pommie can you get ?

  • zekie on August 2, 2012, 20:39 GMT

    ICC really needs to look at this and change the rules or initiate a rule. I have played cricket at a very high level and a bowler should not be colliding with the stumps when he is delivering. There is ample room for him to manouvre it should be call a no ball and not a dead ball. The batsman should not be penalized for this which is no fault of his, Greame smith should have his two fours credited to him. Come on Finn stop hitting the stump it's not a difficult thing to overcome if someone say it's not affecting the batsmen they they have never played the game of cricket before.

  • Reagos on August 2, 2012, 20:38 GMT

    Creating rules for every petty instance in the game will indeed erode the element of "spirit of the game" and the role of being a "gentleman" in this sport. If a rule is to be created it should include "one warning per innings and subsequent actions will result in a no ball"...leeway to both bowler and batsman. Lets look forward to Day 2 now!!!!

  • JG2704 on August 2, 2012, 20:37 GMT

    Who knows if it's a ploy or not by Smith to get Finn bowling away from the wicket. Regardless , Smith is perfectly within his rights to make a complaint and I can see how it could be offputting to a batsman. I think the key is that Smith had obviously mentioned this to the umpires before the wicket. I'm guessing it's just unfortunate for Finn that he didn't take the wicket before Smith had mentioned it or indeed took the wicket with a delivery where he hit the stumps

  • gimme-a-greentop on August 2, 2012, 20:36 GMT

    As the law is currently written, I think the umpire interpreted it correctly if the batsman had complained they where being distracted. It's not like he called dead ball only when Smith had nicked it. The repeat offence thing is obviously the point in this instance, as most other bowlers rarely, if ever, hit the stumps, and the umpire used that as the basis for his interpretation. I suppose now they just have to make an actual clause about this specific example.

  • Owais1209 on August 2, 2012, 20:35 GMT

    During play if batsman hit bails, he is out then this should be no ball.

  • ladycricfan on August 2, 2012, 20:31 GMT

    1st two should be called dead ball as a warning to the bowler. From 3rd onwards it should be no ball.

  • SirWilliam on August 2, 2012, 20:31 GMT

    @AdrianVanDenStael: Pollock would often, and quite painfully, dislodge a bail with his bowling hand, a fact which he confirmed on TMS today.

  • cornishcol on August 2, 2012, 20:31 GMT

    law needs to be changed to keep the game moving.Dead ball does nothing to stop bowler repeatedly offending.If a bowler bowls from outside the crease its a no-ball, why should this be any different? The bails would obviously be removed so if a run is taken to bowlers end then a stump should be removed to effect a run out should it arise.Problem solved:)

  • Baundele on August 2, 2012, 20:29 GMT

    The bowler is not expected to break the stumps during the delivery. If they are updating the rule book, they should make it a NO ball. I do not find any valid reason of complaining about today's incident by England. The umpires did find the best possible solution within the laws.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on August 2, 2012, 20:21 GMT

    There is nothing to debate here. Finn knocking the stumps like that IS a distraction, and he should be penalised for it. I agree with some comments that Smith should have been awarded those fours he hit as well. One step to the left please Finn!

  • Bluntman on August 2, 2012, 20:15 GMT

    I gather it'll only be a matter of time before a bowler's grunt becomes an issue as well

  • on August 2, 2012, 20:14 GMT

    What's the bowling coach doing?

  • on August 2, 2012, 20:14 GMT

    whats so hard in bowling without dislodging the stumps. just about 99% of other bowlers don't seem to have a prob with it

  • on August 2, 2012, 20:12 GMT

    I trust the England batsmen will be similarly distracted by Morne Morkel's inability to start his run-up facing them. What goes around WILL come around, and it won't be good for the game.

  • pawaramol22 on August 2, 2012, 20:11 GMT

    Gentlemen need warning before knocking off stumps many times? What a silly comment from James.

  • on August 2, 2012, 19:55 GMT

    There is a reason he does that. The straighter he comes to deliver the ball, the chances of the ball pitching on line with stumps is more. He was chancing his luck and SA rightly appealed for it.

  • Highflyer_GP on August 2, 2012, 19:55 GMT

    @AdrianVanDenStael: don't blame the batsman if the bowler is unable to control himself. McGrath and Pollock, both large chaps, used to get in close as well but never had an issue.

  • the_blue_android on August 2, 2012, 19:54 GMT

    This should be a no ball, not a deadball. Smith lost two boundaries because of the bowler's error. If it's the bowler's error, only the bowler should be penalized not the batsman.

  • Zahidsaltin on August 2, 2012, 19:51 GMT

    It should surely be a noball. Putting aside spirit of the game, just imagine that on last day of a match, a few minuttes before the light makes it impossible to carry on, the bowler who knows that batting side needs 10 runs to win and there is a possibility of 2 more overs to be bowled, can go on breaking the stumps with his legs for next few minnutes and doing so he gets a draw by eating up an over. Either it should be a noball or a pssibility for a warning and another bowler replacing the culprit.

  • on August 2, 2012, 19:50 GMT

    The main question to be asked is "does the bowler knocking down the stumps distract the batsman?" The answer has to be yes....you would have to be inhuman not to take an involuntary glance at the stumps at the far end. Dead ball - as long as the rule applies equally to both sides.

  • on August 2, 2012, 19:49 GMT

    Simple! What business does the bowler have hitting the stumps in the delivery stride? It should be called a no-ball!

  • AyrtonS on August 2, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    Folks, this should be a no brainer, if the bowler disturbs the none striker wicket during his delivery stride it should result in a dead ball. I am sorry for the bowler losing the chance at a wicket but for a cricketer playing at this level, he should know better by now.

  • davidc1984 on August 2, 2012, 19:39 GMT

    Rubhu - surely they've already had far more obvious cases of it disadvantaging both bowler and batsmen in this match? Alex - no idea why you think it should be a no ball, Finn is doing nothing to contravene those laws.

  • AdrianVanDenStael on August 2, 2012, 19:38 GMT

    Finn's habit of getting close to the stumps - which makes it likelier that he will hit the stumps when bowling - increases his chances of getting an lbw, especially against left handers. Smith this has an ulterior motive for complaining about Finn breaking the stumps with his knee when bowling, but is certainly within his rights to complain. I wonder if Middlesex (and England) should also however have considered more carefully the fact that this habit of Finn's also decreases the chances of getting a run out at the non-striker's end whenever he is bowling ...

  • IlMagnifico on August 2, 2012, 19:26 GMT

    The crease is, deliberately so, wide enough to accomodate even an unusually tall lad such as Mr. Finn. If he's running into the stumps with any regularity, he needs to start bowling from mid-off, or at least aim to bowl from there, so he ends up in the vicinity of the crease.

  • Alexk400 on August 2, 2012, 19:00 GMT

    It should be no ball not dead ball.

  • on August 2, 2012, 18:45 GMT

    this should be a dead ball......say the bails were dislodged and it wasnt called a dead ball.....the player hit the ball to the fielder goes for a tight single. The fielder throws to the non strikers end and gets a direct hit.....but the bails are already dislodged....so hence no run out in that situation.....it is a disadvantage to both batsmen and fielding team...

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  • on August 2, 2012, 18:45 GMT

    this should be a dead ball......say the bails were dislodged and it wasnt called a dead ball.....the player hit the ball to the fielder goes for a tight single. The fielder throws to the non strikers end and gets a direct hit.....but the bails are already dislodged....so hence no run out in that situation.....it is a disadvantage to both batsmen and fielding team...

  • Alexk400 on August 2, 2012, 19:00 GMT

    It should be no ball not dead ball.

  • IlMagnifico on August 2, 2012, 19:26 GMT

    The crease is, deliberately so, wide enough to accomodate even an unusually tall lad such as Mr. Finn. If he's running into the stumps with any regularity, he needs to start bowling from mid-off, or at least aim to bowl from there, so he ends up in the vicinity of the crease.

  • AdrianVanDenStael on August 2, 2012, 19:38 GMT

    Finn's habit of getting close to the stumps - which makes it likelier that he will hit the stumps when bowling - increases his chances of getting an lbw, especially against left handers. Smith this has an ulterior motive for complaining about Finn breaking the stumps with his knee when bowling, but is certainly within his rights to complain. I wonder if Middlesex (and England) should also however have considered more carefully the fact that this habit of Finn's also decreases the chances of getting a run out at the non-striker's end whenever he is bowling ...

  • davidc1984 on August 2, 2012, 19:39 GMT

    Rubhu - surely they've already had far more obvious cases of it disadvantaging both bowler and batsmen in this match? Alex - no idea why you think it should be a no ball, Finn is doing nothing to contravene those laws.

  • AyrtonS on August 2, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    Folks, this should be a no brainer, if the bowler disturbs the none striker wicket during his delivery stride it should result in a dead ball. I am sorry for the bowler losing the chance at a wicket but for a cricketer playing at this level, he should know better by now.

  • on August 2, 2012, 19:49 GMT

    Simple! What business does the bowler have hitting the stumps in the delivery stride? It should be called a no-ball!

  • on August 2, 2012, 19:50 GMT

    The main question to be asked is "does the bowler knocking down the stumps distract the batsman?" The answer has to be yes....you would have to be inhuman not to take an involuntary glance at the stumps at the far end. Dead ball - as long as the rule applies equally to both sides.

  • Zahidsaltin on August 2, 2012, 19:51 GMT

    It should surely be a noball. Putting aside spirit of the game, just imagine that on last day of a match, a few minuttes before the light makes it impossible to carry on, the bowler who knows that batting side needs 10 runs to win and there is a possibility of 2 more overs to be bowled, can go on breaking the stumps with his legs for next few minnutes and doing so he gets a draw by eating up an over. Either it should be a noball or a pssibility for a warning and another bowler replacing the culprit.

  • the_blue_android on August 2, 2012, 19:54 GMT

    This should be a no ball, not a deadball. Smith lost two boundaries because of the bowler's error. If it's the bowler's error, only the bowler should be penalized not the batsman.