Cricket regulations that could do with a tweak

No free hits

Allowing a batsman to play a legitimate delivery without the fear of losing his wicket goes against the fundamentals of cricket

Aakash Chopra

January 14, 2013

Comments: 52 | Text size: A | A

Virender Sehwag was bowled of a free-hit from Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka v India, tri-series, 3rd ODI, Dambulla, August 16, 2010
No penalty for losing your wicket off a legitimate delivery? © AFP
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The free-hit rule in limited-overs cricket, where a batsman is allowed a free pass following a front-foot no-ball, goes against the fundamentals of the game, which is that the bowler has the right to take a wicket off a legitimate delivery and that the batsman must fear losing his wicket off such balls.

The basic premise of cricket is that an error has consequences, but as a batsman if you make a mistake on a free hit, you will escape punishment.

The no-ball law penalises the bowler for missing the popping crease, even by a tiny amount, by calling the delivery illegitimate and in turn depriving the bowler the chance of getting a wicket. As long as that's acceptable, allowing a free hit to the batsman off the following delivery is unfair.

We don't crack down on batsmen for inside edges or for missing the ball completely, unless, of course, that leads them to legitimately lose their wicket, so why punish bowlers?

Let's not make the game more skewed towards batsmen than it already is.

Cricket is at its best when there's balance between bat and ball. Changing this rule will bring back some parity on the pitch.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by SarfBD on (January 16, 2013, 12:19 GMT)

Agreed. If you over step, the ball is not counted and you are penalized. That's enough and fair. Why punish twice for one mistake? If you allow free hit, then cancel any run scored from a miss-hit.

Posted by McGorium on (January 15, 2013, 16:56 GMT)

@sweetspot: The purpose of the no-ball rule isn't to enable the batsman to take advantage of an illegal delivery (any more than he would a legal one), so that's a specious argument. The no-ball rule is intended to prevent a bowler from dismissing a batsman using unfair methods such as overstepping, chucking, changing the point of delivery (over vs. round the wkt). Having immunity from dismissal off a no-ball is punishment enough for the bowler. There's no need for a run penalty for a 1mm overstepping of the crease. That rule is already harsh as it is. Free hits just rub it in even more.

Posted by SridharKalyan on (January 15, 2013, 15:45 GMT)

Not just the FREE-HIT, there are many such rules that are blatantly skewed to favor the batsmen. Just take a look at some of the 'greats' - and their batting records sorted by scoring patterns during 'power-plays' and outside them. It will be glaring how the artificial fielding restrictions have helped some of them amass the runs they did. Similarly, most batsmen go scot-free playing from outside the batting crease, while bowlers' infringement causes double-jeopardy (as discussed by Akash Chopra here)!! Finally, they even tried to bring in the ropes by more than 5 meters, so that silly hoicks can become huge sixers!!! It has ceased to be CRICKET long back; it is now only a stage-managed circus to cater to entertainment-starved yelling crowds.

Posted by kapsy on (January 15, 2013, 5:07 GMT)

Being somewhat a cricket purist, I didn't like the "free hit" rule in the beginning. As long a sit remains in the shorter formats, I don't really have a problem with it. However, Aakash is right about cricket being a batter's game. Once it becomes equally in favour of bowlers, not only will games become quicker, there will be more frequent action and results.

Posted by MinusZero on (January 15, 2013, 1:49 GMT)

There is no rule to say that the bowler must have his foot nearly over the crease on all deliveries. They can easily go a foot back and make no difference at all to their delivery. There is no excuse for a no ball

Posted by   on (January 15, 2013, 0:53 GMT)

Could not agreed more here. It takes down hardly to run in , run good and land the ball on those prescribed areas, especially when the batsman stands with the best protective gear available. Yet, a small lapse of concentration or a foible in arriving at the crease takes the ball round the fence for a walk. I'm not against to the mini format, but, it changed the attitude of all. Respect bowlers, respect the rules. After all, cricket is not all of batting.

Posted by   on (January 14, 2013, 22:41 GMT)

To make the game even: 1. Batsman edging the bowl should give a catch to a fielder on the next ball. 2. Batsman coming out of crease to hit the ball, if misses, should leave the crease the next ball too. 3. Batsman missing the ball should leave stumps wide open to the bowler on the next ball. Hahaha

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Aakash ChopraClose
Aakash Chopra Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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