January 14, 2013

No free hits

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

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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