|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Fantasy||Mobile|
Do not allow today's well-armoured batsmen to get runs when they let the ball hit their bodies rather than their bats
February 2, 2013
There are two batsmen avoiding bouncers in this photo.
On the left is Brian Close, facing Michael Holding at Old Trafford in 1976, with just pads, gloves and, presumably, an abdomen guard for protection.
On the right is Virender Sehwag, facing a South African attack led by Dale Steyn in Nagpur in 2010. In addition to the protective gear Close is wearing, Sehwag has a helmet, an arm guard, a thigh guard and, presumably, a chest protector. His gloves and pads are more cushioned than Close's too.
Once upon a time in cricket, there were valid reasons for awarding leg-byes when a batsman ran after getting hit by the short ball he was trying to avoid. Not anymore: the batsmen of the 21st century are extremely well protected, and not just by equipment.
After Bodyline, umpires were given the power to step in if they felt a bowler was trying to deliberately injure a batsman. Years later a law was introduced limiting the number of fielders behind square on the leg side to two. A bowler could bowl as many short balls as he liked, provided he was not trying to send the batsman to hospital, but there could be no more than two catchers in the quadrant between the wicketkeeper and square leg. Then in the 1990s came the law limiting the number of fast short-pitched deliveries - it is presently two per over.
So while batsmen of yore had to contend with an unrestricted number of short balls, and an unrestricted number of catchers on the leg side waiting for the ball to lob to them off a desperate fend, they were allowed to run leg-byes - if the pain allowed them to - if they had been struck on the body.
Today's batsmen face few such demons. They can even afford to take their eyes off the approaching bouncer, turn their heads, and let the ball ping off the back of their helmets. Mostly all they deal with is a ringing head as they saunter their leg-byes.
It is time the MCC amended Law 26, which deals with byes and leg-byes. It presently reads: "If a ball delivered by the bowler first strikes the person of the striker, runs shall be scored only if the umpire is satisfied that the striker has either (i) attempted to play the ball with his bat or (ii) tried to avoid being hit by the ball."
That last part must go. Batsmen taking evasive action should be treated the same way as batsmen offering no shot, and a dead ball ought to be signalled if they attempt to run.
Perhaps leg-byes should be done away with entirely. Why award extras to a team when the batsman has failed to hit the ball? Cricket's laws and equipment have changed since the time that rule was a necessity.
|Comments have now been closed for this article
Ian Chappell: It's clear that for the ICC votes mean more than results
Tony Cozier: While the 375 had a sense of inevitability to it, the 400 came amid a backdrop of strikes and the threat of a whitewash
Rewind: Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it
Review: Gideon Haigh comes out with another set of essays that sound uncannily prescient about the way the game is headed
Nicholas Hogg: Bat-making as a craft has undergone revolutionary changes and then some since the days of Hambledon
The controversy surrounding the IPL has done little to deter fans in UAE from flocking the stadiums, as they gear up to watch the Indian stars in action for the first time since 2006
ESPNcricinfo picks five players for whom this IPL is of bigger significance
The Plays of the day from the match between Kolkata and Mumbai, in Abu Dhabi
It's difficult to beat a huge talent base exposed to good facilities, and possessed of a long history of competing as a nation
The Plays of the day from the match between Chennai and Punjab in Abu Dhabi
Having the top Associate team play the lowest-ranked Test side without the threat of relegation shows how votes mean more to the ICC than results
Two talented young West Indies batsmen, full of promise when they arrived on the scene, are in danger of falling by the wayside
A coach and former first-class cricketer outlines his vision for how to turn the game around in the UK