Cricket regulations that could do with a tweak

No runs for deflections off direct hits

If the ball ricochets off the stumps after an attempted run-out, why should it benefit the batsman?

Sambit Bal

March 16, 2013

Comments: 50 | Text size: A | A

Matthew Hayden survives a run-out attempt off a direct hit, Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, 3rd day, November 25, 2006
A piece of fielding brilliance should not end up costing the bowling side © Getty Images
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Cricket gets bums on the seats, it would be fair to say, because fans, in general, want to see runs being scored, and over the years the lawmakers have erred on the side of awarding extra runs. Thus the leg-bye, the overthrow, the extra for wide, and now the free hit off the no-ball. You are unlikely to ever see a batsman being penalised a run for playing a poor shot.

The idea behind the overthrow is fathomable, and even digestible. If there was no penalty, it would carry the danger of fielders taking to throwing the ball randomly and indiscreetly and slowing the game down. But I would make two changes to the law.

I'd stop awarding the runs to the batsman. Let him earn the runs that he has already run, or the ones he was in the process of running when the throw was made, but the ones that result from overthrows should simply be treated as extras, just as byes and leg-byes are.

What I consider an outrage are overthrows off direct hits. Of course, there is the possibility of a showy fielder strutting his wares with the odd unnecessary throw, or an aggressive bowler throwing down the stumps to show the batsman his place, but to reward the batting side for a genuine direct hit defies every tenet of justice. A throw that misses its mark has every chance of being cut off by a fielder backing up, but you never know where a ball might ricochet to, off the stumps.

Imagine this. Two to win off the last ball. The batsman manages to squeeze the yorker out and scampers a single; a fielder from within the circle hares in, scoops the ball up and throws the stumps down. It's a desperately close call and the replays show the batsman to be in by a fraction. But the ball has been deflected to an unguarded area, allowing the batsmen to sprint the winning second run.

Batsmen get the benefit of the doubt following the principle of justice that an innocent must never be hung. But what sense does it make to penalise an act of brilliance?

Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by guptahitesh4u on (March 19, 2013, 11:31 GMT)

I do not agree to this. The rule is simple, as long as the ball remains in play, the batsmen can score runs of it. Also, think of scenario where a fielder throws the ball and gets direct hit but the batsman is already in the crease. However, at the same time the batsman at the other end is half-way down the crease..so will you allow the fielders to get him out? Or the ball should be declared as not in play? I mean, this things are not as simple as it may sound..making the overthrow rule generic makes things simpler.So IMO, no change as far as this rule is concerned

Posted by Someguy on (March 17, 2013, 20:55 GMT)

@r_sudip - What a bizzare comment... I am at a loss for words. Why would any team weaken their batting lineup by removing batsmen just because they are bowlers? You may as well implement a rule that says that everyone in the team has to take it in turns bowling. Why not make a rule that says everyone has to bowl no more than 5 overs at a time and can't bowl again until everyone in the team has bowled 5 overs.

Posted by Someguy on (March 17, 2013, 20:47 GMT)

@Ax777 - I disagree regarding giving LBW's regardless of edges. The whole point is that you have to be able to say that the ball was going to go on and hit the stumps, if they get a faint edge, it may not deflect it much, so it will probably go on to hit the stumps. A thick edge will give enough deviation to miss the stumps. So where do you draw the line? The line has been drawn at bat hitting ball before the ball hits the pads. It is clear cut, no grey areas, just umpire mistakes. DRS mitigates the umpire mistakes to a certain extent. It's not perfect, but it's better than nothing.

Posted by   on (March 17, 2013, 19:47 GMT)

Other rules I would look to change -

1) once a batsman is seen playing a reverse-sweep OR switch-hit, he has effectively demonstrated that he is capable of treating both sides as leg / off to suit his convenience (blind spot does not apply for him). The LBW & wide rules for such batsmen therefore should treat both sides as off-sides (for the rest of that batsman's cricketing career). 2) since batsmen are legally allowed by the rules of cricket to turn from left to right / right to left to suit their own scoring & showman requirements, bowlers should also be permitted, so long as they do it from the same side of the stumps. 3) eliminate the Mankad as a means of getting a wicket, simply have a no-bat penalty for a batsman who took a premature start the next time he faces a bowler (just as a bowler is penalised for crossing his line when he bowls)- that batsman may not move his bat / feet after the release of the ball for the next ball he faces.

Posted by   on (March 17, 2013, 13:41 GMT)

Actually, the case scenario put forward by Mr.Bal in the last two paragraphs has happened several times for England, usually benefiting their opponents. They're the one team who would wholeheartedly accept the rule change.

Posted by   on (March 17, 2013, 8:49 GMT)

Good article but I disagree. When the ball hits the stumps in the field there's an exciting second or so during which the batsmen need to decide what to do. The atmosphere is heightened just for a moment. Occasionally the batsmen get it wrong and one gets run out at the other end. Additionally, if both batsmen are at the same end and the stumps at that end are broken, you penalise the fielding side by making the ball dead. Each ball in cricket allows an opportunity for a play within a play, and we shouldn't seek to deny drama, even if it doesn't always seem fair. The odd freak occurrence now and then makes the game richer.

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Sambit Bal Editor-in-chief Sambit Bal took to journalism at the age of 19 after realising that he wasn't fit for anything else, and to cricket journalism 14 years later when it dawned on him that it provided the perfect excuse to watch cricket in the office. Among other things he has bowled legspin, occasionally landing the ball in front of the batsman; laid out the comics page of a newspaper; covered crime, urban development and politics; and edited Gentleman, a monthly features magazine. He joined Wisden in 2001 and edited Wisden Asia Cricket and Cricinfo Magazine. He still spends his spare time watching cricket.

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