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

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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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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 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.

Posted by Cricket_Fan_And_Analyst on (March 17, 2013, 6:45 GMT)

Fair enough . If it hits the stumps directly ball should be dead and batsmen shouldn't be allowed to run. Another worse case scenario is when the ball thrown at the wickets hits the batsman's bat and runs away for four. Now a days batsmen are not running an extra run if the ball thrown at the wicket hits the bat , why is it allowed to go for four then - Just declare the ball dead in those cases.

Posted by runout49 on (March 17, 2013, 6:07 GMT)

Why when a batsman gets out in the last over before a break do they go off. Change the rule. The next batsman should come in and the over completed. Unfair on the bowler.

Posted by Tayef55 on (March 17, 2013, 5:36 GMT)

Rightly said. These days batsmen get too many advantages.

Posted by vladtepes on (March 16, 2013, 22:59 GMT)

i agree that the ball should be dead once the wicket is broken, unless it's broken by a fielder stepping on it. no more nonsense of having to pull up the remaining stumps. i mean, what do you do when all the stumps are already down, click your heels three times?

Posted by   on (March 16, 2013, 22:27 GMT)

@snickometer - how can you even say that man. Anyways, here is the answer, that's because when the ball pitches outside leg and hits the pads, the batsman is being beaten because of the human incapacity to see anything on the blind spot. when the ball pitches on the off and hits pads, he is given out because now the batsman is being beaten by a bowler's skill and not because he couldn't have spotted the ball

Posted by   on (March 16, 2013, 21:30 GMT)

Instead of debating on these minor rules, look at Duck worth lewis method.. some one bowled 30 balls without giving runs and now when it comes to D/L method they will erase it easily. instaed of doing so out of 50 overs if they want to reduce to 30 overs consider best 15 overs each from batting and bowling side. every one's effort will be rewarded. cricket is not just statistics, it is the effort and the enjoyment while playing

Posted by ARad on (March 16, 2013, 21:30 GMT)

The runs and wickets in cricket are not merely about brilliance but also about managing risk. You can play all sorts of wonderful shots and get out or bowl an attacking delivery which can go for a six. A fielder going for a direct hit is also taking a risk and he has to live with its outcome despite his brilliance. Take the same example where you have to take two runs to win. Let's say the batsman comfortably made the first nearly suicidal single but the incoming throw, while it dislodged bails, barely brushed the stumps and the fielder who should have collected the throw fumbled it. If the batsmen were to attempt a second single, they would be only be trying to capitalize on that mistake. Why should they be deprived of their run? So the rule should stand as it is now. You can reap the benefit of a run out due to your fielding brilliance but there is always a risk. If we want to change the balance between bat and ball, we should do something about the bat dimensions.

Posted by SnickoMeter on (March 16, 2013, 20:54 GMT)

One rule which has always amazed me is why a batsman cant be given out LBW if the ball has pitched outside leg. When the ball pitches on the batsman's leg, more often than not its an easy scoring opportunity for him. If the bowler still manages to beat his bat and hit his pads right in front of the wicket he should be rewarded instead of being ruled out.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2013, 20:29 GMT)

when a direct throw hit stumps sometimes batsman are in the crease may be even there is no chance to be run out. the law change means its not challenge to the fielder is taken off because regardless of aftereffect all fielders can throw at the stumps. Current law is challenging the fielder for a quick thinking whether i should go for it, its worth a risk of conceding extra run etc. Free hit rule doesn't make much sense because why should a bowler deliver a ball which will only benefit batsman.@funkBoy: Boundary stopping and touching the rope / or spilling a catch and goes for boundary current rule is perfect. you could never imagine how it could treat as a over through. As a batsman i don't like the rule which allow the fielder to stand outside the rope and jump in and catch the ball. which is in essentially extending the boundary because if you are inside boundary rope you will not be able to touch the ball because of the height but few inches outside the boundary you will.

Posted by GlobalCricketLover on (March 16, 2013, 19:34 GMT)

To me this one is not as big an issue. As many objectives views mentioned, it could be argued the other way too. However, we should remove leg byes for sure. There is no reason to credit an extra run when the batsman hasn't managed to put bat to ball. Whether it comes off the helmet or his body or his pads, armguards whatever... there should be no run! I am ok with byes/wides/noballs though..

Posted by   on (March 16, 2013, 18:17 GMT)

rule I would change is that if the ball hits the boundary it is 4 runs; if a fielder prevents the ball from hitting the boundary, even if he's in contact with the boundary at the time, it is not 4.

overthrows following a direct hit is fine by me, the possible run penalty is part of the judgement call for the fielder innit - gotta be confident and sure you're gonna beat the batsman, because if you don't it's free runs (which I agree should be fielding extras)...

Posted by ajayjamaica on (March 16, 2013, 17:38 GMT)

Sambit - if it was "an act of brilliance" he would have run him out by a fraction. It can only be termed as an effort otherwise. The batsmen running is brilliant to get the single.

Posted by t.feroze on (March 16, 2013, 16:36 GMT)

If the batsman manages to complete the run by a fraction, actually he has done an act of brilliance not the fielder, he should better sharpen his skills to release the ball quicker......., the thing which is actually wrong has not been highlighted by the writer Why should the bowler be penalized for this act...

Posted by Lankanforever on (March 16, 2013, 15:36 GMT)

@tfjones1978 really, the game is already compleax enough man. this would look like a scientists game after your new rules. :D

Posted by andystat on (March 16, 2013, 15:34 GMT)

Isn't it part of the game. Do you take the risk of throwing down the stumps and giving away runs. Most games are about taking risks - do the benefits outweigh the penalties. I don't see the problem. If the ball is not dead the batsman is entitled to run.

Posted by m0se on (March 16, 2013, 15:17 GMT)

Gah, what a terrible idea. By the same logic, edges to fine 3rd man or top edges over the keeper should not be given as runs because it's punishing the bowler's brilliance! The reason overthrows are given off ricochet is because it's consistent with how overthrows works. No need to add layer of if-then-else in the rulebook on overthrows. A batsman's wicket is as huge an incentive as there is in throwing down stumps.

Posted by Shuvrules95 on (March 16, 2013, 14:30 GMT)

@Sambit Bal- A stronger point of view- Not only does the batsman gain extra runs, those extra runs also add to the bowler's tally. Why should the bowler be penalized for an act which he was not even involved in?(unless he throws the stumps down himself). Also why should he be penalized for an act of brilliance by his own fielder?

Posted by   on (March 16, 2013, 14:18 GMT)

It happened in the first match of the 2009 world cupt20 .. when stuard board throw the ball on stumps against netherland and in the end netherland get the historic victory..

Posted by tfjones1978 on (March 16, 2013, 13:23 GMT)

RULES I WOULD CHANGE: (1) When ball hits the stumps/batsmen it is dead if fielding side has touched it. (2) An inside edge where the ball lands infront of middle stump and is going onto hit middle stump after the edge should be out. (3) Wides should be given by (a) distance from stumps, (b) pace of delivery for that level of cricket (c) where the balls lands & is heading and (d) batsmens ability to play the ball. These are the elements of whether a ball is a fair ball or not, not just distance as too many spinners get wide-carded for no reason. (4) Enforced Declaration in tests: First innings this should be 400 runs (usually before Lunch Day 2), other innings this should be lead of 200 runs (eg: at 5/500 in reply to 300 all out). Any wicket remaining is returned in a bonus innings for that team (eg: 5th innings of match: Team A has five wickets, being players 7 to 11). (5) Bowlers must bowl the ball over the shoulder and not around! No slinging actions.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2013, 13:05 GMT)

I wouldn't change the rule for all direct-hits.Some of them do not carry the mark of 'sheer brilliance',rather of poor and shabby judgement.However for the close calls,a change might be welcome.They could have a tight time frame for the ball to hit the stumps and dislodge the bails, after the batsman has found the safety of the crease for sifting the close calls from the tardy and ill advised ones,and those could be called dead as soon as the ball hits the wickets.

Posted by DaveMorton on (March 16, 2013, 13:05 GMT)

I disagree with the article. The fieldsman makes a judgment, and if the batsman is in he has got it wrong. It's not a good throw, it's a poor throw, and one that deserves to be penalised by overthrows. JDReed is right, and right to mention the frivolous, intimidatory throws, too.

Posted by Fragmester on (March 16, 2013, 12:49 GMT)

All runs are a balance between the risk of getting run out and the need for runs. A similar balance holds true for throwing at the stumps. If the fielding side wants to take the chance of getting a run out then there is no reason why the fielding side should be protected from the chance that they fail to run the batsman out by being too tardy. The fielder decided to take on that chance and accepted the risk that the action could result in overthrows. As someone said earlier, fielders seem too keen on trying to throw down the stumps at any time. A bit of thought suggests they might prefer just to hold on to the ball.

Posted by nukzy on (March 16, 2013, 12:32 GMT)

can not agree with this. A batsaman is taking the risk of loosing his wicket when he is attempting a risky runout. vice versa Feelding side should face the risk of giving some extra runs if the batsmen has already made his ground when it is a direct hit. But treating them as extras is fair enough.

Posted by liamhsiemllac on (March 16, 2013, 9:26 GMT)

if a batsman offers no shot, but the ball hits his pad - he can still be run out - the fielders can take a free shy at the stumps because no runs can be scored off it, whether it crosses the boundary or not. The ball doesn't become dead until it comes to rest... It's a point of law few are aware of!

Posted by ygkd on (March 16, 2013, 9:26 GMT)

I've long thought a fielder hitting the stumps should result in the ball becoming "dead" and, thus, the scoring opportunites ceasing. Overthrows for missing the stumps are fine, but deflections off the stumps, unless from the bowler's fingertips on a straight drive, should be off limits to extra runs.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2013, 8:59 GMT)

How about going back to the way cricket was played in the 20th century. Scrap all the rules changed in the 21st, they have been horrendous.

Posted by o-bomb on (March 16, 2013, 8:55 GMT)

I absolutely agree with this idea. From a purely selfish point of view as a bowler I find it incredibly frustrating when overthrows count against me. If the stumps have been hit directly then there's no way the fielding side should be punished for essentially a good piece of fielding.

Posted by KaptaanCricket on (March 16, 2013, 8:37 GMT)

The rule I would change is-BAN IPL along with T20 Cricket!

Posted by JDReed on (March 16, 2013, 8:30 GMT)

Re: GurSinghgur, sudip is correct that if you offer no shot and the ball deflects off of the pads then it is called a dead ball, but if it hits the bat even if you offered no shot then the ball is of course active. Just think of how often you see a batsman attempt to leave it but they under edge I t on to the stumps or to slip, you don't see it being called a dead ball do you!!??

This article is a joke though, of course the batsman should get the extra runs, how often do you see a fielder frivolously throwing at the stumps even though the batsman has never even left the crease, why should the fielder be allowed to get away with that? It's their choice to hurl the ball at the tumps even though it serves no purpose, so they should not be protected for it.

Posted by GurSinghgur on (March 16, 2013, 8:06 GMT)

As posted by 'F' at 6.42 GMT on March 16: "Totally agree . As it really [would] removes indecision in fielders to go for direct hits or not.... ". Oh, come along--in the real world, have you ever heard of a fielder not attempting a direct hit for fear that if he succeeded, it MIGHT result in overthrows. I for sure haven't.

And Sudip, at 3.59 GMT: "...when a batsman offers no shot and if the ball hits the pad (or even bat) runs are not granted and it is considered a dead ball". Since when? Is my knowledge of cricket rules totally out-of-date (as it well may be)? Someone please clarify, is Sudip right or wrong?

Posted by   on (March 16, 2013, 7:38 GMT)

OK perhaps off topic but a rule change like to see in one-dayers and/or Twenty/20 is a batsman given out if he faces a complete over (6 balls) without scoring a run, with the bowler getting credited for the wicket. Be reward for tight bowling and perhaps create some tension as the over nears completion. (I appreciate in reality there aren't that many maiden overs in either form but would give the bowler something when the rules are weighted so muchin favour of the batsmen).

Posted by 200ondebut on (March 16, 2013, 7:15 GMT)

Keep it as it is - there is already too many pointless throws at the stumps. Was this written by Phil Space?

Posted by   on (March 16, 2013, 6:42 GMT)

Totally agree . As it really removes indecision in fielders to go for direct hits or not by which it helps to raise the standards of fielding. I have seen people say so many things when fielding not done properly or miss runout but at same time they brilliance when it gets it right with a result a runout. where is the consistency of sticking to won word. these kind of small improvements in rules would encourage the fielding standards.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2013, 6:37 GMT)

Sambit attempts a direct throw but completely misses the target :)

Posted by PFEL on (March 16, 2013, 6:33 GMT)

No, this rule is fine. Just silly to consider changing it.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2013, 6:28 GMT)

"keep cricket the way it already is. so many rules changing these days" has got to be the most nonsensical, stunted, close-minded, obdurate, regressive, harmful sentiment to apply to the game. If we "kept cricket the way it already is", Tests would be Timeless, there would be no ODIs, batsmen wouldn't wear helmets, and we'd have only five or six Test playing countries. If we "keep cricket the way it already is", there won't BE cricket a generation from now. And we wonder why football is so popular.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (March 16, 2013, 6:24 GMT)

Totally agree on overthrows being sundries. Plus they shouldn't go against the bowler. That's even worse than the batsman getting the runs. And yeah, after the ball strikes the stumps, it should be called dead.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2013, 6:10 GMT)

calm down. keep cricket the way it already is. so many rules changing these days. just scrap t20 lol

Posted by r_sudip on (March 16, 2013, 3:59 GMT)

on the same lines...when a batsman offers no shot and if the ball hits the pad(or even bat) runs are not granted and it is considered a dead ball...however when a batsman takes evasive action on a good bounder(in which also he is not offering a shot) and if the ball hits the helmet or even other parts of the body, runs are granted as "leg byes". Why? Why allow the troubled batsman to change ends?

There are many such oddities in Cricket, in fact one of the most radical change that I have always had in mind was, when batsmen are not forced to bowl why bowlers are forced to bat? Why can't the captain at the time of toss name the players who are going bat(or players who are not going to bat because they are in the team as bowlers). Sure it can make it uneven as say one team can name 6 players to bat and the other 7 or 8. But this can surely provide more edge and help unearth "true" allrounders

Posted by   on (March 16, 2013, 3:40 GMT)

No runs for deflections off direct hits, its a rubbish, fielder throws the ball to the stumps because to get a chance to make batsmen out only if the batsmen tries to take a run, if he hits the stumps and batsmen is in, batsmen might get extra run as over throw, if not then the batsmen gets out. So, the thing is whatever the situation is here, the batsmen is taking risk of loosing his wicket and the prize is a run, either by misfiled or overthrow or hitting stumps and deflecting the ball for extra run.We should not think as penalizing fielder for his effort but giving the batsmen a prize run+extra ((if any after direct hit) for his decision to take a risk.

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Sambit BalClose
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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