March 22, 2013

Permit two run-outs off the same delivery

Take a leaf out of baseball and give fielders a chance to aim for a higher level of achievement

A run-out is the most gut-wrenching of dismissals. It takes place in a segment of play that is removed from the central conflict between bat and ball, creating situations in which you often get executed for no fault of your own. Like any needless death, a run-out is surrounded by an explosive mix of circumstances that are fertile territory for drama, pathos, even farce.

If the intent of sport is to entertain and dramatise, what better way to achieve those aims than to take your most incendiary plotline and turn it up a notch? One run-out is tragic enough. Now imagine two run-out dismissals at the same time.

Here's a typical scenario: Batsman A fails to make his ground and gets run out from an outfielder's smart throw to the wicketkeeper. Batsman B, meanwhile, is also out of his ground (for any number of reasons - ball-watching, mishearing, miscalculating, or just having a plain old brain freeze). The wicketkeeper fires a throw to the bowler, who happens to be well positioned over the stumps and clips the bails to run batsman B out as well.

At the moment this can't happen in cricket because the laws don't allow it. But there is precedent in baseball, where the rules permit something called a double play, in which two batters get dismissed within the same continuous playing action if they are both off base.

It won't take much of a tweak in the laws to recreate this in cricket. All you need is to stipulate that after a run-out the ball isn't dead until the remaining batsman has also made his ground. If he doesn't, he too can be run out. That would result in two stomach-turning dismissals, effectively off the same delivery - the equivalent of a vicious stabbing, followed by a twisting of the knife. As a spectacle, you really couldn't ask for more.

The amendment required will be to Law 23 (dead ball). As presently configured, one of the conditions for the ball becoming dead is if a batsman gets dismissed. This could be rewritten to state that the ball is dead after a batsman is dismissed, except in case of a run-out, when it is not dead until after the remaining batsman has made his ground. If he fails to make his ground, permissible modes of dismissal (most obviously a run-out, but theoretically also obstructing the field) will apply.

This kind of a double-play run-out isn't really as radical as you might think. As a passage of play, it isn't much different from two dismissals off consecutive deliveries, which happens all the time. It even reinforces the basic intent of the run-out law (Law 38), which is to emphasise peril whenever the batsman is out of his ground.

Cricket's version of a double play could even end up being a terrific boost to the art of fielding, because fielders would have a new height of achievement to aim for. The number of double plays executed could become a cherished stat, as coveted by fielders as centuries are by batsmen and five-fors by bowlers. Fielding is the most overlooked part of the game; this could be just thing it needs.

Saad Shafqat is a writer based in Karachi

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • hiDhaval on March 25, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    Why a No-ball for height also declared as 1-bouncer ? this is biased against the bowler. And fundamentally - A legitimate bouncer is the delivery that goes between the shoulder and top of the head. While No-ball is the one that goes over the head ! .. so theoretically too bouncer and No-ball cannot be at the same time!. I wonder why this rule has been overlooked / mis-used so far against the bowler.

  • dummy4fb on March 24, 2013, 0:10 GMT

    Disagree. This would give a free licence to fielders to take a shy at the stumps all the time. The present rule makes them think about the value of the throw,. This is a great judge of how a fielder handles pressure and no way that the rule needs changing.

  • Frankspeaker-USA on March 23, 2013, 19:44 GMT

    Sorry, a bad idea... we hardly have 5-6 batsmen in a team... if a team batting first or chasing a score.... has lost early quick 3-4 wickets and recovering from the early debacle ... players play in pressure there is as a high possibility of a run-out....imagine if there is a mix up while taking a run or both collided and if if both are out of the crease...n both get out (with what u suggested) then they are bowlers left to bat and there remains no balance of competition... it becomes a one sided phenomena.. it only sounds interesting if implied loss to game of cricket :)

  • ColJJ on March 23, 2013, 14:53 GMT

    I am not entirely conviced with the idea that " Ball is not dead after one batter gets run out and other has not grounded his crease. As one end has been lost already, in this case, can the other alone run and earn a score? (i-e ball hits stumps and a batter is has been ran out, whereas ball is deflected with stumps). Of course not. then how can we declare that ball is not dead and a the other end batter can also be ran out?

  • Dirk_L on March 23, 2013, 7:52 GMT

    A good idea for the IPL, Big Bash etc, but please keep it out of serious cricket.

  • IKISM on March 23, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    You cannot hang a guy twice for one lets stick with the law as it is because it sounds pathetic and definitely not in the spirit of the game.

  • manav599 on March 23, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    This is the most dissapointing article on this website. In baseball, the ball isnt dead, so the player running does get the run if he completes it. In cricket, no run can be added after a wicket falls, so there is no point in punishing a batsman for nothing at all.

  • I-Like-Cricket on March 23, 2013, 1:29 GMT

    I honestly thought you could do this. We used to "double run-out" batsmen at school all the time.

  • dummy4fb on March 23, 2013, 0:34 GMT

    what about a catch and a run out as double play. This is actually what happens in Base Ball that you have to retain your bases once the striker is dismmissed through a catch

  • dummy4fb on March 23, 2013, 0:14 GMT

    This could have different effects. Good one is the fact when sometimes we see batsmen in the middle of pitch due to confusion and then themselves deciding whom to sacrifice. The new rule will make them act more positively. I am still OK with the fact that fielders will be even more on lookout, but I am not sure how will this effect the direct-hits. A nice thought, but with all the many runouts going to the TV umpire, Imagine the 3rd, 4th etc umpires needed to decide this and etc etc. And practically, I dont see lot of times we can actually see 2 runouts vs spending time at the 3rd umpire. Lots of fun to think about.