MCC news February 21, 2013

Finn stumps problem to become no-ball


If Steven Finn needed any further incentive to drop his habit of kneeing the stumps in his delivery stride, it has been provided by the announcement that it will in future be called a no-ball. The change to the Laws, rubber-stamped by the the MCC Committee, has been brought about specifically in response to Finn's persistent problem, which the England bowler is still trying to eradicate.

The new ruling will come into effect from October 2013 but it is possible for the ICC to change the playing conditions for international cricket to immediately reflect the Law.

The issue came to wider attention during England's home series against South Africa last summer, after a complaint from the batsmen that it was causing a distraction during the second Test at Headingley. Graeme Smith was caught at slip off a delivery that was called dead-ball by the umpires, as Finn had clipped the stumps at the non-striker's end. At the time, the MCC announced that it would review the Laws.

Although Finn has been working to deal with the problem in his delivery stride, the habit has seen umpires call dead-ball with regularity since last August and cost Finn another wicket during the ODI series in India, when Suresh Raina edged to slip. In his most recent outing, the second ODI against New Zealand, Finn trialled a new, shortened run-up, with four strides removed - but still clipped the stumps at one point during the match.

Until now, umpires only had recourse to Law 23.4(b)(iv) which states a dead-ball should be called whenever a batsman is "distracted by any noise or movement or in any other way while he is preparing to receive, or receiving a delivery".

In practice, Finn has been allowed one warning per series before a dead-ball is called but even this caused confusion on the New Zealand tour, when Finn collided with the stumps during the second ODI and Brendon McCullum hit the delivery for four. The delivery was allowed to stand and Alastair Cook could be heard asking the umpire, Rod Tucker, why a dead-ball wasn't called, as Finn had been warned during the T20 series.

The MCC's head of cricket, John Stephenson, said: "MCC continues to act as a robust guardian of the Laws of cricket, and must ensure that it consults widely within the amateur and professional game before making changes that will affect anyone who plays the game.

"MCC's decision today to make the breaking of the stumps during the act of delivery a no-ball provides clarity to the situation and removes the need for a subjective assessment to be made by the umpire as to whether the striker has been genuinely distracted or not. It also ensures that the striker will still be credited with any runs that he scores from the delivery, and will act as a significant disincentive to the bowler from doing it."

The change was recommended by the MCC's Laws sub-committee, which includes the ICC chief executive, Dave Richardson, and Simon Taufel, the former umpire who is now the ICC's umpire performance and training manager, after discussion with the MCC Cricket committee.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • H on February 25, 2013, 0:10 GMT

    @Jimmy2s (February 22, 2013, 10:08 GMT): You talk about other people missing the point but you have missed it by a greater distance than Peter Siddle does the ball when he aims a cover drive ! It is certainly not about stopping the bowler delivering the ball from an illegal area - the area from where a legal delivery can be bowled is solely determined by the placement of the bowler's feet in his/her delivery stride. To say that "you can't bowl from too straight" [SIC] is nonsense - one of the world's best bowlers, Lasith Malinga, regularly bowls the ball from the line of the stumps quite legitimately

  • Kapil on February 24, 2013, 13:46 GMT

    So will such a no ball result in a free hit?????????????

  • Dummy4 on February 24, 2013, 1:47 GMT

    I have watched Eng vs NZ in T20 World cup. In that match NZ was at the receiving end by calling these deliveries dead. NZ got runs in these deliveries and they were null and void as the ball were called dead. It is the issue bowler creates and for that batsmen should not be penalised.

    In my view law should have been changed during the following match of the same tournament. Why so late, I think ICC is far too late in their decision making process. Even now law will be effective from Oct. What does that mean, let the bowlers continue to enjoy their mistakes with impunity?

  • Colin on February 23, 2013, 20:26 GMT

    @ electric_loco_WAP4...don't watch much cricket do we? Military medium Finn did ok against Aus in the ODIs last year didn't he? Ha ha! I love it when you guys describe your quicks as if they are a better unit than the Windies late 70s/ early 80s. Most are incredibly inexperienced and/or injury prone! The fact Johnson is back in the mix says it all. I reckon 'county trundler' Jimmy Anderson will have more than enough for your top 6 of Clarke + a load of blokes averaging in the 30s.

  • John on February 23, 2013, 14:34 GMT

    I've advocated before for this change, so I welcome it. The situation in the present Eng/NZ series is the worst of both worlds- a dead ball has the potential to penalize either side. The decision had to be made either to ignore it altogether (and then what happens if a bowler mows down all three stumps in an attempt to get closer to the wicket?) or to make it a no-ball and common sense says it should be the latter. Jimmy2s point in the featured comment is dead right.

    Finn bowled exactly one ball in the ODI series with NZ where he clipped the stumps, so he's well on the way to eradicating the problem. There's plenty of room between the stumps and the return crease and Finn, like every other bowler, should stick to the open space. With this decision he has no option, or he will find himself bowling overs which never end!

  • Earl on February 23, 2013, 11:19 GMT

    You are not allowed to bowl too wide of the crease so the opposite should apply.One other point is that he gets hit for four and breaks the stump the batsman gets penalized which is not fair.

  • sam on February 23, 2013, 8:57 GMT

    Just hoping he -Finn- is there for the Ashes - the back to back series -love to see fastest of Eng bowlers bowling his 85 mph ramrod straight ones mixed with S/Wide dross being carved around by the world's best M Clarke to rake up his own set of Bradmanesque scoring stats in the Ashes >70 odd years after the great man himself..... Not even a mention of county trundler Jimmy the 'spearhead' and Broady .... young Aussie bats have some easy pickings and records in the offing ....Add to another Ashes thrashing for the English and cricket couldn't be any more fun!! ...can't wait..

  • John on February 23, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    @jmcilhinney on (February 22, 2013, 12:04 GMT) Sorry , but if a spectator interferes with a batsman's eyeline etc he has time to withdraw from the shot - time he does not have in between Finn hitting the wicket and the ball arriving at him. As I said , I believe that the vast majority would not be put off at all by it and would not have time to be put off by it but as others have put , it is Finn's fault and no one elses. Anyway at least now there are no grey areas

  • RISHI on February 23, 2013, 3:11 GMT

    here goes another one... if the batsman is distracted he can just avoid playing the ball... now if the bowler has any color of hairs apart from black it would be called no ball as it might distract.. why nt let batsmen also decide which ball should a bowler bowl once he has committed a no ball .. and where to not put the fielders..ah...

  • Dummy4 on February 23, 2013, 1:14 GMT

    The MCC decision is the right one. This issue had been debated ad infinitum, ad nausium. No need to add anything more. But the article is biased. It only talks of the wickets which were disallowed, not about the runs denied.