New Zealand v Australia, 1st test, Wellington, 1st day February 12, 2016

ICC committee rules out reviews of wrong no-ball calls


Umpire Richard Illingworth had wrongly called a no-ball for the delivery that had Adam Voges bowled © Getty Images

Reviews of erroneous no-ball calls like that one that reprieved Adam Voges in Wellington have been debated and overruled by the ICC cricket committee, on the basis that the batsman should not be judged on how he played a ball that was ruled illegal before he did so.

The cricket committee debates emerged in the aftermath of Voges' fortunate escape in the final over of the day, when he shouldered arms to Doug Bracewell only to be relieved to see the sight of Richard Illingworth's outstretched arm signalling an illegal delivery. Replays showed that Bracewell had not actually overstepped, but there is no recourse for players to ask that the on-field umpire's call be checked.

Amid widespread dismay at the sequence of events, ESPNcricinfo has learned that the scenario was the subject of discussion at the cricket committee on more than one occasion. A consistent view was maintained that the batsman's action in playing or not playing the ball has to be considered influenced by the call and thus "inadmissable" as a dismissal.

"It's an illegal delivery from the moment the umpire calls it, and the batsman plays it under that assumption," an ICC official said. "[We have] debated this scenario at cricket committee a number of times and each time it concluded that it is not reasonable to retrospectively tell the batsman he was facing a legal delivery, when it was an illegal delivery at the time he played it."

This state of affairs has been complicated for some years by the advent of the front foot no-ball law, which reduced considerably the amount of time between the umpire's no-ball call and the batsman having to play the delivery. Judging the batsman's intent is thus very difficult, but the inability of the umpires to reverse a no-ball call is clear in the minds of the game's custodians.

The ICC cricket committee is composed of a wide group of players and officials, including the chairman Anil Kumble, ICC chairman Shashank Manohar, chief executive David Richardson, Andrew Strauss, Mark Taylor, Kumar Sangakkara, L Sivaramakrishnan, Darren Lehmann, David White, Steve Davis, Ranjan Madugalle, Kevin O'Brien, Ravi Shastri, Clare Connor and the MCC's John Stephenson.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cricinfouser on February 17, 2016, 13:59 GMT

    Hawk Eye. Pure and simple. We've embraced technology elsewhere in our sport let's go to the next step and take the whole debate away. It will also cost the fielding team more runs as they will be penalised for every no ball and not just the ones where there's a wicket.

  • Jason on February 16, 2016, 22:43 GMT

    It's pretty simple so I am not sure why we are even having this debate? Let the batsman play every ball believing it is a fair delivery. The on-field umpire doesn't even look at no balls. If the ball in then determined illegal by the third umpire then it is simple bowled again. If we are worried about the batsman missing out on a free hit... give him a free hit. Just because we have ex-players and umpires on the ICC doesn't mean they make sound logical decisions.

  • Benjamin on February 15, 2016, 5:49 GMT

    Firstly Australia deserved to beat us, we didn't bat well. However this pish posh of ( and this is verbatim) "the batsman's action in playing or not playing the ball has to be considered influenced by the call and thus "inadmissable" as a dismissal" is pretty stupid in this situation. Why would Voges decide not to play the ball from a no ball call? If his decision was influenced by the no ball call wouldn't he consider playing a shot? Knowing he could not be out bowled or caught!

  •   Cuthbert Lucas on February 13, 2016, 14:27 GMT

    The appointment of so called match referees is another act of the ICC which should be rescinded. Infact, I am of the opinion that a thorough investigation of ICC similar to FIFA should be done. Now tell me what is the use /benefit of match referee .Why should old test cricketers only be given that position?. Let the fourth umpire do that or the TV umpire.

  •   Amit Kumar on February 13, 2016, 8:43 GMT

    Review system should be there for wrong no ball calls too..

  • Saleem on February 13, 2016, 7:05 GMT

    The for having no human bowler is not far away....

  • Terry on February 13, 2016, 6:37 GMT

    As WG Grace said after replacing a bail knocked off by a bowler ..... The crowd has come to see Adam VOGES (the Melville Bradman) bat not yet another Bracewell bowl.

  • Rohan on February 13, 2016, 4:32 GMT

    So end of story. It's an unfortunate mistake but those are the rules and they have been well debated. And the committee that determines those rules is populated by a group of people no one should be questioning. Except maybe Shastri! Lol

  • venkataramana rao on February 13, 2016, 3:35 GMT

    The on field umpire shd call the no ball only after the batsman plays it. Simple as that.

    Then there is no batsman intent in question.

    In this scenario, if the umpire has erroneously called a no ball, that can be reversed with 3rd umpire.

  • Joe on February 13, 2016, 3:33 GMT

    Tennis has gone the other way. Some discretion is left to the umpire if a ball is called out and overturned on review. If the umpire believes that the other player had no play on the ball, either an ace or a clean winner, then he can award the point with no replay needed. I see this as more balanced. Clearly Voges' choice of shot was not influenced by the call. To fix the issue of the third umpire calling all no balls, if it isn't clearly obvious on the first replay that it is a no ball, then it is a legal delivery. None of the back and forth, multiple angles, magnification nonsense. If it is not obvious, move on.

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