ICC World Twenty20 2009 June 11, 2009

Mathews' fielding effort legal, says MCC

Cricinfo staff

Angelo Mathews' acrobatic fielding effort in Sri Lanka's match against West Indies at Trent Bridge on Wednesday conformed to the Laws of Cricket, the MCC has said. Such "brilliant and quick-thinking" acts, it said, are good for the game and should not be deemed illegal.

Mathews was stationed on the wide long-on boundary when, in the 17th over of the chase, Ramnaresh Sarwan lofted Ajantha Mendis in his direction. He caught the ball on the right side of the line but, realising the momentum had taken him backwards, flung the ball in the air before his foot landed over the boundary. Looking up, he saw that the ball would land outside the boundary, resulting in a six, and so picked himself up, jumped and smashed the ball, tennis-style, over the rope and back into play.

It led to a brief hold-up in play with the two on-field umpires - Billy Bowden and Simon Taufel - consulting the third umpire Ian Gould and eventually West Indies were credited with only three runs.

John Stephenson, the MCC's assistant secretary, confirmed Mathews' fielding was deemed legal according to Law 19.3(a)(ii).

"The MCC Laws sub-committee had recently discussed fielding such as this and felt that such brilliant and quick-thinking acts should not be outlawed," Stephenson said. "MCC is happy with the Law as it is written and occurrences such as the one yesterday, while extremely rare, are good for the game of cricket as a whole. It is also pleasing that two of the committee's members were involved in making the correct decision on the field of play."

Law 19.3 (a) (ii) states: A boundary shall be scored and signalled by the umpire at the bowler's end whenever, while the ball is in play, in his opinion - a fielder, with some part of his person in contact with the ball, touches the boundary or has some part of his person grounded beyond the boundary.

View the video here.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Deepak Sitaram on June 15, 2009, 4:01 GMT

    I don't really care whether it was legal or illegal, as a player you have to go with your instincts to save as many or score as many as you can....In sport of any kind, you have to give your 100% when you are in the field of play.It would indeed have been unfortunate if the umpires had ruled it illegal, coz that would deter players from such flashes of brilliance. The game of cricket is changing at such a frenetic pace; it is a good thing that even the officials have to be on their toes to accommodate such rare incidences within the laws. And isn't modern sport about television and viewer ship? If that piece of fielding did not make for great viewing, I do not know, what will!!!

  • Cric on June 14, 2009, 20:46 GMT

    You know what..

    People who say we must appriciate that great feilding effort and think it is legal... They should think again. What do you think if the fielder who hit the ball with his hand from outside the boundary line in the air and some one from his team might have caught it. Would that be a catch? Would the batsman be out in this case?

    The ball is outside the boundary line, it should be Six, no matter if it hits the ground or the fielder outside the line.

  • Amila on June 14, 2009, 7:07 GMT

    As long as the cricketing law allows this kind of fielding it is leagal. is's simple as that. If the MCC says its leagle, as they are the ones who implement the law ,theres no point in arguing. we must appriciate that great feilding effort.

  • Manjuka on June 13, 2009, 8:13 GMT

    I can't understand why people are quoting Harsha Bhogle as if he is some cricket expert. He is just a commentator - was never even a good player. And his statement is stupid - murder is illegal, whether it is ugly or pretty. What Angelo did was legal. May be Harsha would have his big mouth tamed a bit after India's loss :-)

  • SRINI on June 13, 2009, 5:51 GMT

    @Trinione: This is exactly Adam Voges did. And it was considered brilliant by teh commentators then! As the umpires' ruling is final, it is legal. Period. If we have any quarrels we can only ask for change in rules. But, yes, I agree laws need to be made simpler.

  • Thanura on June 13, 2009, 2:22 GMT

    I think most of you guys missed the most important part in the rule. "in his opinion" (in umpires opinion) Since Mathews was in the play when the the ball was delivered and he took the catch, threw the ball up unbalanced and palmed it back into play. The game wasn't disturbed by anything. So the game should continue. (If a spectator disturbs the play the umpire has the right to call it a dead ball or if it is outside the playing area, a six or a boundary.)

    These kind of interesting play shouldn't be illegal. These acts keep the games interest. Otherwise the sport will be boring. Most of the rules are made in batsman's favour. Why do people go crazy when something is in favour of the bowler or the fieldsman.

  • John on June 13, 2009, 1:11 GMT

    What a brilliant piece of fielding. According to the laws of cricket as they're written (in the article itself), it was legal. I wonder if the ICC will consider changing this law though for the second bat-back when Mathews was outside the field of play. I have no problem with it because Mathews started the fielding attempt in the field of play - if he was outside the field of play when the attempt to field the ball started, then that should be illegal. vineetkarthi, we're not playing American football here - the ball or a fielder in contact with the ball has to be GROUNDED over or on the boundary line/rope for a boundary to be called. Read the rules.

  • Iain on June 12, 2009, 23:08 GMT

    Having read through the decision by the MCC, I can only agree - its clever interpretation in the field. The ball in this case only becomes dead when it lands , not crosses the boundary (eg its the difference between rugby and football line calls) so deft fieldwork has prevented a 6, provided the fielder didn't have any part of his body grounded outside the boundary then I can't see the problem ..

    Still not sure whether you could manufacture a catch out of it ... the laws might have something else to say.

  • Trini on June 12, 2009, 21:06 GMT

    It was clearly a SIX! The umpires got it wrong - surprise surprise!

    - So, a fielder is about to take a catch... realises their momentum is going to take them over the line... - Plays hand tennis beyond the boundary - Comes back onto the field of play and claim a catch?

    Give me a break!

  • wecaz on June 12, 2009, 18:47 GMT

    Since the ball had crossed the boundary line in the air, it should be a six. A fielder is allowed to put the ball back in only if "he started his jump from inside the playing area". That is my point of view. Anything else is illegal not innovative.

  • No featured comments at the moment.