We are delighted to announce a brand new series on miCricketCoach: The Umpires Corner in association with the International Institute of Cricket Umpiring and Scoring.
Many times on the pitch (and after the game) we have come to discuss whether a controversial situation should be allowed or not. There are precious few players with a deep enough understanding of the laws for our arguments to be resolved, but many times it's the players who also act as umpires. Now we can consult a team of expert experienced umpires for the answers to those tricky questions.
You can submit your own questions to the umpires here.
In this first article, we examine what happens when a ball takes an accidental deflection from the bat and who is run out when a batter with a runner gets confused.
Obstructing the field?
"Both batsmen set off for a run. The non-striker has made his ground as the ball is thrown in from backward square leg. As the non-striker crosses the popping crease the ball hits his bat and is deflected down toward 3rd man. He turns for a second run and both batsmen complete the second run. Is this obstructing the field? Should the Umpire have called Dead ball and the second run not counted? Does play just continue?"
It would appear, from the way the incident is described, that the contact between bat and ball was purely accidental. If that is the case, then there is no question of obstruction. For the non-striker to be given out Obstructing the field, the obstruction would have to be wilful. The ball does not become dead on hitting the bat, so the batsmen are quite entitled to run and such runs, if properly completed, will be scored. If the obstruction were judged wilful, the non-striker would be given out, on appeal, and only those runs completed before the offence would be scored.
It is quite common for batsmen to observe an unwritten piece of cricketing etiquette in such cases of accidental contact and decline to take further runs. This is to be admired and encouraged, but should they choose not to observe this nicety, the umpires cannot impose it; their first duty is to uphold the Laws of Cricket and they make no such provision. If the batsmen continue to run, such runs as they properly complete will be scored.
What would happen, though, if the batsmen decide not to run in such a circumstance, only to find that the ball runs on towards the boundary?
The ball has not become dead in any of the ways defined in Law 23. However, Law 23.1 says that the ball shall be considered to be dead when it is clear to the umpire at the bowler's end that the fielding side and both batsmen have ceased to regard it as in play. It seems that the batsmen may not regard the ball as being in play, but would they change their minds if a fielder were to recover the ball and, in attempting to throw it to the wicket-keeper or the bowler, give the opportunity for a further run or runs, from which might come the chance of a run out. We cannot tell.
On the other hand, it may be that the fielding side would also regard the ball as no longer in play. If the bowler's end umpire were so to judge, then he would be in order to call Dead ball, but he should leave such a judgement to the last possible moment before the ball reached the boundary. That would ensure that the batsmen's wishes not to profit from the incident were met without compromising any wish on the part of the fielding side to keep the ball in play.
Law 37.1 Obstructing the field (Open Learning Manual Page 114)
“Last season there was an example of how confusing it can be when a batsman is injured and asks for a runner. The injured batsman was on strike, hit the ball and then clean forgot about his injury and limped to the other end. So did his runner. The non-striker didn’t move. So all three were at the non-striker’s end when the ball was thrown in to the wicket- keeper, who broke the wicket and appealed. Who was out?”
The injured batsman was out. The Law states that if he is out of his ground when on strike, as here, he is just as vulnerable to being run-out or stumped at the wicket-keeper’s end as any other striker. As sometimes happens he ran instinctively – thus leaving his ground – having forgotten that he had delegated the ‘running’ to his runner.
Law 2 Substitutes and runners (Open Learning Manual Page 5)
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