Wides, switch hits, lbw and forum fairytales.
P L O'Hara
For the past week the CricketEurope Ireland Readers` Forum has majored on one aspect of the North West Cricket Union`s new playing regulations. All the NWCU has done is to bring its regulations, broadly, into line with what the other Provincial Unions have been doing for a number of years.
The Forumites have been focussed on the interpretation of what are commonly referred to as ‘1- day wides’ and how they affect other aspects of the game.
A few helpful and perceptive comments were made, but there were also a number of ‘off the wall’ posts – perhaps mischievous – which bore no relation to the facts and which can only have served to cause confusion among a lot of the readership. It is not possible to respond, individually, to these posters but it is perhaps timely to try and separate fact from fiction.
The Laws of Cricket, which govern all cricket wherever it is played, are just a framework to manage the game. Every local Governing Body makes Playing Regulations under which its competitions must be conducted and these take precedence over the Laws.
1-day cricket, the game we all play, follows similar lines throughout the world, but there are differences in the regulations. Even within Ireland we have differences from Union to Union, but thankfully the gap seems to be closing year on year.
So, let me address Wides first. We are now applying the ‘1-day wide’, which is what we see on the TV. in limited overs cricket. The instruction – and interpretation - is very straightforward, but not absolute!!
Leg side :- If the ball is angled across the striker, regardless of where it pitches, and passes the wicket on the leg side without touching the bat or person of the striker, it will be Called & signalled Wide. (Of course if the striker backs away and the ball passes between him and the wicket, it cannot be a Wide).
Off side :- Here the umpires have the wide line marker – 17” in from the return crease. This is just a guide. If the ball passes outside this and the striker makes no effort to move towards the ball, then it is a Wide. If the striker moves over towards the ball and in the opinion of the umpire, he could have played a normal cricket stroke, or indeed did play a normal stroke but missed the ball, then it will not be a Wide. This judgement is made as the ball passes the striker, but not called & signalled until it passes his wicket. So, for both sides of the wicket, the umpire still has to make a judgement call. It is worth remembering here that a batsman can be Stumped off a Wide and the dismissal and the 1 run penalty both apply. There is one exception to this. If the scores are tied and a Wide is bowled, then the Wide wins the match and the stumping would not stand. This is the reason that the Law states that “.. the ball is considered to have been a Wide from the instant of delivery, even though it cannot be called Wide until it passes the striker`s wicket”.
Switch hits :- When umpires are faced with the increasingly popular switch hit scenario, they are now required to ‘think outside the box’ a little. For example, if one imagines a bowler bowling a good line, in Geoffrey Boycott`s famous ‘corridor of uncertainty’ outside the off stump, then it would be patently unfair for the batting side to benefit from 1 run and an extra ball, just because the striker has reversed his stance and this delivery passes down the striker`s ‘new’ leg side. So, if the striker moves into switch hit mode as the ball is delivered, the umpire will regard both sides of the striker`s wicket as the off side and make a judgement for a Wide ball accordingly. It must be emphasised that this is purely for Wides and not for any other aspect of the game….
…..for example L.B.W. :- The striker`s stance when the bowler starts his run up identifies the leg side and the off side of the pitch, and this does not change thereafter, regardless of any action taken by the striker. He can play a reverse sweep, a switch hit or turn cart wheels for that matter, but the leg side remains the leg side and the Law 36 Leg before wicket is applied exactly as written. This means that if the ball pitches outside the line of the leg stump the striker cannot be L.B.W. – even if the ball would be going on to hit middle stump half way up ! L.B.W. is, of course, still a possibility if the ball pitches outside off stump, provided other criteria are met – but that is for another day.