Law 41.16 reads: If the non-striker is out of his ground from the moment the ball comes into play to the instant when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball, the bowler is permitted to attempt to run him out.
The language of this law, leaves it open to interpretation but the MCC, the caretaker of laws of cricket, believe that the ‘expected’ time of release has to be when the bowling arm is ‘vertical’.
“What we have said now is that non-striker should stay in his/her ground till the ‘expected’ moment the bowler will release the ball which is pretty much when arm is up at the vertical. So batsmen have to hold their ground till the ball is released,” Fraser Stewart, MCC Laws Manager, had told Wisden a couple of years back.
A closer look at the Buttler dismissal shows that Ashwin’s arm was far from being ‘vertical’ as he turns around, a couple of steps into the delivery stride.
— Adam Collins (@collinsadam) March 25, 2019
However, MCC says that the rule was changed to make it fairer for the fielding side.
“The entering of delivery stride or landing of back foot for the bowlers, which gave batsmen unfair advantage especially in case of slower bowlers. That advantage is significant and we tried to bring the non-striker back into the crease for longer,” Stewart said.
The MCC also believe that since this act is part of the laws, a bowler doesn’t need to give a warning to the batsman beforehand.
“It is a legal form of dismissal in the game, so we can’t say there has to be a warning for it. We have made just subtle change in title of the law as well. The onus is now on non-striker to make sure he holds the ground. We don’t want people to be out this way, but we need to have a law in place otherwise batsmen can back-up as far as they want,” Stewart said.
MCC’s explanation about the law still begs the question if Ashwin’s action was well within the prescribed law or not. The debate over it is likely to continue for some more time now.
First Published: March 26, 2019, 1:41 PM IST