When A Rule Isn’t A Rule…

This may turn into a bit of a rant and yes, it is another sport related blog. But true to my own form, it is the only thing that would bring me back to blogging even if it is in a less active role.

This is in reaction to an incident in the U19 Cricket World Cup being held in Bangladesh. A match that was called a thrilling affair with teams life in the competition on the line, but finishes in what can only be described as an ugly and farcical manner.

http://www.cricket.com.au/news/under-19-world-cup-mankad-west-indies-keemo-paul-richard-ngarava-darren-lehmann-jos-buttler/2016-02-02

A mankad. The biggest leech in cricket today, maybe second to the “15 degrees” rubbish. Now the general purpose behind this ability to run out the non-striker is to remove any chance of “run stealing” whereby a batsman advances down the wicket to reduce the distance for a run to be completed. This rule has been explicitly written in the MCC Laws of cricket, the laws by which everyone plays by. The core of what is cricket.

Law 42.15: Bowler attempting to run out non-striker before delivery

The bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to attempt to run out the non-striker. Whether the attempt is successful or not, the ball shall not count as one of the over. If the bowler fails in an attempt to run out the non-striker, the umpire shall call and signal Dead ball as soon as possible.

<https://www.lords.org/mcc/laws-of-cricket/laws/law-42-fair-and-unfair-play&gt;

Now the part to take note of here is in that first sentence: “… before entering his delivery stride,…” which as those who watch the video will note is not followed by in the U19s match. The batsman has not left his crease until the bowler’s full “back foot” is planted. When this foot hits the pitch, the bowler is deemed to have begun his delivery stride. All should be fine with this scenario, but it gets a little more complicated thanks to our friends over at the ICC.

All games played under the ICC are governed by an additional set of ICC Playing Conditions. For those without a clue, the ICC is the International Cricket Council which overlooks all cricket played between the many cricketing nations around the world. This means a test match between Australia and New Zealand is an ICC sanctioned match. The Old Boys XI vs The Tigers in 15th grade park cricket is obviously not. The ICC Playing Conditions include amendments or additions to the MCC Laws of Cricket. Funnily enough, the ICC completely replaces Law 42.15 with the following:

“The bowler is permitted, before releasing the ball and provided he has not completed his usual delivery swing, to deliberately attempt to run out the non-striker. Whether the attempt is successful or not, the ball shall not count as one of the over. If the bowler fails in an attempt to run out the non-striker, the umpire shall call and signal Dead ball as soon possible.”

<Taken from the ODI Playing Conditions, but is the same across formats: http://icc-live.s3.amazonaws.com/cms/media/about_docs/559921e3b7a49-2%20_Standard_ODI_July_2015.pdf>

The difference here is the point at which the bowler is permitted to run out the batsman. In this scenario, he has that extra time until he completes his delivery swing.

When you have the same scenario being able to be ruled two different ways, you are opening yourself up to confusion and anger over whatever way the decision goes. How can you expect the entire cricketing community to accept something like this when there’s no common ground on how that situation should be dealt with? This is essentially saying you can do something that is against the Laws of Cricket but it’s ok because the ICC says so. Too often there are rules that get changed for ICC sanctioned matches and when these new rules are seen on TV by many people, including ill-informed park cricket players, it starts to seep into those without the knowledge that what you see on the TV is how you play the game. The ICC should continue to govern the game, but not meddle with how the game is played.  This brings me to my biggest gripe, and it is a simple one.

ICC Playing Conditions are ruining the essence of cricket. They are bringing in a second set of rules that your every day cricket player does not play under and should not feel the need to think that it is what they play under. It is ruining the game from the top and it’s now spreading through from the bottom. People may say that it’s only park cricket and it’s no big deal, but if you have a game that has set rules, you play by them. Don’t play under a fabricated set of rules because it’s what you see on TV or hear from someone else. You wouldn’t change the rules in a football (soccer) match to allow strikers to catch the ball with their hands then drop kick it into the goal. Yes, that’s an extreme example but it is the exact same principle. The Laws of Cricket are there for everyone to play under, don’t screw around with that.

Let cricket be cricket.