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Cap in hand and other aids Published: 01 June 2010

Cap in hand and other aids

Even leading internationals make basic mistakes that cost runs.

During the fourth Test between India and Australia at Nagpur last year, Australia’s wicketkeeper Brad Haddin threw one of his gloves at the ball once he realised it was out of the reach of his dive.

The glove hit the ball and, correctly, the umpires recognised this as an act of illegal fielding and awarded five penalty runs to India.

There is often confusion among cricketers as to what constitutes illegal fielding. A common misconception, for example, is that five penalty runs should be awarded if the ball strikes a fielder’s sunhat, which has accidentally fallen from his head.

Law 41.2 says: "A fielder may field the ball with any part of his person but if, while the ball is in play, he wilfully fields it otherwise... the ball shall become dead and five penalty runs shall be awarded to the batting side.

"The ball shall not count as one of the over."

MCC’s Open Learning Manual clarifies, in some detail, this area of Law as follows:

"‘Wilfully’ is a key word in Law 41.2. Unfortunately it does not have a single simple interpretation.

"The umpire has to recognise different degrees of wilfulness, according to the situation. If a fielder’s cap falls off and the ball touches it, the Law has not been broken and the ball remains in play.

"The same would be true of a pair of spectacles or any other item (difficult to imagine) capable of falling off, except the fielder’s helmet.

"If, however, he had pushed his cap off, or had taken off a sweater, even though he may not deliberately manoeuvre the object to intercept the ball, because he had removed it deliberately he is to be considered as wilfully fielding the ball otherwise than with his person.

"A helmet is to be considered differently. If the ball hits a helmet not being worn, whether it has fallen off or been taken off, it is to be considered that the ball has been fielded unfairly.

"In applying penalties for the unfair fielding, items of ‘clothing’ are to be regarded as carrying a slightly lower degree of wilfulness than helmets.

"If the ball accidentally touches an item of clothing (not a helmet), which has fallen off there has been no breach of Law. The ball remains in play.

"If the ball accidentally touches an item of clothing that has been consciously taken off or a helmet, irrespective of how it has been removed, the ball has been unfairly fielded within the terms of Law 41.3.

"The ball becomes dead, a five-run penalty is awarded but no report is to be made."


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