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When is a batsman's leg before wicket? Published: 01 January 2009

When is a batsman's leg before wicket?

The recent Test series between Sri Lanka and India saw the trial of a review system of umpires’ decisions, in which both teams had the chance to ask the third umpire for a confirmation of the facts where they relieved an injustice had been done.

The use of the ball-tracking technologies, such as Hawk-Eye and Virtual Eye, in the trial led to the ICC asking MCC, guardian of the Laws of Cricket, to clarify what constituted pitching and striking the batsman in line with the stumps for lbw decisions.

MCC’s interpretation was that, for pitching outside leg stump, the centre of the ball should be used as the reference point but, for considering whether the ball hits the batsman in line with the stumps, any part of it is used.

The explanation of the difference is that, for pitching in line, physics and common sense dictate that the centre of the ball - that is, the circumference point beneath its centre of gravity - must be the point of impact with the pitch.

The point of impact with the batsman is more complicated, however.

The centre of the ball - in this case the foremost point of it - does not necessarily make contact with the batsman. The edge of the ball could graze the pad but its centre stay outside the line of the pad. But the edge of the ball is sufficient to break the wicket.

So, MCC decided that, if any part of the ball is in line with the stumps, it satisfies the criterion of hitting in line.

The decision is unlikely to change the mindset of standing umpires in all levels of cricket. But with technology becoming increasingly accurate and now being used for officiating purposes, a distinction had to be made.


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