During Somerset’s LV= County Championship match against Kent at Taunton this week, there was an unusual occurrence that sparked discussion about the Laws of Cricket.
Somerset batter Lewis Goldsworthy played a delivery from Kent’s Jaskaran Singh. The bat made contact with the ball, before the toe of the bat splintered off, hitting the stumps and breaking the wicket. The umpire, however, had already called a No ball.
It was a No ball, because Singh had over-stepped. Law 35.2 (Hit wicket) states that:
“The striker is not out under this Law… [if] the delivery is a No ball.”
So Goldsworthy, correctly, was not given out.
But what if it had been a fair delivery? Well, in that case, as unfortunate as it may seem, Goldsworthy would have been dismissed. Law 35.1 states:
“The striker is out Hit wicket if, after the bowler has entered the delivery stride and while the ball is in play, his/her wicket is broken by either the striker's bat or person as described in Laws 188.8.131.52 to 184.108.40.206 (Breaking the wicket fairly) in any of the following circumstances:
220.127.116.11 in the course of any action taken by him/her in preparing to receive or in receiving a delivery”
That refers us back to Law 18.104.22.168 which says that the wicket can be fairly broken:
“22.214.171.124 for the purpose of this law only, by the striker’s bat not in hand, or by any part of the bat which has become detached”
A part of the bat which has become detached is therefore specifically covered by Law, as is any other part of the striker’s clothing or equipment – with one exception.
That exception is the striker’s helmet, or any part of the helmet that becomes detached. This was specifically excluded from the Law in 2022, because some batters had worried that if they wore certain helmets with neck protectors, those may dislodge and hit the wicket.
In order to allay these fears, and ensure that no player should be disincentivised from wearing the necessary protection on their head, helmets (or indeed parts of helmets) are not able to break the wicket fairly.
Aside from that exception, however, it is the batter’s responsibility not only for his/her body, but for anything he/she holds or wears. If they become detached, and break the wicket, while the batter is in the action of playing the ball, then the striker is out under the Laws.
Unless, of course, the bowler has over-stepped. This was fortunate for Goldsworthy, who avoided what would perhaps have been the most unusual dismissal of the English summer - and he went on to make his first century of the season.
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