The MCC World Cricket committee (WCC) has unanimously agreed that the Law regarding the act of non-strikers leaving their ground early and subsequently being run out is not only correct and necessary but issued a ‘call for calm’ to the global game.
Last month, MCC issued a clarification to the wording of the Law following an incident in which bowler Adam Zampa attempted to Run out non-striker Tom Rogers, in a men’s Big Bash game in early January.
The clarification involved changing the wording of Law 38.3 to deliver better clarity. The Club also issued a Frequently Asked Questions document, which aims to dispel misconceptions on this Law in general. The overriding factor is that there is a simple way that all confusion and controversy around this form of dismissal can be eradicated - by non-strikers complying with the Law and remaining within their ground until they have seen the ball being released from the bowler’s hand.
The WCC, which met at the ICC headquarters in Dubai last week, is now calling for calm across all levels of the game, from the grassroots level of recreational cricket to the elite level, given that the act of running out a non-striker who opts to steal ground is within the Laws of the game.
Part of the discussion in Dubai touched on the growing narrative for the bowler to be vilified for this type of dismissal. The committee members were unanimous in their view that the batter stealing ground is the one breaking the Laws of the game and therefore deserving of recrimination.
They were also in agreement that there is no precedent to require a bowler to give a warning to a batter, confirming they are completely within their right to dismiss the batter on the first occasion they break the Law.
Mike Gatting, Chair of WCC, said: “There have been several high-profile incidents in a relatively short space of time, which has led to there being an increased amount of media coverage on this topic. Whilst this dismissal is in the Laws, it doesn’t have to dominate matches.
“We have seen suggestions that this method of dismissal will be attempted more and more at recreational level and there is the possibility of matches descending into chaos. Whilst attempts may increase in the short term, we would expect batters to learn their responsibilities under the Laws very quickly and drive it out of prominence. Although the wording of the Law has recently been clarified, the timing of when the run out can be attempted is unchanged since 2017, so very little has actually changed.
"The bowler is not the villain here"
“Our stance on this is simple – batters must not steal ground if they do not wish to be given out in this manner. Nor should they be expecting to be given a warning if they do. If all non-strikers only left the popping crease once the ball had been released, there would never be the need for such a dismissal again.
“The game is in a place where it should be able to self-regulate on this dismissal but there needs to be a Law in place, as we can’t have a situation whereby batters are able to gain ground without bowlers being able to do anything about it.”
Kumar Sangakkara, WCC member, said: “The bowler is not the villain here. Every batter has a choice; to stay in their ground, or risk being given out if they try to steal ground. If they choose the latter, they are the ones who are breaking the Law.”
The full list of committee members is as follows:
Mike Gatting - Chair
Jamie Cox – MCC Director (Cricket & Operations)
Sir Alastair Cook