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MCC happy with Steve Smith catch

Steve Smith was at the centre of the action
Steve Smith was at the centre of the action

MCC has clarified the current application of the Laws of Cricket on 'significant movement' of fielders, which was brought into light by Australia's Steve Smith during a recent One Day International against Pakistan.

MCC confirms that it was approached last month by ICC for clarity and guidance on this matter and that it concluded that the game has naturally evolved and that this aspect of Law 41.7 & 41.8 is worthy of review.

As a result, despite there being no change to either the Laws or Playing Conditions, ICC has communicated to umpires, players and team management that:

"As long as the movement of a close catching fielder is in response to the striker’s actions (the shot he/she is about to play or shaping to play), then movement is permitted before the ball reaches the striker.

"On the day, if umpires believe any form of significant movement is unfair (in an attempt to deceive the batsman), then the Law still applies."

As a result, Smith's actions in catching Fawad Alam after quickly moving from first slip to leg slip when he realised the batsman was shaping to play a sweep shot, were adjudged to be legal by the umpires.

However, while MCC is comfortable with the events, it will be maintaining a watching brief regarding updating this Law for the foreseeable future.

MCC are likely to incorporate this natural evolution within the next update of the Laws of Cricket, but must first thoroughly assess the impact of this change on the game over a period of time before it becomes Law.

The Club is also comfortable with other cricket governing bodies trialling this interpretation of the Law at all levels of the game.

MCC Laws Manager Fraser Stewart said: "Whilst MCC has not yet changed the Law, there is an element of fairness in this interpretation we submitted to ICC. 

"The Law on significant movement was written to prevent under-hand tactics, such as the square leg fielder moving backwards during the bowler’s run up. 

"The skilful anticipation by the fielder, which is in reaction to the batsman’s action, is very different and deserves to be given some leeway. 

"We will closely monitor this area over the next year or two, looking for any potential problems, which will then enable us to write a robust, fair and applicable Law."

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