MCC has been asked for comment on the 360 degree twirl in the run up of Uttar Pradesh's left-arm spinner Shiva Singh during an U23 match in India recently.
The batsman seemed not to be distracted by the tactic but the umpire, Vinod Seshan, called and signalled Dead ball as the ball was making its way towards the striker.
Weirdo...!! Have a close look..!! pic.twitter.com/jK6ChzyH2T— Bishan Bedi (@BishanBedi) November 7, 2018
So, what is the Law here?
Firstly, the Laws don’t dictate what a bowler’s run-up should look like.
Under Law 21.1, the bowler must state his/her mode of delivery, which seems to have been left arm round the wicket in this case, but does not state how conventional the bowler’s approach should be.
Law 41.4 states:
41.4.1 It is unfair for any fielder deliberately to attempt to distract the striker while he/she is preparing to receive or receiving a delivery.
41.4.2 If either umpire considers that any action by a fielder is such an attempt, he/she shall immediately call and signal Dead ball and inform the other umpire of the reason for the call.
Firstly, it is worth clarifying that the bowler does indeed count as a fielder.
The Law states that the offence is the attempt to distract the striker, rather than the striker actually being distracted. Consequently, it was for the umpire to decide if he felt that the tactic was done as an attempt to distract the striker.
Unless the 360 degree twirl was part of the bowler’s run-up for every ball, the umpire may need to consider whether he/she feels that the twirl was done in an attempt to distract the batsman in some way. This is particularly so if there was no apparent advantage to be gained from the twirl, unlike, for example, the bowler varying the width of the release point or the length of his/her run-up, which are entirely lawful.
Stuart Broad received a warning from the match referee during a match against South Africa in 2009 for pointing at the cover fielder during his run-up, as it was felt to be a distraction tactic.
If the batsman is distracted, he/she is entitled to withdraw from his/her stance and, if the umpire feels there has been a deliberate attempt to distract, then the procedure in Law 41.4 will be followed, including the awarding of 5 Penalty runs.
This will depend on the facts on the day, which the umpire must interpret based on all the evidence.
If the striker has not been distracted, play can continue as normal unless the umpire intervenes and calls Dead ball under either of Laws 18.104.22.168 (when there has been unfair play) or 22.214.171.124 (when Law 41.4 above has been breached.)
Again, this is up to the umpire based on his/her interpretation of the facts on the day.
The umpire in this example felt that Law 41.4 had been breached, but it is not clear from the footage or reports whether or not he awarded 5 Penalty runs to the batting side.