When is a player out, and yet not out? That was the question the umpires had to try and explain to a baffled Australian side this week, during their ODI against India.
The men in the middle handled it perfectly, keeping clam as the rain fell to come to the correct decision – but the ruling confused many, so we at the Home of Cricket wanted to set out exactly what happened, and why.
The situation was this: Indian batsman Hardik Pandya, on strike, skied a full toss to a fielder, who took a clean catch. Pandya began to walk off, bat under his arm. So far, so simple.
However, the fielder, Steve Smith, recognised that the delivery might have been a No ball – having reached the batsman, on the full, above the waist. The quick-thinking Australian captain, thinking there was a chance that the ball was still in play, threw the ball to his bowler, who took the bails off, with Pandya out of his ground, meeting all the requirements for a Run out.
Pandya now looked to have been caught, and Run out – yet after consulting, the umpires ruled he was, in fact, not out at all.
How come? Well, let’s look at the dismissals one by one…
‘The striker is out Caught if a ball delivered by the bowler, not being a No ball, touches his bat without having previously been in contact with any fielder, and is subsequently held by a fielder as a fair catch, as described in 3 below, before it touches the ground.’
So, if the delivery was a No ball, he cannot be out Caught.
That brings us to the next question – was it a No ball? For that we need to look at Law 42.6 (Dangerous and unfair bowling) which includes:
(b) Bowling of high full pitched balls
(i) Any delivery, other than a slow paced one, which passes or would have passed on the full above waist height of the striker standing upright at the popping crease is to be deemed dangerous and unfair, whether or not it is likely to inflict physical injury on the striker.
This was not a slow paced delivery, and the ball would indeed have passed the striker above his waist – the umpires confirmed this with the help of their colleague watching a replay. So it was definitely a No ball, and thus could not have been out Caught.
‘Fine’, we can almost hear you ask, ‘but why was he not out Run out?’. This is where it gets more complicated.
'(a) Either batsman is out Run out, except as in 2 below, if, at any time while the ball is in play,
(i) he is out of his ground
and (ii) his wicket is fairly put down by the action of a fielder.’
At first glance, those conditions appear to have been met. The batsman is out of his ground, the wicket is put down fairly, and it is done so by the action of a fielder.
However, there is another Law that we need to consider – Law 31 (Appeals) and more exactly, 31.7 (Bastman leaving his wicket under a misapprehension). This explains that:
‘An umpire shall intervene if satisfied that a batsman, not having been given out, has left his wicket under a misapprehension that he is out. The umpire intervening shall call and signal Dead ball to prevent any further action by the fielding side and shall recall the batsman.’
Thus, when Pandya left his ground, thinking he was out, the ball should be called Dead – to prevent exactly this kind of dismissal.
He had not tried to make his ground only because he believed he was out Caught – which we have already established he was not – so the ball becomes Dead as soon as the umpire notices, and he should be recalled. With the ball Dead, there can be no Run out.
Credit must go to the umpires, who were spot-on with their decision, and kept their cool in a difficult situation!