MCC's Laws of Cricket Advisor Jonny Singer investigates a controversial incident that occurred in the Women's Big Bash League on Wednesday morning.
The phrase ‘it ain’t over ‘till it’s over’ originates from baseball, but rarely can it have been so apt as in the Women’s Big Bash League clash between the Melbourne Renegades and the Sydney Sixers.
Requiring three to win from the final ball, and two to force a Super Over, the Sixers’ batsman Sarah Aley could only skew the ball to short fine leg and scamper a single. That should have been that – but it wasn’t.
As the Renegades celebrated victory, Aley noticed that the ball had been discarded, but might still be in play, and called her partner, Angela Reakes, through for a second – complete with a dive after the fielders realised what was happening.
After much deliberation the umpires concluded that the second run should count, forcing a tie and a Super Over – but did they get it right in the Laws?
😳 > INSANE! It doesn't get much crazier than this!— Sydney Sixers WBBL (@SixersWBBL) January 3, 2018
Incredibly intelligent cricket from Sarah Aley on the final ball of our innings forces a SUPER OVER against @RenegadesWBBL! 🙈#smashemsixers pic.twitter.com/WG5ofYAMWF
The relevant Law for this matter is Law 20 – Dead Ball. Once the ball is dead, no further runs can be scored – but it isn’t always clear if the ball is dead or in play.
Law 20.1.1 states all the ways the ball can become automatically dead. These are:
“184.108.40.206 it is finally settled in the hands of the wicket-keeper or of the bowler.
220.127.116.11 a boundary is scored. See Law 19.7 (Runs scored from boundaries).
18.104.22.168 a batsman is dismissed. The ball will be deemed to be dead from the instant of the incident causing the dismissal.
22.214.171.124 whether played or not it becomes trapped between the bat and person of a batsman or between items of his/her clothing or equipment.
126.96.36.199 whether played or not it lodges in the clothing or equipment of a batsman or the clothing of an umpire.
188.8.131.52 under either of Laws 24.4 ( Player returning without permission) or 28.2 (Fielding the ball) there is an offence resulting in an award of Penalty runs. The ball shall not count as one of the over.
184.108.40.206 there is contravention of Law 28.3 (Protective helmets belonging to the fielding side).
220.127.116.11 the match is concluded in any of the ways stated in Law 12.9 (Conclusion of match).”
Now, the relevant clause in this case is clearly 18.104.22.168 – the ball is dead if it is finally settled in the hands of the wicket-keeper or of the bowler (Law 22.214.171.124 does not apply here, even though it is the end of the game, because the match would not be concluded until the ball was dead – therefore the match concluding cannot be the cause of Dead ball).
So, when is the ball finally settled? Law 20.2 states: “Whether the ball is finally settled or not is a matter for the umpire alone to decide”. Here, the umpires clearly decided that the ball was not finally settled.
So far, so simple, but, of course, it’s never that easy! There is a further clause that is relevant – Law 20.1.2. This states:
“The ball shall be considered to be dead when it is clear to the bowler’s end umpire that the fielding side and both batsmen at the wicket have ceased to regard it as in play.”
Now it’s helpful to take a closer look at the footage. Clearly, at the point she starts celebrating, wicket-keeper Emma Inglis believes the ball is no longer in play, but Aley, at the non-striker’s end, is turning for a second run.
Inglis discards the ball, and at this point the bowler, Renegades captain Amy Satterthwaite, gestures to her team-mates to pick it up. At this point we have not seen any indication from either batsman over whether they believe the ball is in play – though they have not demonstrated conclusively that they believe it is not – but that doesn’t matter. Clearly there is a member of the fielding side who believes it is still live.
In fact, Aley doesn’t set off for her second run until Satterthwaite is half-way down the pitch – at which point the ball cannot be dead under 20.1.2.
So there you have it, the umpires having decided – quite rightly – that the ball was not finally settled, they had no choice but to allow the run.
Fortunately for the Renegades, their blunder was not punished too harshly, as they won the Super Over – but they will have learned a valuable lesson. It’s never over until the call of Time!