The first ODI between Australia and New Zealand recently threw up one of those strange dismissals where no one quite knows what happened.
It was Australia’s first game after a series loss to South Africa and they were keen to regain stability in Perth. New Zealand’s No.6, Neil Broom, was slowly forging a match-winning partnership with Ross Taylor, chasing 181.
Then Michael Clarke appeared to bowl him with a ball that clipped the top of off stump. But replays suggested the ball had missed the wicket and that the wicketkeeper Brad Haddin’s gloves had dislodged the bails.
Matters were further complicated when replays showed also that Haddin’s gloves had come in front of the wicket. The on-field umpires did not notice either of these points and Broom, unaware of exactly what had happened, walked back to the pavilion.
There are two issues that this dismissal raised in terms of the Laws. The first one will be clear to most cricket followers: the wicket must be put down by the ball for it to be out Bowled.
The second concerns the keeper’s gloves being in front of the stumps. This is clearly a No ball under Law 40.3, which says:
"The wicket-keeper shall remain wholly behind the wicket at the striker’s end from the moment the ball comes into play until
(a) a ball delivered by the bowler either (i) touches the bat or person of the striker or (ii) passes the wicket at the striker’s end or
(b) the striker attempts a run. In the event of the wicket-keeper contravening this Law, the umpire at the striker’s end shall call and signal No ball as soon as possible after the delivery of the ball."
The striker cannot be out bowled from a no ball under Law 24.15.
"Behind the wicket" is taken as meaning behind the imaginary line joining the backs of the stumps at one end.
"Wholly" behind the wicket means that every part of his person, even the tips of his gloved fingers or the peak of his cap, must remain behind.
The wicketkeeper is imprisoned from the moment the ball comes into play (when the bowler starts his run-up) until released by one of the three events stated in Law 40.3.
If the transgression occurs before the bowler has delivered the ball, the call and signal of no-ball are to be delayed until the ball is delivered.
If either umpire notices that a bail has fallen from the striker’s wicket before he has the opportunity of playing the
ball, dead ball should be called immediately (see Law 23.3(b)(iv)).
There was acrimony between the two sides after the game and criticism levelled at the umpires. Umpires get only one chance to see the incident and have a number of other things to monitor. It is very different from seeing the game from various angles in slow and super-slow motion.
When the delivery is seen at full speed, it is understandable the umpires did not spot the infringements.
In the vast majority of cases, they do pick up such incidents first time round.