No ball rule to blame?

In the wake of the fracas created by that no-ball by Suraj Randiv to Virender Sehwag, which though almost forgotten now, there arose certain interpretations of the rules relating to no-balls which have to be of abiding interest and relevance.

Some of these opinions reported in the press under the heading: ‘Blame it on Rule, not Randiv’ merit special attention. In fact that article invites it: ‘These opinions, instead of blaming Randiv, should raise a healthy debate on the rules of the game,’ it says. These opinions have come from recognized and knowledgeable players of the past.

Javed Miandad, famed for his last ball match winning six and in the process breaking his bat in two, can arguably considered to be quite suitable to comment. He says, “Sehwag certainly deserves those runs,” and “The game is not dead until the ball is on the ground.”

Former Indian cricketers, Bapu Nadkarni, supporting Miandad’s opinion says the umpire’s decision is puzzling him and the no-ball is there to be taken advantage of. Former South African bowler Fannie de Villies says. ‘…the fault lies in the rule’, whatever Randiv may have done it is for his captain to sort it out.

Clearly all three are of the opinion that Sehwag should have been credited with the six. However, a simple and candid interpretation, without being carried away by sentiment or emotion, would suggest otherwise, I guess.A match automatically ends when the opposition total is overtaken even by one run. There cannot be any controversy over this. When Randiv started to bowl, the scores were tie/level. The very instant he delivered that no-ball a run accrued to India’s total, thus passing our total and ending the match. Whatever happened subsequently was of no consequence. A further example or two would help.

Suppose the batsmen, having not heard the ‘no-ball’ call by the umpire or in utter desperation as is usual in such situations, run and one gets ‘run out’; which event would count? The one run for the no-ball will have effectively ended the match and the ‘run out’ does not even exist.

Again, say, the scores are tie and the batsman is on 98.He cleverly places a shot and runs will have ended the match well and truly and those extra runs will not count; the batsman will have to be satisfied with 99 not out – agonizingly though.

When Miandad whacked that six, all six runs were credited to his score and thereby to the total even though less runs than six were required to win. That was because a boundary four or six cannot be broken in parts. It is reckoned in its entirety by virtue of the ball clearing the boundary. And if in the event the batsman too attains a personal target or record, he will richly deserve it.

For all its image and glory as a gentleman’s sport, cricket shows no compassion or sympathy for those who are unlucky; personal achievements and records have to be attained by sheer performance, they don’t arrive as gifts or concessions by relaxing the rules.

M.Z. Abdeen
1/3, Nittawela Road,

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