Scenario 1. An unpredictable spinner goes to the crease and delivers a slow, waist-high full throw that batters effortlessly pull off six runs. The referee then raised his arm to indicate that there was no ball, and the field captain complained. who is right
Scenario two. A medium tempo bowler threw another waist-high ball that hit the top of the stumps. The referee didn’t signal. The sent-off batsman grumbled. Then again, who is right?
That old thorny issue – no height – came to mind again a weekend later when it sparked another argument at a cricket match in the village. Simply no other piece of cricket law has generated so much controversy, resentment and resentment. I’ve witnessed (and sometimes incited) arguments, theatrics, and tantrums so badly that the two sides never fought again.
One might think that LBW – and its complex interpretation – would be a major source of contention in country cricket. But off-ball heights do cause discord between teams, though most conflicts can be easily avoided with a quick glance at the codebook.
This problem doesn’t seem to cause problems in any other form of cricket, only country bowlers regularly throw a large number of all-balls. At the higher levels of the game, bowlers often try to master the proverbial trick of getting the ball down the pitch. This is one of the reasons why the relevant laws cause so many problems. It’s never explained on TV or during coaching because it’s so rare in “real” cricket – unlike LBW, which is endlessly analyzed and illustrated by commentators.
Also, the absence of a height ball induces discomfort as it seems to punish incompetence. It rubs its nose inside. For example, suppose the batsman is half a century old and has a powerful weapon. Comes a bad bowler and shoots you far and wide and the ball leaves six. The extra ball and off-ball runs seem unfair because hitters benefit from inaccurate pitches. Worse, if the hitter is caught on the boundary, a no-ball signal will absolve him.
But the real source of controversy is a widespread ignorance of the actual wording of the law. If the pitcher is slow, throwing a waist-high pitch does not count as an empty pitch. Unless the pitch is moderate or fast, the pitch has to be significantly higher—over the shoulders—to be considered illegal.
The key to reading the Highlands Act is to understand that its purpose is to prevent and prohibit dangerous gambling – especially gambling – for reasons of safety and fairness. Fundamentally, it has nothing to do with the batter’s ability to catch the ball (it’s Wides’ law). It therefore falls within the scope of Rule 42.6: “Fair and Unfair Play – Dangerous and Unfair Bowling”.
It reads like this.
6. Dangerous and unfair bowling
(b) Bowling with a high and full ball
(i) Any pitch, other than a slow pitch, that is or would have been higher than the batsman’s waist height in the upright hitting zone, regardless of the likelihood of bodily injury to the batsman, shall be considered dangerous and unfair
(ii) A slow throw that is above the batter’s shoulder height, or would otherwise be, standing upright on the edge of the bat, regardless of the likelihood of bodily injury to the batter, shall be considered dangerous and unfair.
In either case, the referee shall not award a free throw.
Why is such a simple law so often misapplied? Village referees only need to ask themselves three questions.
1. Is the bowler slow?
2. Is the batter on or behind the batting line?
3. Is the ball above hip/shoulder height?
Whether a bowler is slow is arguably a subjective matter. But a good rule of thumb I would suggest is the goaltender position. If he stands up, the bowler slows down and vice versa.
In the first case – a six off the spin ball – the grumpy skipper was right. This ball is perfectly legal. The second – thrown from a full throw – is more complicated. In real life, I’ve seen a lob hit the wicket twice; one didn’t get a grip, the other didn’t. Since a bowler has moderate speed, anything above the waist isn’t actually a ball. So the question is – can the trajectory of the cricket go over the batsman’s waist and still hit the stumps?
The math is as follows. Cricket stumps are 28 inches tall and 4 feet from the pop-up folds. The average male waist measures 42 inches from the ground. In order not to be a ball but to hit a wicket, the ball must land 14 inches over four feet, or 3.5 inches per foot.
Does this match the trajectory the ball has traveled? Assume the pitcher is about 6 feet tall and when he pitches his arm hangs a few inches in the air above the burst crease at the non-batter’s end. This means the ball is released from a height of 9 feet and is 58 feet from the batter. To go over his waist, the ball must fall no higher than 58 feet 65 inches, or 1.12 inches per foot.
In other words, an off-ball hit to the stump sounds unlikely because the trajectory has to change so much in the last four feet of the ball’s travel. But this assumes the player has the exact height I’m describing – and my method is solid. Real life experience has shown that a full pitch can actually go over the waist and still throw the batter out. Square-legged umpires must be aware of this possibility — and pay attention to where the batsman is watching. when he was charged with two