Howzat for these rule changes in cricket?

Kersi Meher-Homji Columnist

By Kersi Meher-Homji, 9 Jan 2013 Kersi Meher-Homji is a Roar Expert

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    Australian batsman Phil Hughes leaves the field after being bowled. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

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    Enough of rule changes, I imagine you mumble as you eat your cereal, laptop on the dining table browsing The Roar. But please, hear me out.

    A batsman is out – bowled, caught, stumped, lbw whatever – and is sadly returning to the dressing room. But wait a moment, the umpire has made a signal to the TV umpire. Was it a no-ball?

    After several replays we are informed that it was a no-ball, as the back of the bowler’s front foot was not behind the popping crease. The relieved batsman returns, not believing his good luck as the bowler stomps his guilty foot in disgust.

    This happens once or twice a day. The no-ball rule states that a part of the bowler’s front foot must be behind the popping crease. Even touching the popping crease is not good enough.

    This makes the umpire’s job extremely difficult. Remember, he has so many things to do; giving lbw and other hair-line decisions. Unless the bowler trespasses the popping crease by a few centimetres, human eye cannot notice for sure whether the back of the bowler’s front foot had landed behind the popping crease.

    What’s the solution? Here is my suggestion:

    Draw a parallel line 28 cms in front of the popping crease. It should have a metal-magnetic strip and thus be called the met-mag crease.

    The moment the bowler’s front foot touches this met-mag crease, there is an audible “ting” sound, as in tennis.

    To be honest, I am ignorant as to how this is to be achieved but if it can be done in tennis, it can be done in cricket. I suggest Channel Nine, Fox Sports, Cricket Australia and the ICC have a look at my revolutionary (or crazy) idea and consult tennis authorities as to whether this is possible and, if so, how to go about it.

    With new and amazing electronic technologies (snicko-metre, hawke-eye, etc.) now available, this should be experimented with. It is not an airy-fairy idea.

    If we have stump-cam in all internationals and stumps which appear to go in flames in BBL matches, why not a metallic-magnetic line 28cms ahead of the popping crease which goes “ting” every time the front of a bowler’s front shoe (also laced with met-mag) touches it?

    And what a heaven for umpires as also to the batsmen! The moment the batsman hears the “ting” sound he jumps out to hit it, knowing it is a no-ball without waiting for the umpire’s signal (which could be too late for the batsman to react).

    Another rule change as suggested by me:

    By the current rule, a batsman is not given out if the ball is pitched outside the leg stump, even if the ball would have hit the stumps but for the pad.

    If this is clearly outside the leg stump, the umpire is able to judge it and gives the batsman not out for lbw. But if it is a matter of few millimetres outside the leg stump, how can an umpire know for sure? This means another referral to the TV umpire and another waste of minutes.

    The TV ump has the advantage of an imaginary shaded area between the stumps; off-stump on one end to the on-stump on the other end and the other way round.

    My suggestion is: why not have such two vertical lines on the pitch to aid the on-field ump?

    (I realise this might be distracting for the batsmen – too many lines!)

    But if an umpire thinks the ball would have hit the stumps if it had not hit the pad first, why not give the batsman out even if it had landed outside the leg stump? Who started this illogical rule in the first place and why are we continuing with it?

    At the media dinner on Saturday (the third day of the Sydney Test), I asked some cricket journalists on this ruling, namely a batsman cannot be declared out lbw if the ball had landed outside the leg stump even though it would have hit the stumps, and the consensus of opinion was that it was a stupid rule and should be scrapped.

    What do you say; Spiro, David Lord … and other Roarers?

    Kersi is an author of 13 cricket books including The Waugh Twins, Cricket's Great All-rounders,Six Appeal and Nervous Nineties. He writes regularly for Inside Cricket and other publications. He has recently finished his new book on Cricket's Conflicts and Controversies, with a foreword by Greg Chappell.
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