If you haven’t read Part One of ‘Wide of the Mark’ please do so; the following requires some knowledge of the Wide Law.
So for a ball to be called a ‘wide’ in a game where the Laws of Cricket are being followed, forget about an ICC game as they have their own rules, one basic thing need to happen. The delivery must pass so wide of the batsman that he cannot hit it with a normal cricket stroke. The batsman may move across and bring the ball within reach so he can hit it with a cricket stroke. This delivery is no longer a wide.
The words in the Law ‘normal cricket stroke’ are designed to stop a batsman doing odd things like actual throwing the bat at the ball. That is not a cricket stroke but I had an incident in one of my games that made me ponder ’Cricket stroke? What is a cricket stroke?’
It was down at Bentleigh and their captain Aaron Van Staddin was batting. Aaron was playing several grades lower than his ability would dictate as he was captaining a team of juniors. Aaron was exactly the sort of person that I love as a captain. Under the Laws is it up to the captains to control their player’s behaviour and set the tone for the match. Aaron certainly always did that and outstanding young men like him are one of the reasons that the Merks have so many umpires but this day he made me think.
Aaron was out batting and received a delivery, from a slow off spinner, that pitched well off the pitch on the leg side, and spun further away. Aaron stepped across, attempting to bring the ball within reach. You should be thinking this may not be a wide. As it spun further away he made a despairing swipe at the ball, taking his right hand off the bat to get more extension. He managed to just tip the ball with the end of the bat. The ball gently lobbed to backward square leg where the catch was thankfully taken. (The opposing side knew that Aaron was the best batsman the match).
Aaron immediately walked off, no doubt embarrassed with his shot, but I was thinking “Is this a wide?” I know he hit it but that was not a normal cricket stroke. The delivery could not have been hit with a normal cricket stroke but the Law does contain the word ‘passing’ probably indicating that the ball has to actually pass the batsman.
Aaron walked off to howls of glee from the opposition and I did hear some snide remarks along the lines of ‘captain’s innings’ and ‘shot of the match’ coming from his own players.
The Wide Law does not specifically cover this situation.
This year one of our new umpires came up against the Wide Law.
This umpire did not understand the call and signal requirements. He would so quietly call ‘wide’ I rarely heard his call. This could get my over-count out but while the ball was still live, he would turn towards the scorers, and signal wide. I would usually pick up he had judged a wide as it was my job to keep an eye on the bloke, and an umpire not looking at the play while batsmen are running!!! Heaven help me.
He called wide to a delivery that the batsman obviously had stepped across to. Hard to say definitely from my umpiring position at square leg that the batsman had brought it within reach but I would certainly bet on it. But hang on, worse is to come.
I stand at square leg and give the striker’s end umpire signals that indicate if I think the ball has hit the bat, pad or missed everything. We call it the ‘tic tac toe’. I was signalling leg bye as I thought I heard a wide call from my colleague. The batsmen ran two as it deflected well wide of the fine long leg (crappy wicket keeper. Fine leg was more of a long stop). Once again, while they were turning for the second, he was facing the scorers with his arms outstretched. After the innings was over I made the scorers record three sundries as three wides rather than what they had scored i.e. one wide and two leg byes. Neither was actually correct but wait on a bit, still worse was to come and this time, once again, I had to consult the Laws on a technical point.
He called ‘wide’ but this time the batsman hit the ball for four. Now even this guy realised that this delivery cannot be called a wide but I had to start to think. Does he have to do the ‘revoke’ signal? Does the revoke only pertain to signals and not to calls?
I won’t give my answer to this point. Look up the Laws on the Lords website. Law 3 covers the umpires and the revoke signal, and once again, some unusual behaviour or incidents out in the Merks here in Melbourne, get even this umpire asking: ”What is the Law on that one?”
The season is about over but have a think about umpiring in the Merks next year. As you can see there is always something going on that gets you thinking. The atmosphere in the Merks is completely different to any other association in Melbourne. Yesterday I was down at Monash and had a great day with Delprit who told all and sundry that I gave him out LBW three games in a row. Well, he was the captain, and I love giving captains out LBW. These players are my friends!
We will give you all the training you need and next year you can be out with me at Fawkner Park.