Preseason musings in the Merks

Had an enjoyable two days out in the Merks, umpiring 20/20 games but today I thought I would go back to our last two umpiring meetings – the two prior to the start of the season.


We spent a great deal of time, in both meetings, on the ‘Mankad’. Trying to get people to understand that the salient part of this mode of dismissal is that the non-striking batsman must stay within the popping crease until the bowler is in that position that he normally delivers the ball. If comes out of his ground before this, he can be run out.


This sounds simple but it is ‘un-umpirable’. Umpires have no idea where the non-striker is when the bowler is about to deliver the ball, as we are looking in the opposite direction i.e. the bowler’s front foot.


This brings up one of my favourite topics. What are the criterions for a successful change to the rules governing any sport? I think there are five, with two each having a strong case and week case.


  1. It must make the game better to play
  2. It must make the game better to watch
  3. The players must eventually favour the change
  4. It must protect the safety of the players (weak case) and should make the players safer (strong case)
  5. It must be umpirable (weak case) and should make the umpiring easier (strong case)


I get bored with the non-thinking AFL fans who parrot, “Leave the game alone”. These people do not realise that all games, at the highest level, constantly evolve as players and coaches constantly exploit the current rules to gain an advantage. This is seen even in online computer games such as Starcraft, when the game controllers tweak the unit power’s and strength’s to bring the game back into balance.


I can remember the unattractive footy in the early Seventies when Hawthorn would crowd everyone into the centre square. The diamond and then square were rule changes that followed all five of the above criteria and so were great improvements to the game.


Soccer needs an offside rule. Without it the default play would be the ‘long bomb’ to the three, seven-foot attackers that would station themselves on the goal line. The beautiful ‘through ball’ would disappear. It would be easier to umpire soccer without an offside rule, and you could dispense with line judges, but only people who would be in favour of it would be people who were seven-foot tall.


I have my own rule change I want to see in footy. I want to ban any pushing with the hands in a marking contest. Easy to umpire and the game would be much better to watch as many more marks will be taken. Everyone loves a good grab, in the goal square, by a full forward.


So, my change to the Mankad situation would be simple. If the non-striking batsman is out of his ground at any time the ball is not dead he is liable to be run out. The batman is trying to gain an unfair advantage and so should run all risks.


So what am I going to do when I have an appeal for a ‘Mankad’ under the current law, given I know I have no way of determining the salient part of this law? It will have to be ‘not out’ all the time and then I will attempt to explain the problem with this law, hopefully at beer o’clock.


The MCC have placed us umpires in an impossible position.




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