Sidds, the line doesn’t move

It’s not putting money in the meter because you’ll only be ten minutes. It’s leaving your plastic poncho at home because the rain’ll probably hold off. It’s cutting it fine for your flight because they always let you on. Why do fast bowlers lose wickets to front-foot no-balls? Brett Lee must have done himself out of a couple every year. Yet it’s a penalty that is entirely avoidable at no cost to the bowler’s effectiveness.

Second Test, middle of day 1: cricket fans across the land are recumbent, slipping in and out of microsleeps, hoping not to miss anything exciting. It’s been a long time since Australia’s first three wickets. Then, at twenty to one in the morning, the most satisfying moment of the night: Sidds spreadeagles the pegs of an inattentive Bairstow. Sleepers in the house, and possibly next door, turn in their beds thinking they might have dreamed a war-cry from a distant battle, but it’s only the watcher on the couch. Then comes the moment like the one when you see the pink of the parking ticket, except worse.

Test bowlers are extremely skilled professionals, able to repeat their front-foot placement with remarkable consistency. We see plenty of replays of legitimate deliveries from the quicks, and the front foot, usually toward the heel, is nearly always cutting the line. Crucially, the no-ball is hardly ever illegitimate by more than a few centimetres – Siddle’s, last night, was probably less than one – except for the odd paid job by subcontinental spot-fixers.

So it only requires the bowler to move everything back by about ten centimetres – four inches – and front-foot no-balls would be, to all intents and purposes, eliminated. There would be no significant effect on the bowler’s effectiveness: a little calculation shows that the batsman would have around 1/400th of a second more to see the ball at the average fast bowler’s pace.

Sidds, you know it makes sense. For all our sakes just do it, and tell all your mates.

And don’t get me started about the dribble shot for goal from straight in front…

About Andrew Gaylard

Andrew used to do computers; now he does books and writing. 1963, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2022 were particularly good years in his football-following life.


  1. The Wrap says

    Good analogy Andrew. I jumped on the 109 going down Collins Street the other day and there was this young woman explaining to the inspector that she hadn’t swiped her MYKI because she was only going a few stops.

    Why do they keep doing it – the fast bowlers? I don’t know the answer to that – except that they’re fast bowlers. I can’t remember Glen McGrath ever bowling one – a no-ball. Maybe that says it all.

    But when all said and done, they don’t bowl that many. So why is it that they do when they take a wicket? Could it be that the umps miss a lot – or can’t be bothered calling them? Who knows, but you’re right – like the dribble shot – they’re annoying.

    And whatever happened to roosting the ball up into the third tier at the G from the goal square? Now there was a statement.

  2. aussie80s says

    Don’t be too sure that the line doesn’t move.

    Sidds is certain that it does as he glares at it each time he returns to repeat the dose, unbelieving at where the line is positioned on each occasion.

  3. Well, my question is ? Have any almanackers kept a tally of how many wickets Australian bowlers have taken on no balls over the last few years? For the statistically minded amongst you.


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