International Institute of Cricket Umpiring & Scoring
Bowler disturbing wicket
Some of you seem to be undecided about how to react when a bowler hits the wicket, disturbing one bail or both of them, at his end as he delivers the ball.
You may have seen how it was dealt with in the recent test match between England and South Africa in which the umpire, Steve Davis, called and signalled Dead ball after Steven Finn had disturbed the wicket on several occasions by accidentally brushing against it. Many have claimed that the umpire was wrong. MCC have confirmed that he acted within the Laws of the game.
If either umpire believes that the striker – it happened to be the South African captain, Smith, a player of great talent and experience who was, surprisingly, put off by the incident – was distracted, Law 23.4(vi) allows him to call Dead ball, thus preventing either a dismissal or the scoring of runs. After the wicket had been disturbed a few times and Smith had said that he found it distracting, the umpires conferred and informed the players that further disturbances of the wicket would result in a call of Dead ball. It did happen and Dead ball was called.
Unfortunately for England, had it not been for the call of Dead ball, Smith would have been out Caught.
The question being asked is whether a precedent has now been set and all such incidents should result in the call of Dead ball. The answer is NO; a precedent has not been set; whether or not Dead ball is called will depend on the circumstances.
Assuming that no deliberate attempt is made to distract the striker – in which case Law 42.4 would apply – either umpire may choose to apply Law 23.4(vi).
It is not, however, the only way to handle the problem. In the absence of any evidence of the striker being disturbed, the umpires must let play continue normally; there can be no justification for calling Dead ball. If, when the ball is dead, a batsman says that he finds such incidents distracting, the umpire can advise him that, if it happens again while he is facing the bowling, he should back away and make no attempt to play the ball. The umpire will then call and signal Dead ball under Law 23.4(v). It is clear from this that the striker has a remedy in his own hands and action by the umpire is required only if he believes that there was actual distraction or believes that there was a deliberate attempt to distract the striker (Law 42.4). As you would expect, the umpire should not accept a claim by the striker after the event that he had been distracted.
The game has not changed, nor has the way it is played, nor has the way it is to be umpired.
Read more about Law 23.4 (vi) (Dead ball) and Law 42.4 (Fair and unfair play)
We suggest that you visit this website again after the MCC Laws sub-committee has discussed the issue at its next meeting in early September to see if any modifications to our advice are required