International Institute of Cricket Umpiring & Scoring
Umpire catches the ball"I was standing in a Durham Coast League match at the weekend when the ball was hit directly at me. I instinctively went to catch it (more out of self preservation than anything else) but pulled out at the last second. The ball struck me on the arm. The fielding captain asked what my decision would have been had one of his team caught the ball after it had struck me. That's the easy one - out. But what should my action been if I had caught the ball?"
It is essential for the umpire to train his reactions so that he moves away from the action and not towards it. Practice helps, but it is the mind that has to be trained.
For obvious reasons the Laws do not cover situations in which an umpire takes an active part in the game. If it were to happen as suggested, then something must be done quickly that is likely to be accepted by the players as being equitable. There appears to be only one satisfactory course of action, that is to call and signal Dead ball immediately, followed quickly by an apology to all around you. The justification for the Dead ball call is that there is no other action that would not risk favouring one side more than the other. In any case, the situation is not all that unlike that in Law 23.1(a)(v) that deals with the ball lodging in the clothing of the umpire. True enough the ball is not in the umpire's clothing, but it has lodged!
The players must, of course, accept the umpire's decision if the match is to continue.
Read more about Law 23.1 (Dead ball) at the MCC website