From time to time a topic on the Readers` Forum will generate some debate and, often, there are a range of contrasting views expressed. These usually cover a broad gamut of opinion – from perceptive to ‘ well wide of the mark’!
So, it is important to be aware of what the Laws of Cricket say on the subject.
With the shorter formats of the game – T/20, T/10, the new Hundred - becoming more of a focus in modern cricket, it is clear that ‘dot balls’ are regarded as a minor victory for the fielding side and a ‘negative’ for the batsmen.
As a result of this, there has been a marked increase in non- strikers ‘jumping the gun’ and trying to gain an unfair advantage for themselves. Yes, in the past, when the game was usually played in a more ‘gentlemanly’ fashion, a non-striker could still be Run out in this way. And there was – indeed – a convention that the bowler could stop before delivering the ball and issue a friendly warning to the errant non-striker, well out of his ground, that if it happened again he/she (the bowler) would put down the wicket and appeal.
Another ‘convention’ springs to mind. The batsmen are running and a fielder`s throw accidently hits one of the running batsmen, or his/her bat, and the ball deflects off into the outfield. Sometimes, the batsmen decline to take the extra run on offer, although there is nothing in Law to prevent them so doing. But what if that run is the run required to win the match ? ? Conventions are a double-edged sword !! Conventions only work, if both teams/captains are the good guys.
UMPIRES DO NOT HAVE DISCRETION. THEY MUST APPLY THE LAWS. (or the relevant Competition Regulations).
Those posters who suggested that this is the way to play cricket today, may well ask themselves why we had to introduce the new “Law 42 – Players` conduct”, providing the option for players to be removed from the field of play for a limited period, or permanently, for a much more serious offence. Sandpaper hidden down a fielder`s trousers, grossly offensive ‘sledging’, brawling on the field of play, etc, etc. The way the game is played nowadays has changed irrevocably, and the Laws have to be framed in such a way that there is no ambiguity.
So, back to the argument. In the latest Code of Laws - 2017, MCC decided to clarify this non-striker situation, by including in Law 41- “Unfair play”, a new section - 41.16. “ Non-striker leaving his/her ground early”.
This Law makes it absolutely clear, that if the non-striker leaves his/her ground before the bowler delivers the ball, he/she is liable to be Run out. The non-striker is acting unfairly , or to put it more bluntly is cheating, in an effort to gain an unfair advantage. The old idea, that the bowler is the bad guy is clearly de-bunked here. It is the non-striker who is at fault.
Consider the other end of the pitch. If the striker leaves his ground, misses the ball and is Stumped. Should the wicket-keeper not have put down the wicket and given the striker a friendly warning !!
It may be of interest to the readership to know that the Laws also restrict the improper early movement of a runner, acting for an injured batsman. Obviously this is much more uncommon scenario.
See, new Law 25.7 - “Restriction on the striker`s runner” . This Law makes clear that the runner (who will be running from the square leg position),” may not leave his/her ground until the ball reaches the injured striker or passes the popping crease, whichever is the sooner”.
Clearly, if the runner does leave his/her ground early, it is impossible for the bowler to be able to Run out the runner. So, this situation is monitored by the striker`s end umpire. He/she will , when the ball reaches the boundary or the batsmen have completed one run, Call & signal Dead ball, and then the Bowler`s end umpire will disallow any runs scored (except Penalty runs, not including the ball hitting the helmet on the ground behind the `keeper) and return any not out batsman to his/her original end.