Club Cricket Conference

Friday, 20th July 2018

Batsmen await jeopardy from fielding helmets

By Charles Randall

4 January 2017

An oddity in the Laws - that a batsman cannot be given out caught off a fielder's helmet - is likely to be ditched in October.

Law 32 (d) a fielder catches the ball after it has touched an umpire, another fielder or the other batsman. However, it is not a fair catch if at any time after having been struck by the bat and before a catch is completed the ball has touched a protective helmet worn by a fielder.

The MCC's World Committee, a brain's trust of eminent former players, recommended the change during their meeting  in Mumbai in December, saying that catches and stumpings should be allowed, provided the helmet is being worn.

This would include a ball stuck in the grille, so that a dismissal would at least give a fielder compensation for a headache or bruised face.
If the ball strikes a helmet that is not worn, the current rules would continue to apply - five penalty runs to the batting side.

The MCC explained in a statement: "At present, catches and stumpings may be taken off a wicketkeeper’s pads, the use of which is optional, and so it seems unfair that they should not be permitted after hitting a helmet, the wearing of which is often compulsory at many levels of the game. It is felt that balls rebounding off a fielder’s helmet could equally help or hinder the fielding side, and so the suggestion that rebounds off the helmet make catches easier should be disregarded."

Under existing Laws, if the ball becomes  lodged in the wicketkeeper’s pads or a fielder’s clothing, the batsman can be dismissed caught, and the helmet change only underlines this rule.

The committee, chaired by Mike Brearley, made a specific recommendation on bat thickness for the first time.  They asked the Laws panel to limit the edge of a bat to 40mm and the overall depth to 67mm when a new code is introduced in October.

The recommendation resulted from overwhelming evidence that blockbuster bats were spoiling the balance between bat and ball at all levels. In addition,  umpires and fielders were more likely to be injured, and at many club grounds bigger and bigger  sixes could cause legal problems with neighbouring properties. Many would contend that Brearley's committee did not go far enough, as their proposed thickness was still almost three times the size of 'old fashioned' bats.

The MCC said a bat gauge would be introduced to ensure that the new limits were adhered to in the professional game.  In the amateur game a moratorium period will allow players to continue with existing outsize bats for a period determined by the local leagues or governing bodies.

World Committee members attending: Mike Brearley (chairman), John Stephenson (MCC head of cricket), Jimmy Adams, Sourav Ganguly, Rod Marsh, Tim May, Ricky Ponting, Ramiz Raja, Vince van der Bijl.