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Ashes 2021/22

Sachin Tendulkar suggests laws of cricket should be changed after baffling Ben Stokes non-lbw

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Sachin Tendulkar has suggested that the laws of cricket should be changed following a bizarre passage of play during the fourth Ashes Test match involving Ben Stokes.

Stokes was given ‘out’ lbw off the bowling of Cameron Green, only for a review to reveal the ball had missed his pad and clipped the stumps on its way through to the wicketkeeper, with the all-rounder offering no shot.

According to law 29.1, “the wicket is put down if a bail is completely removed from the top of the stumps, or a stump is struck out of the ground”. It goes on to clarify that “the disturbance of a bail, whether temporary or not, shall not constitute its complete removal from the top of the stumps”. Therefore, by the letter of the laws as they currently stand, Stokes could not have been given out bowled, or by any other mode of dismissal.

Tendulkar questioned whether any delivery that hits the stumps should be given out, suggesting the introduction of a new law called “hitting the stumps”.

“Should a law be introduced called ‘hitting the stumps’ after the ball has hit them but not dislodged the bails?” he tweeted. “What do you think guys? Let’s be fair to bowlers!”

It is far from unheard of for the ball to hit the stumps without dislodging the bails. It happened five times in the opening 13 games of the 2019 Cricket World Cup, with Virat Kohli criticising the ICC over the prevalence of the normally rare occurrence.

“This is not something you expect at international level,” he said. “You literally have to smash the stumps really hard to knock them out. These are fast bowlers; these are not medium-pace bowlers. No team will like to see that – if you bowl a good ball and you don’t get a guy out.”

There is a wrinkle in the laws which does allow for the umpire to decide if the stumps have been hit when giving a batter out bowled. Law 29.4 states, “If the umpires have agreed to dispense with bails in accordance with Law 8.5 (Dispensing with bails), it is for the umpire concerned to decide whether or not the wicket has been put down. After a decision to play without bails, the wicket has been put down if the umpire concerned is satisfied that the wicket has been struck by the ball”.

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