A 10-ball over from Jasprit Bumrah to James Anderson, containing four no-balls and several bouncers, sparked a debate over intimidatory bowling and the free-hit law in Test cricket.
Anderson was hit on the helmet by the first ball of the over, with the ball rebounding to gully and Bumrah appealing for a catch. A lengthy delay followed as England’s No.11 was checked for concussion, and when play resumed Bumrah continued with the same line of attack, while also aiming a few yorkers at the base of the stumps which Anderson dutifully dug out.
There were four no-balls bowled in the over, with some of them significant over-steps, and Anderson was struck several more times on the hands and body before the set of six which became a set of 10 was done.
Bumrah came in for criticism for the ploy, with some feeling he was encroaching on law 41.6, which guards against the “bowling of dangerous or unfair short pitched deliveries”.
“The bowling of short pitched deliveries is dangerous if the bowler’s end umpire considers that, taking into consideration the skill of the striker, by their speed, length, height and direction they are likely to inflict physical injury on him/her,” state the laws. “The fact that the striker is wearing protective equipment shall be disregarded.”
If a bowler is deemed to be bowling dangerously by the umpires, under the laws they should be no-balled and given a first and final warning. If they continue to bowl dangerously, they are to be removed from the attack.
Bumrah shouldn't be bowling that to Anderson, it's illegal and even if it was legal, a tactic to injure another player isn't on.
— Clive (@_vanillawallah) August 14, 2021
Bumrah’s repeated no balls were also commented upon, with the quick overstepping 13 times during the England innings. He ended up wicketless.
— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) August 14, 2021
Bumrah : No wickets. No balls.
— Daniel Alexander (@daniel86cricket) August 14, 2021
While few suggested Bumrah was deliberately overstepping to extend his assault on Anderson, some raised the possibility of extending white-ball cricket’s free hit law into the Test arena, to further penalise no balls and to minimise any potential advantage of overstepping.
Don't know how I feel about a guy massively overstepping while bowling 90mph bouncers at a No.11. If nothing else, free hits should be a thing in Test cricket#ENGvIND
— Ben Gardner (@Ben_Wisden) August 14, 2021
If ever there was for a free hit after a no ball in first class cricket, that Bumrah over to Anderson made it.
— David Gauke (@DavidGauke) August 14, 2021
In any case, with Anderson and the India team exchanging words as the day came to a close, it will be intriguing to see the reception Bumrah gets when he walks out to bat in the third innings.
Sign up to The Cricket Draft, powered by Wisden, an all-new, free-to-play fantasy game running alongside The Hundred, to win prizes and compete with your friends.