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Big Bash League 2022/23

MCC Laws manager: Pre-delivery run out law ‘might need tidying up’ after Adam Zampa controversy

Adam Zampa after attempting a pre-delivery run out in the BBL (L), the MCC logo (R)
Ben Gardner by Ben Gardner
@Ben_Wisden 4 minute read

MCC laws manager Fraser Stewart has admitted some clarification of the pre-delivery run out law might be needed after the controversy surrounding Adam Zampa’s struck-down attempt, but insists that any amendments “wouldn’t be changing the law in any way”.

There was a furore in the Big Bash League after Zampa’s attempted run out of Melbourne Renegades’ Tom Rogers was struck down, with the MCC’s Laws of Cricket in focus.

Law 38.3.1 governs the non-striker leaving their ground early, and reads as follows: “If the non-striker is out of his/her ground at any time from the moment the ball comes into play until the instant when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball, the non-striker is liable to be Run out. In these circumstances, the non-striker will be out Run out if he/she is out of his/her ground when his/her wicket is put down by the bowler throwing the ball at the stumps or by the bowler’s hand holding the ball, whether or not the ball is subsequently delivered.”


Zampa’s attempt was ruled ‘not out’ because he was past the expected point of delivery before removing the bails. However, there were objections that a different interpretation of the law should have seen Rogers given out. In this argument, it is claimed that the key factor in the legality of the run out is when the non-striker leaves his ground, rather than when the run out is effected, and since Rogers left his ground before Zampa’s expected release point, he should have been liable to be dismissed.

Speaking to the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, Stewart acknowledged the potential for confusion, and suggested some rewording might be needed to ensure the MCC’s intention for the law is conveyed clearly.

“I do [understand the objection],” he said. “And we’ve actually been looking at that this week. I can see how people can be confused by that. The first three words in the next sentence are ‘In these circumstances’, which tries to qualify it a bit. But the MCC’s intention has always been clear that, effectively, the run out has to happen before the arm gets up there rather than, if the non-striker leaves before the arm gets up there, the run out can then take place even if it’s later.

“We’ve been looking at that this week in light of this because I think some people are not reading the law wrongly, but they’re not quite getting the emphasis as we would like it. So there’s perhaps a bit of tidying up [needed] there just to make it clear. In our eyes, that wouldn’t be changing the law in any way. It really perhaps is just getting the wording a bit better so that it’s a bit clearer for everyone. But the key thing is, the bowler has to try to effect the run out before the arm gets to the vertical. Once the arm’s got to the vertical, it’s too late for there to be a run out.”

There was also debate over the meaning of the phrase “the instant when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball”, with the MCC issuing a statement explaining their position on the matter: “The point at which the bowler would normally [have] been expected to release the ball has long been defined by MCC as the highest point in that bowler’s action.”

Stewart again suggested a clarification might be in order in the Laws of Cricket.

“We say ‘the expected point of release’ rather than ‘the highest point’, because that’s the way it was drafted at the time. In a future iteration of the law, we might look to clarify that a bit more closely. But I think most people are aware when the expected moment of release is: it’s when the arm gets up there [gesturing], and when the ball is going to come out. We don’t use the word vertical, because not all bowling actions come with a vertical arm. But if you see a bowling action, you know when the ball is pretty much going to be released, and it’s roughly when the ball is up at the top. We use that point because we want non-strikers to try and stay in their ground for as long as possible.

“But we don’t want the one a bit like Zampa did. He didn’t seem to be aware of the law, which is fine, no fingers pointed at him. But what we don’t want is the bowler going through with the bowling action [and then effecting a run out]. Once you see the arm up at the top, and then coming back down, the non-striker has a reasonable belief that the ball will have been delivered by then, and will probably move out of his ground and we don’t want the bowler then coming back round and doing the run out on the way back. That’s not something we want.”

Stewart reiterated the MCC’s stance that the best way to avoid any controversy is for the non-striker to stay in their ground until they see the ball released. “This law, it’s always controversial when it happens, but MCC has been quite firm and hasn’t moved its stance for a while on this. The bowler is often castigated as the villain of the piece. But it’s the non-striker who started all this emotion by potentially leaving their ground early. And MCC’s message to non-strikers has been and will continue to be, this can all be avoided, very simply, if you just stay in your ground a little bit longer, watch when the ball is released, make backing up a bit more of an active thing rather than passive, just meandering out when the bowler is roughly there, just actually focus, watch the bowler’s delivery action, when the ball’s released or the arm is at the top, that’s when you’re safe to leave the ground and you can head out. I think if non-strikers did that, there’ll be far fewer incidents of these and it would all go a bit quieter.”

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