The independent voice of cricket

Global T20 Leagues

Boundary law labelled ‘farcical’ after controversial BBL relay catch

by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

A spectacular piece of fielding in the Big Bash League has led to renewed debate over the laws regarding boundary catches, with some feeling a change is needed.

The incident occurred in the 15th over of Hobart Hurricanes’ first innings against Brisbane Heat. Matthew Wade hit Ben Cutting into the deep at long-on, where Matt Renshaw caught the ball, releasing it before stepping over the rope. He then jumped, from outside of the field of play, and palmed the ball to his team-mate Tom Banton, who completed the catch.

Both fielders looked confused initially, with Renshaw making a signal with his arms to indicate it wasn’t out, and the umpires were unsure at first too, with TV umpire Simon Lightbody heard saying it was “not out” on air, before reversing his judgement after another look.

By the letter of the law, the right decision was reached in the end.

Since Renshaw’s first contact with the ball came with his feet inside the field of play, and at no point was a fielder in contact with the ball and in contact with the ground outside of the playing area, the ball was not deemed to have crossed the boundary.

However, the law itself soon came in for criticism, including from New Zealand cricketer Jimmy Neesham. He first labelled the decision a “shocker”, and then when it was pointed at that the laws had been applied correctly, called the laws “farcical”.

Matt Renshaw and Tom Banton combined for a spectacular fielding effort. But should the catch have counted?

“After he touches the ball he needs to end up back in the field of play,” he tweeted. “If that’s not the rule then the whole thing is farcical and the rule needs to change.”

Confusingly, up until a change to the law in 2013, made to encourage displays of athleticism like Renshaw’s, the ‘catch’ would have been ruled as ‘six’ rather than ‘out’. The change has previously come in for criticism by Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, even after he was a beneficiary of the change.

He caught out Liam Plunkett in an ODI at Headingley in 2015, throwing the ball up from inside the field of play, leaving, jumping, and catching the ball in the air before falling back inside the field of play, but because his final contact before catching the ball the second time was outside of the playing area, he felt it shouldn’t have been out.

“I don’t think it makes a whole lot of sense,” Maxwell said back in 2015. “I think you should have to get back into the boundary. I think if you look at the basketball rules you have to jump from inside to throw it back in, you can’t jump up in the air and catch it on the way back in.

“You’ve got to make sure your feet have landed inside the court and I think it should be the same in cricket. While we’re taking catches on our side it doesn’t really bother me, but I know if I was a batsman I’d be pretty upset if that was the dismissal.”

Brisbane Heat went onto secure victory by five wickets, but the debate rages on.

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99