Thursday, August 04, 2011

Pendse on the Legality of the Trent Bridge Test Match

Pushkar Y. Pendse, a graduate student at the University of Maryland, has sent me an interesting take on the legality of the Trent Bridge Test. Please do take a look; comments are welcome. They can also be sent to Pushkar at: pypendse AT gmail DOT com

I have not yet read the piece with sufficient care but I figured I'd get it out there anyway. I hope to do so soon.

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Anonymous LonelyAtCowCorner said...

You can dice and slice ICC rules and arrive at a conclusion. One must. But purely going by the spirit of the game England clearly and convincingly defeated India. That would've happened even if Bell never came back to bat.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Pushkar said...

No two ways about it!! But the only question is whether what they won was a test match or not. Tomorrow if two international teams & umpires decide that for a ball that sails over the boundary a batsman should be awarded 10 runs instead of 6 with everything else remaining the same, the game can still be played. But it can not be called an official test match.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

The relevant rule* is Law 27.8, which governs an appeal being withdrawn and the umpire revoking his decision. In particular the appeal must be withdrawn before the batsman leaves the field. If reading this literally, then clearly Bell left the field, it is also pretty clear that the umpire's decision was made before tea (although this is not quite as directly required by the Laws as Pushkar suggests).

Some would consider the intent of the Law to avoid wasting time more important than a strict limit on what the batsman does. That might be the "spirit of the law", a slightly less problematic concept than the spirit of the game, although still arguable. The clause was probably at least partly inspired by the similar incident in 1974, where the withdrawal took 2 hours, but I'm not sure what to take from that.

The biggest difference between those two interpretations is mainly about how one reads the laws in general, not about what actually happened or this particular law. A third way of seeing it is possible since there is some level of ambiguity, and the facts allow that the conclusion that the umpire's consent to withdraw the appeal before the break remained in place, since the the Law might only require that consent be obtained before the batsman leaves, not that the withdrawal and revocation occur at that time. This reading is slightly contrived, but the result is fairly sensible.

Pushkar also mentions that Law 27.9 allows the umpire to alter his decision, as long as it is done promptly. I think it's even easier to allow this clause to extend over the tea break, as "promptly" is a relative thing, but in any case it is irrelevant, because it has been made quite clear that the decision was revoked but not altered. I think it's worth making that distinction clear.

As for the cheeky suggestion that anything that happened after Bell resumed batting is null and void, I wonder how we decide which transgressions of the laws this remedy applies to. It is true that the laws do not explicitly say that the umpire's decision to allow the withdrawal is final, as they do with the decision answering the appeal in the first place, or even miscounting the number of balls in the over, but it's hard to see how it is so different.

*not really an "ICC Law", rather part of Law 27 as set by the MCC, and unmodified by ICC Standard Test Playing Conditions.

8:51 PM  
Anonymous josef_kaye said...

"These are my two cents" -- that considerably inflates the worth of this analysis.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

JK: Come on, you can do better than that i.e., I think you are capable of actually offering an argument. Go for it.

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Pushkar said...

Here is my response to Jonathan’s comment.
1. They are indeed MCC laws of cricket and not the ICC laws. Thanks Jonathan.
2. Time can be called after the ball is dead, which in case of a dismissal is the event that causes the dismissal. So Jonathan is right in saying that the decision need not come before the tea interval begins but it did come as he points out.
3. I think the clause of 'batsman leaving the field' has more to do with avoiding off-the-field negotiations than saving time (which happened in 1974 as well as 2011). The laws of cricket had had no clause about withdrawal of an appeal before the 1980 code. The 1980 code and the subsequent ones allow for withdrawal of an appeal but only before the batsman leave the field.
4. The law 27.9 doesn’t say how prompt the alteration of a decision should be. But according to the open learning manual:
“As a very rough guide, if a decision of Out was changed by the time the batsman had walked halfway to the boundary, this would probably be acceptable, but not really prompt.”
Moreover, I think revoking of a decision is a subset of alteration. May be I haven’t understood the distinction Jonathan talks about.
5. Lastly, the suggestion that everything after that was out of impulsion. Umpires’ decision to accept the withdrawal even if not in accordance with the laws may be final in this case like in case of miscounting the balls in an over and the infamous blunder in 2007 World cup final. But role of umpires & referee must be discussed in context of the laws. And I think since the clause of allowing the withdrawal of appeal before the batsman leaves the field was added after the 1974 incident, the lawmakers must have taken that into consideration.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Thanks, Pushkar. While I did have fun trying see as many different ways to see the situation as I could, I think any discussion really is about how the umpires apply the laws. In this case, the law was clearly modified to legitimise and regulate withdrawal of an appeal after it has been answered. The resulting limit is possibly in conflict with the fact that there are very few umpires who would ignore such a request that isn't impractical, even in the 1974 case of consular intervention, which probably was intentionally discouraged by the 1980 code. (I'm less sure about the on/off-field distinction, for a couple of reasons.)

The reason for this response in umpires is underlined by what I meant as the one indisputable and yet substantive part of my earlier comment. I agree that when a decision is altered, the first step is to revoke it, and then it is replaced with the altered decision. However, when an appeal is withdrawn, the decision is revoked and not replaced, as the whole point is not that the decision was wrong, but that the umpire no longer has anything to make a decision about.

I think this point (that it is usually up to players, not umpires, to determine when umpires make decisions about dismissals) is worth stressing for more general reasons, but it is also a factor in observing the laws and practice relevant to the withdrawal of this authority.

9:59 PM  
Anonymous josef_kaye said...

Yes, Samir, but what's the use? Which of these two scenarios is more likely here:

1) A terrible miscarriage of justice has occurred, and only the penetrating Pushkar Pendse has seen it. Well, the result of a test match, and potentially the #1 ranking, hangs in the balance. This is no joke! He needs to inform the ICC at once!


2) It's perfectly clear to anyone what happened, and Pushkar Pendse is too too-clever-by-half in an incredibly tedious way.

In simpler words: it's an amateur's move to forget that the rules serve the game, not the other way round.

6:27 PM  

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