The rules and regulations of cricket are under the spotlight after the thrilling World Cup final which ended in a tie. England were declared World Champions due to having hit more boundaries, despite having lost more wickets. While this rule itself is being criticised, the incident involving four overthrows off the bat of Ben Stokes is also being thoroughly discussed.
Even the most ardent English fan who wanted victory at all costs would have felt uncomfortable about four runs going the way of his team when a throw from Martin Guptill at deep midwicket got deflected off the bat of Ben Stokes and went away to the boundary. Stokes immediately apologised as the etiquette of the game requires that batsmen not take advantage of such a situation. But when the ball goes to the boundary, nothing can be done. The umpires had a long discussion to check if the situation can be rectified but nothing came of it.
But now, retired Australian umpire Simon Taufel, widely regarded as the best umpire of his era and who won the best umpire award five times, has revealed that there was an 'an error of judgment' made by the umpires in awarding all four runs to England off the overthrow.
"It's a clear mistake. It's an error of judgment," Taufel told foxsports.com.au, the website of Australian television channel Fox Sports. The error of the umpires can be understood by looking at the MCC rule that becomes applicable in the type of situation that emerged yesterday.
This rule, 19.8 states, 'If the boundary results from an overthrow or from the wilful act of a fielder, the runs scored shall be:
- Any runs for penalties awarded to either side
- And the allowance for the boundary
- And the runs completed by the batsmen, together with the run in progress if they had already crossed at the instant of the throw or act.
The third condition mentioned here seems to have been forgotten by the two on-field umpires – Kumar Dharmasena and Marais Erasmus. When Martin Guptill delivered the throw, Stokes and his partner Adil Rashid hadn't crossed.
So, England should have been awarded five runs and, much more crucially, Stokes should have been off strike for the next ball. This extra run, coupled with the well-set all-rounder being on strike, arguably, cost New Zealand the game. This is a grave mistake that has cast a dark shadow over what was one of the greatest, if not the greatest match of all time.
However, Taufel didn't criticise the umpires and empathised with their position. "In the heat of what was going on, they thought there was a good chance the batsmen had crossed at the instant of the throw. Obviously TV replays showed otherwise," the former umpire stated.
The Australian went on to praise the two umpires and also disagree with the assertion that this mistake decided the match in England's favour.
"The difficulty you (umpires) have here is you've got to watch batsmen completing runs, then change focus and watch for the ball being picked up, and watch for the release (of the throw). You also have to watch where the batsmen are at that exact moment.
"It's unfair on England, New Zealand and the umpires involved to say it decided the outcome. New Zealand's heartbroken captain Kane Williamson agreed with that sentiment. It was a shame that the ball hit Stokes' bat, but I just hope it doesn't happen in moments like that. Unfortunately that sort of thing happens from time to time. It's a part of the game that we play," he concluded by saying.