Virat Kohli recently ended his World Cup century drought, but a controversial non-wide call during the match against Bangladesh raised questions. Could this decision have been influenced by a recent change in the Laws of Cricket introduced in 2022? Let’s explore this crucial moment and the impact of the rule change.
The Crucial Over:
During the 42nd over of India’s chase against Bangladesh, Virat Kohli was on the cusp of reaching his century. India needed only two runs to secure victory, with Kohli’s personal milestone in sight as he stood at 97 not out.
In a thrilling turn of events, Kohli reached his century and sealed the game with a six on the third ball of the over. However, a decision made by the umpire, Richard Kettleborough, caught the attention of cricket enthusiasts. The first ball of the over, delivered by Nasum Ahmed, veered down the leg-side, which traditionally might have been called a wide. Kettleborough, however, refrained from signaling a wide, even sporting a smirk as he kept his arms still.
Many speculated that Kettleborough’s decision was influenced by the desire to give Kohli a fair opportunity to achieve his century rather than making a call that could have impeded his goal. The umpire received criticism for this choice, but it’s essential to consider another factor that may have played a role: a change in the Laws of Cricket introduced in 2022.
Strikingly, this law change was designed to benefit bowlers, but it might have inadvertently assisted a batsman, as was the case with Virat Kohli during that crucial over.
The Law Change:
Before the 2022 law revision, Clause 22.1.1 in the MCC Laws of Cricket addressed the judgment of a wide delivery. It stated: “If the bowler bowls a ball, not being a No ball, the umpire shall adjudge it a Wide if, according to the definition in 22.1.2, the ball passes wide of where the striker is standing and which also would have passed wide of the striker standing in a normal guard position.”
The MCC introduced a new Code of Laws set to come into effect on October 1, 2022. The change aimed to address the fact that modern-day batsmen frequently move laterally around the crease before the bowler’s delivery. The previous law could deem a delivery “Wide” if it passed where the batsman had initially stood as the bowler began the delivery stride.
The Implication of the Law Change:
The updated Law 22.1 considers the position of the batsman. It applies to where the batter is standing when the ball is delivered, where the striker had stood at any point since the bowler initiated the run-up, and whether the ball would have passed wide of the striker in a standard batting position.
An in-depth analysis of the non-wide delivery in question suggests that this law change may have played a role. As the bowler started the run-up, Kohli assumed an open stance, with his front foot positioned noticeably closer to the leg-side than when the ball passed him. A slight shuffle followed as the ball was bowled.
If the ball would have hit Kohli had he remained stationary, then not calling it a wide delivery aligns with the updated law’s criteria.
In summary, while the controversial non-wide call generated debate, the recent change in the Laws of Cricket, introduced to provide more flexibility for bowlers, may have been a contributing factor. This change now considers the batsman’s position at various stages and whether the ball would pass wide of the striker in a standard batting stance. In Kohli’s case, his movement before the delivery may have influenced the umpire’s decision. It’s a reminder of how rule adjustments can impact the dynamics of the game and players’ achievements.