LBW law needs change, Aussie quick out of Ashes, Wild Thing in wilderness, Sunny angry over tactics
Batters get all the perks in cricket, just ask any bowler.
The long-held benefit of the doubt tradition has been eroded in the modern era as technology has made many decisions more black and white.
One of the grey areas that remains in cricket is the LBW law when a batter can be given out if hit outside the line of off stump if they are deemed to not be offering a shot.
That definition should not just mean when they shoulder arms and allow the ball to strike them on the pad.
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Tucking the bat behind the pad as they lurch forward should not be considered playing a shot.
There were a couple of instances on day three when India batters – and it’s not just them who engage in this practice – were adjudged to have been playing a shot even though the willow was safely squirreled away behind the front pad.
Australia’s stand-in skipper Steve Smith specifically asked umpire Richard Kettleborough after an appeal for Cheteshwar Pujara’s wicket was turned down after a Todd Murphy off break thudded into his pads marginally outside the line of the stumps.
This tactic virtually eliminates the chance of popping up a catch to bat-pad but it’s dull and defensive cricket which needs to be discouraged.
The batter gets two bites at the cherry by this being considered “playing a shot”. It’s not. There needs to be intent and if the umpire doesn’t believe the batter is legitimately trying to make contact, they should be given out even if hit outside the line as long as the ball is heading back towards the stumps.
With the home side reaching 2-188 by tea on day three, still trailing Australia’s total by 292, the final two days of this Test are likely to end in any other result than a draw.
Shubman Gill brought up from century just before the break, then Pujara was trapped in front on 42 by Todd Murphy.
Pujara was certainly playing a proper shot when he was dismissed, he was simply deceived by the rookie off-spinner.
Wild Thing on ice
West Australian speedster Lance Morris must be wondering when he’s ever going to get a game for Australia.
Andy Bichel holds the unenviable record of 19 Tests as 12th man but the way he’s going but at least he evened that out with the same number of appearances in a baggy green cap.
The Queensland fast bowler was the unlucky odd man out during Australia’s golden era at the turn of the century, often missing out because Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath were all-time greats and then the likes of Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee, Damien Fleming and Michael Kasprowicz would get the nod ahead of him.
Morris was called into the Australian squad for the second Test against the West Indies at Adelaide in early December.
He was retained for the South Africa series but didn’t make the final XI in Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney despite plenty of speculation that he could be a bolter with Josh Hazlewood and then Mitchell Starc sidelined by injury.
The 24-year-old quick was chosen for the India tour but with fast bowlers thin on the ground and spinners dominating, he has watched Pat Cummins, Scott Boland and Starc get game time while he bides his time.
Morris was officially named the 12th man for the final Test in Ahmedabad among Australia’s touring reserves.
Queensland seamer Michael Neser followed a similar path in recent seasons, spending more than 10 Tests as a squad member before getting his Test debut in 2021 and adding another one at the same venue three months ago.
Morris is likely to be part of the squad selected to tour England in June for the World Test Championship final and the Ashes but will again be on the outside looking in unless there’s an injury to one of the more experienced campaigners ahead of him on the pecking order.
Unless he can snare that elusive baggy green cap in England, he is set to go 14 matches as a squad member waiting in the wings.
Hamstrung Richardson set to miss Ashes
One player who won’t be in action for Australia in England is luckless fast bowler Jhye Richardson.
He has undergone surgery to fix his hamstring after a summer for Western Australia which has been hampered by injury. The 26-year-old, who has played three Tests and 33 white-ball matches for Australia, has not been sighted at international level since June as he has battled to get back to his best after shoulder and heel problems.
Richardson has been ruled out of the IPL where he was due to play for Mumbai and is at long odds to be on the plane to England due to his lack of cricket. He hasn’t played first-class cricket since the start of November and his BBL campaign was curtailed by his hamstring issues.
“Injuries are a big part of cricket, thats a fact. Frustrating? Absolutely,” he posted on social media on Saturday from his hospital bed.
“But I’m now in a scenario where I can get back to doing what I love and work bloody hard to become an even better player than before. One step back, two steps forward. Let’s do this.”
Sunny shirty over field settings
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar was hot under the collar after Australia resorted to a 2-7 leg-side heavy field setting on day three at Ahmedabad.
With the pitch flattening out, Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara looking untroubled as their partnership went beyond 100 and Australia needing a win to draw the series, Steve Smith instructed his spinners to target the pads from around the wicket.
It didn’t work and it’s the kind of negative play that needs to be stamped out of the game, according to Gavaskar.
“There has to be a restriction, you can’t have seven on the leg side,” he said in commentary for host broadcaster Star Sports.
“That’s one of the reasons why the LBW rule (rules not out) for the ball that pitches outside leg stump, because it’s a blind side for the batters.”