An over-the-waist no-ball by Mohammad Nawaz and three byes off the subsequent free hit in the final over guided India to a last-ball victory against Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last Sunday. While the Indian cricket fans celebrated the team’s victory and Virat Kohli’s fine form with the bat, the over-the-waist no-ball call in that over triggered controversy.
On the eve of England's Super-12 game against Ireland, Jos Buttler was asked to share his thoughts on whether the delivery should be declared a dead ball if a batter is out on a free hit, the England captain admitted that there are a few ambiguities in the system.
“It’s a tough one to work out. There are a lot of laws of cricket which are quite unique. You know, it’s far from perfect,” Buttler said.
Explaining that he can see quite a few flipsides, Buttler said, “Say, the third umpire calls the front foot no-ball, you might get caught at deep mid-wicket and cross for a run, and then you get called back. Then, you go back on strike, and it’s just a dead ball, whereas if the umpire had called a no ball on the field, you wouldn’t have been out, and you’d have scored an extra run,” Buttler said.
“So, that’s maybe something else that is not quite ideal. I don’t think the review system is perfect. Say, you need one to win in the World Cup final and you are given out LBW, and you cross. They have completed a run, and then you review it to find out that you’re not out and it’s just a dot ball. So I don’t think that’s quite ideal, either,” the England captain said.
Elaborating further, Buttler said, “whether it’s a dead ball after a free hit is - again… If you got caught, if you hit it and got caught and run two, that’s fine, but then off the stumps, whether you should be able to run or not, I don’t know.
"I think, whether all of those things can be cleaned up a little bit would be beneficial. But where that ball goes off the stumps, as we saw, India scored three runs off that ball, which is a huge swing in the match.”
“For them, they’d be like, “yes, that’s a perfect rule”. But for Pakistan, it obviously, hurts them,” Buttler said, adding with a smile, “Hopefully it doesn’t affect us…”
Even though there are debates about whether it should have been a dead ball, clause 21.19.2 of the playing conditions clearly says, “for any free hit, the striker can be dismissed only under the circumstances that apply for a no ball…”