40/40 game. Sam’s XI 150/4. Ron’s XI 144 from 39.5 overs – scorecard

My first game of the season was a Beddington intra-club friendly, and the first in a long time. I didn’t umpire anything like as much as I wanted to last season, because it seemed that almost every weekend when I was available for umpiring I either got called away for something else at short notice or it was raining.

The club’s 1st and 2nd XIs had friendly fixtures against other clubs, and this game was intended to be an opportunity for the 3rd and 4th XI players to “blow the rust off”. Accordingly, I was asked to favour the batsmen in LBW decisions so the openers could get some time in the middle. I didn’t have to, as there was only one close call which I wouldn’t have given out anyway. I stood at the bowler’s end throughout, accompanied by players at square leg.

Roughly one in seven runs came from extras, a mixture of wides and byes – clearly the bowlers needed some rust blowing off, not just the batsmen! And while there is a single six in the score book it was actually two runs plus four overthrows, which in my opinion should count as four extras but the High Lords Of Cricket disagree with me. I gave no balls for bowling so wide it wasn’t even on the strip, two for height, and some for overstepping, one of which was also hit for four.

The game was evenly poised until the end. Sam’s XI, batting first, were 118/4 at the end of their 33rd over, and Ron’s XI were only marginally behind the required run-rate, with 113 runs, at the same point in their innings. However, Ron’s XI had lost more wickets in getting there, and while the tail-enders actually managed to keep scoring fast enough, they couldn’t also defend their wickets at the same time and when Sam brought his opening bowlers back on for the last four overs the last three wickets fell quickly.

In post-match discussion people were sure that I’d got it wrong with the beamers and should have warned the bowler for his first one, and then asked the captain to replace him after his second one. I was fairly sure I was right, but not 100% sure and admitted that I may have got it wrong. However, I have now checked the scriptures. Law 41.7.1 says that such a delivery is unfair and as such a No Ball. Dangerous play is then covered in law 41.7.2, but says such a ball is “also dangerous if the bowler’s end umpire considers that there is a risk of injury to the striker“, and that the umpire should take into account the manner of delivery, the skill of the batsman, and whether it is done repeatedly. The laws make it clear that a delivery can be unfair without being dangerous, and so not merit a warning. I didn’t think there was any risk of injury because the ball wasn’t delivered particularly fast, and both were clearly one-off mistakes.

It was a fun game to watch, and I think my performance was OK despite my prolonged absence. The only errors I think I made were not signalling for byes once, and a couple of times I was too eager to signal wides to the scorers, taking my eye off the ball a bit too early before it was categorically dead, an error I’ve made before.


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