HomeAnalysisHowzat: Should the LBW laws be changed to make...

Howzat: Should the LBW laws be changed to make the game fair?

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The former Australian captain, Ian Chappell suggested few changes in the LBW laws as the need of the hour in an article on espncricinfo. According to Chappell, the current LBW laws favour the batsman, in a game already skewed against the bowlers.

Chappell suggested that the LBW laws should be changed to make the game fair. In this article we explain the current LBW laws; how they favour a batsman? What are Ian Chappell’s suggestions on LBW laws? And what would be the possible implications of the changes?

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Current LBW Laws

The Leg Before Wicket or LBW laws in cricket are often compared to the offside rule of football, although many people claim to know it, it can get quite confusing.

(Credits: YouTube)

Law 36, which explains the rules behind LBW, asks the umpires to consider the following while deciding whether the batsman is out LBW or not.

Is it a legal delivery?

The ball must be a legal delivery. LBW does not even come into picture if the ball delivered is a no-ball.

Where does the ball pitch?

A possibility of LBW arises when the ball pitches or hits the batsman in full, in line of the wicket or on the offside of the wicket.

LBW is not a question if the ball pitches outside leg-stump. Line of wicket is an imaginary line drawn between the area covered between the strikers and non-striker’s wicket.

Did the batsman get any bat on the ball?

The third criteria to be considered is whether the batsman got any part of bat or gloves on the ball. If yes, for example, an edge on the way through to the pad, he cannot be adjudged out LBW. For an LBW decision, there has to be no bat or gloves involved.

Batsman can be given out LBW, no matter which part of his body or protective gear ball crashes into, exceptions being bat and gloves. For instance, Sachin Tendulkar was once given out LBW when the ball hit his shoulder as he ducked expecting a bouncer.

Was there a genuine attempt to play the ball?

This is where the LBW laws get a little difficult to understand. If a batsman was making a genuine attempt to play the ball (offers a stroke to the ball delivered), the point of impact has to be in line of the stump for an LBW decision.

If the batsman was not making a genuine attempt to play, an LBW decision is possible if the impact is in line of the stump or even outside off stump.

Is ball going on to hit the stumps?

The interception of the ball by a batsman should be in such a position where the trajectory of the ball suggests that it would’ve gone on to hit the stump. If all of these above-mentioned criteria are satisfied, the batsman is declared out LBW.

How LBW Laws favour batsmen?

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(Credits: Twitter/ Fox Sports)

As we discussed above, if the ball pitches outside leg-stump, a batsman cannot be adjudged out LBW. This law, while one hand prevents a number of batsmen from being given our LBW even if the ball finishes on the wickets, on the other hand it has been grossly misused by the batsman against leg-spin bowlers.

As soon as the ball pitches outside leg-stump, as a leg spinner, ball is expected to spin towards the stump making it difficult for the batsman to play the ball. Although due to the rule, batsman reach out to the pitch of the ball and deflect it away using their pads.

The trajectory of the ball does not matter. After the ball pitches outside leg-stump, it doesn’t matter even if the ball goes on to hit the stump. By the very definition of the Leg Before Wicket, it should be declared out, but the rule favours the batsman.

The same argument lies for impact outside off-stump. If the batsman offers the shot and is still deceived by the ball and gets hit on his pads, why should he not be given out? The bowler clearly outsmarted the batsman but still does not get to claim the wicket.

Ian Chappell’s Suggestion

Ian Chappell was clear in his article, he believed that it shouldn’t matter where the ball pitches or where the point of impact is, as long as the ball is going on to hit the stump, the batsman should be declared out LBW.

If the point of impact is outside the line of stumps, off or leg stump, he should be declared out LBW. It also should not matter where the ball pitches, even if it pitches outside the leg stump, the batsman should be given out as long as the ball goes on to hit the stump.

Implications of Change

According to Chappell, such a change would result in screams of horror from pampered batsman. It would not be wrong to say that batsmen would lose a lot of privilege on strike.

There will not be anymore deflection of Rashid or Chahal’s leggies, the batsman will be given out while doing so as long as ball goes on to hit the stump. The LBW laws, if changed, will take away the advantage of the batsman and will make the game fair.

As a result, the batsman will only be able to save himself from an LBW decision using his bat. The pads will no longer protect the batsman from an LBW decision and will be used just to prevent him from a possible injury.

Moreover, from the batsman’s point of view Chappell hoped that batters will find a new way to combat the challenges and it would be interesting to see the changes.

Post covid-19 cricket is set to game and favour the batsmen, if ICC bans shinning the ball with sweat and saliva. In such a senario, changing the LBW laws could help restore the balance between bat and ball.

Do let us know your views in the comment section: Should the LBW laws be changed?

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