Club Cricket Conference

Monday, 29th November 2021

Buttler run-out incident belongs in a world of its own

By Charles Randall

4 June 2014

Take no notice of the Edgbaston furore over Jos Buttler. Non-strikers being run out by the bowler while backing up might happen occasionally in club and village grounds up and down the country, but these incidents have become much rarer since the ploy was virtually outlawed in 2000.

Bowlers, bound by the Laws of Cricket, are not permitted to deceive a non-striker in the way that the Sri Lanka bowler Sachitra Senanayake did when he took off the bails to get rid of the England star hitter Buttler in the fifth one-dayer on Tuesday.

Law 38 was amended in 2000, so that paragraph 2 (b) now states that a non-striker cannot be run out by the bowler in this way “after the bowler has entered his delivery stride”. This clarified a vexing grey area in the Laws to eliminate unsporting behaviour, let alone downright cheating. Whether a warning has been issued or not makes no difference.

The Buttler dismissal was upheld by the umpire because the ICC had introduced an international playing condition in 2011 that permitted this up to the point of release and thus over-ruling Law 38. No doubt the authorities felt quick-footed batsmen were stealing too much distance too often, though with Buttler this was clearly not the case. He appeared to have heeded a previous warning as he was standing close enough to the crease to put his bat down when Senanayake removed the bails. His dismissal was 'not cricket'.

The non-striker can easily be deceived by the thump of the bowler's foot into assuming the ball has been released, as with Buttler perhaps.  A batsman might be looking at the striker's end as he moves forward without necessarily contemplating a run. Maybe a batsman should be more careful, but it is worth remembering that for the vast majority of cricketers Law 38 ensures that the stealing of distance can only be stopped before delivery stride and not after.

The ICC should have given the umpire discretion to decide whether the dismissed batsman was in fact stealing distance. In the case of Buttler the decision would have been 'dead ball' under Law 42.15. Edgbaston was an example of the ICC fiddling the time-honoured Laws with an ugly result.