McLaren given out handled ball
FRIDAY night’s cricket final between Westlawn and Brothers had it all: A brilliant batting performance from Westlawn captain Brendan Purser, a match-winning spell of leg spin from Luke Chard and an entertaining cameo with the bat from Brothers’ Andrew Lancaster.
However, after the game all the talk surrounding Westlawn’s victory centred around the controversial ‘Handle-gate’ dismissal of Brothers all-rounder Troy McLaren.
McLaren was given out handled ball. The umpires were correct in their decision and had no option but to give McLaren out after Westlawn players appealed.
Law 33 of the Laws of Cricket states:
“Either batsman is out handled the ball if he wilfully touches the ball while in play with a hand or hands not holding the bat unless he does so with the consent of the opposing side.”
The decision has sparked interest in the cricket community regarding the unusual dismissal.
Brothers’ Night Cricket skipper Mick Summers was tight-lipped on the incident after the match.
“It was unfortunate, the umpires had no option but to give him out but on saying that I have seen Troy do the same thing a hundred times before and other players in the competition do the same thing,” he said.
But was the dismissal within the spirit of the game?
I thought it appropriate to ask some Premier League captains on their views on the incident and their thoughts on whether handling the ball is common in the game today. But before I do that let’s set the scene for what actually unfolded on the night.
Westlawn’s Matt Lobsey charged in to bowl a regulation delivery to Brothers’ Troy McLaren. The batsman advanced down the wicket only to see the ball take a thickish inside edge and roll down the pitch towards Matt Lobsey. With the ball still slightly moving McLaren picked up the ball and tossed it to Lobsey who was completing his follow-through. Westlawn appealed against McLaren handling the ball and the rest is history.
England’s Michael Vaughan was the last player dismissed handled ball in a test match and made these comments after a fixture against India in Bangalore in 2001.
“It was only the natural thing to do. I went for the sweep shot, the ball got lodged between my arm and my pads, and there was no way that ball was going to hit the stumps,” Vaughan said at the time.
“I just thought it was the right thing to do to help the short-leg fielder, and I flicked the ball to him.”
“I understand that, in the laws of the game, it is out. I am a bit disappointed that someone in the team appealed, and obviously the umpire had to give me out. It was lodged between my arm and the pad first. The ball was only going one way, and that was forward. I was just a bit bemused by the whole situation and didn’t quite know what to do. Obviously, as soon as the umpire puts his finger up, you’ve got to go.”
Vaughan insisted that he just wanted to get on with the game and that he was disappointed that the Indian team had appealed, leaving no option for the umpire but to give him out. When he was persistently asked whether the Indians’ appealing for the wicket was the right decision Vaughan said it ‘probably it is against the spirit of the game.’
Vaughan’s captain at the time, Nasser Hussain disagreed with his batsman’s comments and was quoted as saying: “In the same situation I would have appealed nine times out of 10.”
Steve Waugh was also given out handled ball against India in the same year.
Waugh said at the time: “When survival beckons, instincts seem to take over before the brain has time to engage. Next time I will still help the short leg out but I will use my boot.”
On Vaughan’s dismissal Indian captain Sourav Gangully at the time expressed his views.
“I didn’t appeal as I couldn’t see what happened that clearly from where I was fielding (straight mid-wicket). But someone did and I left it to the umpires.
“It all happened very fast on the field and it was only when I saw the TV later, that I saw what happened. It is difficult to say if it was unsporting. Having seen it a few times, I feel Vaughan caught the ball too quickly before it had gone dead. It was a sad way to get out but it really happened too quickly for me to ever consider calling him back.”
There are obviously both sides to the argument and it must be pointed out that the player in question, McLaren, copped the decision on the chin. I doubt if we will see McLaren handle the ball in the near future - or anyone else for that matter.
Handled with care
Test match dismissal’s handled ball
W R Endean: South Africa v England at Cape Town (1956-57)
A M J Hilditch: Australia v Pakistan at Perth (1978-79)
Moshin Khan: Pakistan v Australia at Karachi (1982-83)
D L Haynes: West Indies v India at Bombay (1983-84)
G A Gooch: England v Australia at Manchester (1993)
S R Waugh: Australia v India at Madras (2001)
M P Vaughan: England v India at Bangalore (2001)
One-Day dismissal’s handled ball
M Amarnath: India v Australia at Melbourne (1986)
D Cullinan South Africa v West Indies (1999)