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Monday, January 2, 2017

Amla out to Nuwan Pradeep at Port Elizabeth - 10000th LBW dismissal

Remember watching on TV -  ODI no. 281 in a charged atmosphere and was left saddened in the end. India lost to England by a solitary run at Barbati Stadium, Cuttack on 27th Dec 1984 – and my favourite Krishnamachari Srikkanth was out LBW to parttime bowler Mike Gatting @ 99 ! 

In 1983, when Kapil Devils lifted the Prudential World Cup, India toured West Indies before the WC and prior had a tough disastrous tour in Pakistan.  Pak led by Imran Khan trounced Gavaskar led Indians 3-0 in a 6 match Series.  In the 1st Test Mohsin khan  reached his 1,000 runs in Tests in a calendar year, while Gavaskar not only passed the 7,000 Test run mark but in the process became only the second batsman after Greg Chappell to score over 1,000 runs against Pakistan in Tests.  Imran was at his devastating best – still – there were comments that the Pak bowlers were frequently no-balling, which were ignored by Pak Umpires and that an Indian batsman struck on the pads, will have to walk back to the pavilion, adjudged ‘leg before wicket’ ..

You can be pardoned for not reading properly or not pronouncing it proper - Aththachchi Nuwan Pradeep Roshan Fernando [no Attakathi !] but Nuwan Pradeep who has become part of Cricket statistical history.  In the Boxing day test  no. 2243  at  St George's Park, Port Elizabeth – in the 2nd innings, prolific scoring Hasheem Amla was out to Pradeep for 48 – Amla walked across, missed the line and was adjudged wicket ~ that was important milestone !!

The tally of leg-before-wicket scalps in cricket's premier format stood at 9,999 after day two of the first Test between South Africa and Sri Lanka at St George's Park.  More was to follow, in the other Boxing day test at Melbourne – the full day did not have any LBW decisions and hence the dismissal of Amla became the distinct LBW wicket no. 10,000.  Nuwan Pradeep dismissed Amla with the last ball before tea, making him  that coveted landmark. 

There have always been comments that ‘if Thommo does not get you – Lillee will’ – and detractors will say – if you are struck anywhere on the pads, it is LBW in Australia and if you are beaten – it is ‘Caught Marsh Bowled Lillee’ – could be travesty of justice to that legendary fast bowler.  In the same breathe,  any lbw decision is always a travesty so far as one side is concerned: for the bowler, it's always out; for the batsman, never. In between these two certainties is the grey area of discretion in which the poor and increasingly beleaguered umpire must wallow, knowing fully well that while one side will congratulate them on an excellent decision, the other will scowl and mutter vague imprecations.

For a batsman to be out leg before wicket, the umpire must decide that the ball has hit the batsman on the body and would have gone on to hit the stumps, subject to certain conditions. The bowler should have bowled a legal delivery - not a no-ball. If the ball has pitched, it should not have pitched outside the line of leg stump. The ball shall hit any part of the batsman - not just the legs - apart from the hand holding the bat, in line with the stumps; unless the umpire decides the batsmen isn't playing a shot, in which case the impact of the ball on the pad/body can be outside the line of off stump as well, but not outside leg stump.  The umpire would  then decide whether the predicted trajectory of the ball would have taken it on to hit the stumps.

So, there are always – ‘ifs and buts’ – yet it has always been the Umpire’s decision – when struck on pad, some batsman might try to show the bat, some might rub their arms or thigh – trying to impress that it had struck elsewhere and some batsman would avoid eye contact with the Umpire – still, the dreaded finger can slowly go up and batsman will have to trudge his way back to the Pavilion -  and one such walk back, by history has made Amla and Pradeep part of the statistical lore – 10000th LBW dismissal. 

At Melbourne, a  quirk of the rules  cost Pakistan a run in the first innings of the Boxing Day Test. Younis Khan was struck on the pad by Josh Hazlewood shortly after lunch, with the ball running down to fine leg. The batters took a leg bye, but Younis was given out LBW. The wicket was then overturned on review. The ball was declared dead, which meant that the run did not stand.  One would feel that if it was not out, then there was a run in it, when the batsmen had crossed over !

Sachin Tendulkar with so many records, was once about LBW when he ducked and the ball hit the shoulder and not the leg.  He was the batsman to be given out by Third Umpire. .. .. and he holds the record for being dismissed LBW 63 times; Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Graham Gooch, Alastair Cook and Ricky Ponting are in the top 5.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

28th Dec 2016.

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