The Joys of Decision-making: A Play in Three Acts
Russell Degnan

Law 36 (Leg before wicket)

1. Out LBW
The striker is out LBW in the circumstances set out below.
(a)The bowler delivers a ball, not being a No ball
and (b) the ball, if it is not intercepted full pitch, pitches in line between wicket and wicket or on the off side of the striker's wicket
and (c) the ball not having previously touched his bat, the striker intercepts the ball, either full pitch or after pitching, with any part of his person
and (d) the point of impact, even if above the level of the bails
either (i) is between wicket and wicket
or (ii) is either between wicket and wicket or outside the line of the off stump, if the striker has made no genuine attempt to play the ball with his bat
and (e) but for the interception, the ball would have hit the wicket.

2. Interception of the ball
(a) In assessing points (c), (d) and (e) in 1 above, only the first interception is to be considered.
(b) In assessing point (e) in 1 above, it is to be assumed that the path of the ball before interception would have continued after interception, irrespective of whether the ball might have pitched subsequently or not.

3. Off side of wicket
The off side of the striker's wicket shall be determined by the striker's stance at the moment the ball comes into play for that delivery.

The Characters:

The UMPIRE: In the lower grades an umpire is never really an umpire but a fellow player of the batting side. While some (mostly bowlers), not particular bothered by the ostracism of aggrieved team-mates, like to give batsmen out LBW, the majority are as conservative as Dicky Bird in his hey-day. Our protagonist gives them but rarely, is well versed in the laws, and can count to six. Despite middling eyesight, mistakes are rare.

The CAPTAIN: The opposition captain is about 35, bulky in a way only lower grade cricketers of middle years can be, still with hair, and surprisingly, without a Boony moustache. He fields at mid-off to the right-handers.

The MID-WICKET: Short mid-wicket is reserved for either very good fieldsman or insane psychopaths. Ours is of the latter variety, in his 40s, and prone to the Jekyll and Hyde approach to sportsmanship, being a nice enough bloke off the field and a right dickhead on it. After suffering each outburst, our umpire can retire to square-leg to hear what a complete arse he is from his team-mates, but not before.

The BOWLER: Our bowler is about 17, sharp-ish, bowling right-arm over the wicket and swinging it in both directions. Having not played at the club for long he is probably still a nice kid.


[The SCENE: a suburban cricket ground surrounded by tall gum-trees. A pleasant day, not too warm with the odd cloud. The grass is green for this time of year but otherwise it is a Saturday afternoon typical of any that occur in Melbourne over summer.

The BOWLER has just taken a wicket, and is bowling to the new BATSMAN: a left-hander. The UMPIRE is new to the field, having replaced a player in need of pads. The bowled ball pitches outside well outside leg and is glanced very fine for a single. The FIELDSMEN appeal for LBW.]

UMPIRE: Not Out.

MID-WICKET: He didn't play a shot at that! Dead ball.

[The UMPIRE - slightly unsurely doesn't signal leg byes]

MID-WICKET: He didn't play a shot.

UMPIRE: Given I've signaled runs I'm pretty sure he played a shot.


UMPIRE: I reckon he hit it.

MID_WICKET: Fucking hell.

UMPIRE: [to LH BATSMAN, quietly] Did you hit that?

LH BATSMAN: Not sure.

UMPIRE: Sounded like it anyway.


[The BOWLER bowls to a Right-Handed Batsman, the non-striker in Act 1. The ball swings in, hitting the batsman on the full on middle and leg. Despite the trajectory of the ball taking it well down the leg-side there is a large appeal.]

UMPIRE: Not Out.

MID-WICKET [ironically, given they'd previously given not out some of the plumbest LBWs in the history of the sport]: Don't even bother appealing, he isn't going to give anything.

CAPTAIN [apparently having picked up the tiniest of knowledge from the television, but not understanding it fully; or perhaps worse, understanding precisely what the commentator meant despite said commentator being wrong]: What? It hit him on the full. That's Out.

UMPIRE [turning]: No it isn't. Learn the rules.

CAPTAIN: When it hits him on the full the ball goes straight on. That's out.

UMPIRE: Yes, straight on in the line the ball was travelling. It was going down the leg-side so it is not out.

CAPTAIN: You're a fucking disgrace.

[The UMPIRE turns back while the BOWLER bowls the next ball without incident.]

UMPIRE: Over [hands the BOWLER his cap] Despite what your captain thinks, the ball was going well down leg.

BOWLER: yeah.

CAPTAIN: Don't listen to him, he has no idea.

UMPIRE [smiles]


[Bowling again to the Left-Handed batsman again, the BOWLER gets the ball to swing back into the batsman's pads. It hits him in line with leg-stump, and was going on to hit middle; however having pitched well outside leg stump it is not out. The FIELDSMEN appeal anyway]

UMPIRE: Not Out.

MID-WICKET [angrily]: What was it missing?

UMPIRE: It pitched outside leg.

MID-WICKET [still angry]: How can that not be out? It was hitting middle!

UMPIRE: Yes, it was going to hit the stumps, but it pitched well outside leg, so it is not out.

MID-WICKET: It's fucking out, you're a fucking disgrace.

UMPIRE: Mate, you can call me a disgrace when you learn the rules. In the meantime it is not out.

MID-WICKET [muttering]: Fuck off.

UMPIRE [smiles]


Cricket - Articles 13th February, 2006 19:43:35   [#] 


Excellent, Russ. I've been there.  14th February, 2006 14:06:42  

The Joys of Decision-making: A Play in Three Acts
I've got no idea how blokes can play cricket for 20 years and still not learn the rules of the game. Mind you, we get the odd 'official' umpire who doesn't have a clue too. Last week's one seemed to think that any full toss should be a no-ball. The waist apparently starts just above the ankle.

I umpired footy in the past and that was just as bad. Maybe even worse.
Bruce  15th February, 2006 14:15:32  

I blame Tony Grieg
"That's out, clearly out."
[Given not out]
"Oh, well, I'd like to have another look at that."
[sees replay, clearly pitching outside leg]
"Well I am not sure why he gave that not out."
Bloody muppet.

Mind you, there are enough crap umpires giving rubbish decisions that you can see why people get confused.
Russ  15th February, 2006 14:33:00  

The Joys of Decision-making: A Play in Three Acts
Just out of curiosity, were you the 'umpire' in this dramatic production?
Scott Wickstein  19th February, 2006 20:05:50  

The Joys of Decision-making: A Play in Three Acts
Scott, I think you can probably assume that, yes. Although this doesn't necessarily relate to specific incidents that may or may not have occured this season.

Unless the persons involved happen to read it; in which case it does.
Russ  19th February, 2006 22:13:43