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Out or not-out? What the laws say about Jonny Bairstow’s run-out

Last updated on 02 Jul 2023 | 12:47 PM
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Out or not-out? What the laws say about Jonny Bairstow’s run-out

Was Bairstow out or not-out according to MCC’s law book?

On the final ball of the 52nd over of England’s innings, Jonny Bairstow was run-out in controversial fashion. 

Bairstow ducked a bouncer bowled by Cameron Green, touched the crease and started walking towards the non-striker’s end. Bairstow assumed the ball to be dead. However, to his utter shock, just seconds later, the stumps were dislodged as wicket-keeper Alex Carey scored a direct hit from behind the wickets, post which Australia started celebrating. 

The square-leg umpire Chris Gaffney, unsure of what to make of the situation, went to the third umpire and Bairstow was adjudged ‘OUT’ by Marais Erasmus. Australia’s move to run Bairstow out in the way they did enraged the Lord’s crowd, which relentlessly booed the visitors for the rest of the session. 

“Lucky to have played my whole career here. I have never seen scenes like that, especially in the long room, never mind the entire stadium. There’s a huge sense of frustration, but I can understand why. There’s complete naivety around Jonny Bairstow’s dismissal, and he’s stumped," former England skipper Eoin Morgan said on Sky Sports.

It wasn't just that, Stuart Broad, who walked out to bat after Bairstow, also was heard saying, "You'll forever be remembered for that," to Alex Carey. 

The Aussies’ act (and appeal) has also not gone down well with a section of people — former cricketers included — on social media, who have come down hard and heavily criticized the Kangaroos for an apparent ‘unsportsmanlike’ act. 

But what do the laws say? And was Bairstow out or not-out according to the law?

According to MCC’s Dead Ball law (law 20),     

“20.1.1 The ball becomes dead when it is finally settled in the hands of the wicket-keeper or of the bowler.

20.1.2 The ball shall be considered to be dead when it is clear to the bowler’s end umpire that the fielding side and both batters at the wicket have ceased to regard it as in play.”

If we apply the listed law to the Bairstow incident, the ball was not dead when Bairstow wandered off his crease as the ball never ‘settled in the hands of the wicket-keeper’. Carey threw the ball immediately after he caught it, and it was Bairstow who prematurely left the crease. 

And if we apply the 20.1.2 law, again it becomes clear that the ball was not dead since the fielding side clearly did not regard the ball to be dead. 

There is also another important law that is pertinent: 20.2 Ball finally settled.

According to the ‘20.2  Ball finally settled’ law, “Whether the ball is finally settled or not is a matter for the umpire alone to decide.”

In this case, the third umpire Marais Erasmus clearly concluded that the ball was not settled, and was very much live.

This was why Bairstow was (rightly) ruled out.

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