WATCH, BBL | Umpires' failure to notice blatant flouting of rules deprives Melbourne of no-ball

WATCH, BBL | Umpires' failure to notice blatant flouting of rules deprives Melbourne of no-ball

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The Melbourne Renegades dugout was left in disbelief as the events unfolded



Given how simple the rules of cricket appear to be for most parts, the rule book has great depth and complications that can even leave experienced umpires dumbfounded. BBL officials on Tuesday came under heavy flak for allowing Thunder to place six fielders on the leg side for two balls straight.

Melbourne Renegades cruised to victory against the Adelaide Strikers at the Docklands Stadium on Tuesday to book their tickets to the knockout stages of the Big Bash League. Having restricted the visitors to 142/7, an unbeaten 63 off 54 deliveries from skipper Aaron Finch secured a six-wicket victory for the Red Army with 11 balls to spare. However, the Renegades encountered early trouble in their chase as Marin Guptill departed on the third ball of the innings itself but it was the incident that followed upon Sam Harper's arrival to the crease that truly shoved the game into the spotlight.

Spinner Matthew Short alongside his captain Travis Head set a leg-side heavy field for the incoming batter with a specific bowling strategy in mind. Harper nearly fell victim to the plan on his second delivery itself when he was caught off-guard after dancing down the track but vicious spin ensured the ball hit his thigh and went to leg-slip harmlessly. Yet, Sydney Thunder player Chris Green who was commentating on the game at the moment was quick to point out that the batter could not be dismissed on the delivery anyway, given the illegal field setup of the fielding side. The rulebook only allows a maximum of five fielders to be placed on the leg side at any given moment but the Strikers' eagerness to gain scalps had seen them place a leg slip as well, making him the sixth fielder on the leg side.

The umpire had overlooked the error on the first ball that Harper faced and seemed to have missed it for a second straight time, given the entire DRS process was allowed to go through without any intervals. It was not until the next ball was about to be bowled that the umpire signaled a no-ball and a free hit for the Renegades. However, the incident left the batting dugout furious, given they had missed out on a deserved no-ball and the ensuing free-hit due to the umpire's error. The incident also highlighted a blatant loophole in cricket laws, which state the fielding team cannot change its field setup on a free-hit if the batter does not change strike. however, in this instance, Head was forced to shuffle the field since the very nature of the offense was field-based. 

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