Laws – Which Ones are we Using?
MAY 2013 edition
The great British summer had better behave itself after last season’s washout. The main topic of questioning for us umpires was the use of the dreaded groundsheets or the intricacies of stopping a game and if to claim a full house if we left poor Freda standing out in the elements to protect the head.
There are a couple of debates that we have to suffer every year now as we transition between indoor and outdoor codes. This debate is caused by the farcical situation of having two law books in this great nation of ours. With the rest of the world only having to adjust to not having a roof over their heads and just carry on playing to the same laws, here in blighty we have to think about who is going to do the scorecard and whether our big toe is protruding of the front of the mat for fear of a tap on the shoulder from the big bad umpire.
The difference in wording between the two law books is subtle but the implications can be quite dramatic. One little sentence in the outdoor code can potentially render your finest delivery null and void on the first day of the outdoor season even if you do nothing different to when standing on an indoor mat. Law 20.1 in the Crystal Mark Edition of the laws deals with a player’s position on the mat and the sentence in question states “Before delivery a player should be standing on the mat with one foot fully on the mat”. Quite simple at first glance, isn’t it?
But of course we have seen many players who use the edge of the mat to gain a little extra line and, quite innocently perhaps, have part of their heel or toe overlapping the edge of the mat. Well they had better beware as this is technically a foot fault when playing outdoors and the penalty for such a transgression is the removal of the bowl after an initial warning.
As umpires, I believe we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place; do we allow the odd transgression and allow the game to proceed, or penalise each and every toenail that finds its way off the front of the mat. Much has been said about penalising only if a player is seen to gain advantage by foot-faulting, but clearly the word ‘advantage’ does not appear anywhere in the law book. So then, should we consider penalising everyone? Some say that it would teach players a lesson and they would learn to correct their stance if we took a tougher line on enforcing the law. In some ways, I have to agree with that line of thought but on the other hand I would much rather see a game progress smoothly and deal with the matter by means of education away from the game. I will probably get shot down in flames here for passing the buck, but I truly believe that correcting a roving foot is the job of the coaches.
Who does the scorecard? Oh yes, the skip must do it now that we have the sun on our backs. So for seven months of the year the number two gets the honour of being the scribe but now we are out in the fresh air it falls to the skip. Please don’t forget. Oh and please, don’t create a fuss with the umpire if he spots the second marking it and asks for the skip to take over the duty. Whilst it may not be the most popular law change in the book, it was pretty much thanks to the triples players that it got changed to make it consistent. We all remember who used to keep the card in triples when they were not supposed to, don’t we?
Enjoy the sunshine and remember, keep those feet on the mat and make sure the skip brings a pen to the game.