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Breaking The Laws - Clumsy Leg Before Wicket

Breaking The Laws - Clumsy Leg Before Wicket
By Dan Liebke • Issue #33 • View online
Breaking The Laws
The sport of cricket is correctly acknowledged as the greatest sport of them all. But just because it’s better than every other sport doesn’t mean it can’t be improved further.
In Breaking The Laws, I make proposals for changes to the Laws of the game (or tactical approaches to those Laws) that would add to the sport a fresh tactical, athletic or comedic dimension.

Clumsy Leg Before Wicket
Problem with Current Law
The current leg before wicket Laws have no aesthetic component to them. It is simply an umpire’s opinion (augmented by ball-tracking technology where appropriate) on whether the ball will go on to hit the stumps, subject to the usual leg before wicket caveats.
Proposed Solution
Margins of error for LBWs should be adjusted in proportion to how clumsy the batter has been made to look.
This is clumsy, Sachin, and deserves to be punished
This is clumsy, Sachin, and deserves to be punished
Implementation
If a bowler appeals for LBW, both umpires will immediately hold up a numbered card between 1 and 5. As with Olympic diving or gymnastics, those cards shall be a subjective measure of the aesthetic clumsiness of the batter in negotiating the delivery. The higher the number, the more awkward the batter has been made to look. (Note: This is the reverse of those subjectively scored Olympic sports - a variation that will help maintain the supremacy of cricket as a sport.)
The following Aesthetic Clumsiness Score (ACS) guidelines should be applied for each score from 1 to 5:
  1. Batter plays a textbook defensive stroke that just happens to miss the ball
  2. Batter is deemed to have initially misjudged the line or length of the ball but mostly recovers their composure by the time the ball reaches them
  3. Batter seems befuddled by the bowler’s skill and plays a panicky or belated shot at the delivery
  4. Batter is completely deceived by movement in the air or off the pitch and is utterly wrong-footed and made to look like an inept child
  5. Batter is knocked off their feet by an inswinging yorker like a total fucken idiot
The bowler’s end umpire will then make their LBW decision as usual. However, in any aspects of the decision where there is an element of judgement to be made (did the ball pitch outside leg, was the batter struck in line with the stumps and, most importantly, would the ball have gone on to hit the stumps), the umpire shall adjust their opinion in accordance with the combined total of the umpires’ Aesthetic Clumsiness Scores.
Again, as a guideline:
  • An ACS of 1-3: the batter should be given the benefit of the doubt with no mental adjustment to any LBW judgements
  • An ACS of 4-6: start to give the bowlers an advantage in any judgement adjustment (eg “Did that pitch outside leg? Well, maybe just a little bit. Who cares?”)
  • An ACS of 7-9: the bowlers should be given all possible leeway for the decision (eg “Don’t care where it pitched or whether it struck in line - if it’s in the general vicinity of the stumps, I’m giving it.”)
  • An ACS of 10: Out. Who cares about actual Laws at this stage? The batter look like a fool. Get them outta here.
Pros
  • A bowler is rewarded for their ability to make a batter look foolish, arguably a more impressive feat than merely dismissing them
  • Gets the square leg umpire involved in leg before wicket dismissals
  • Adds a new statistic by which batters and bowlers can be measured
  • Also, a new acronym - ACS (Note, in line with other cricketing terminology vagueness such as ‘innings’, the ACS will be used to refer both to 1) either one of the umpire’s scores or 2) the combined total of the scores. Cricket fans will be forced to infer which of the two meanings is intended based on context.) Ideally, ACS will also be usually spoken of as an ‘ACS score’ (despite ‘score’ being part of the acronym) to infuriate pedants
Cons
  • There will be initial difficulties in coding these changes into the ball-tracking algorithms used for DRS. Not so much for the alteration to the margins of error. That should be a simple mapping from the umpires’ ACS score to a ball-tracking and projection adjustment factor. But if we wish to ultimately also refer the onfield ACS to a computerised check, that will require more sophisticated analysis. However, some kind of machine learning study of video footage of the batter’s awkwardness and the ensuing scores should be well within the capabilities of modern computers, given enough example data. Once this technology is settled, the batter would have to specify which aspect of the decision they wish to review - the umpires’ ACS scores or the ensuing decision based on those scores. (A particularly bold batter could burn two reviews and check both)
  • Holding up the score cards will take a few seconds more time on each LBW appeal, as the bowler’s end umpire both takes into consideration the square leg umpire’s input, and adds a suitably dramatic pause before revealing their decision based on the ACS
Further Notes
It is acknowledged that many umpires are already influenced to some extent by how foolish the batter has been made to appear. This is a correct instinct and the proposed change to this Law seeks merely to codify that factor.
You can find another example of Breaking The Laws, this time on making the extra half hour for slow over rates more tactically interesting, over at my Patreon. I’ll be adding fresh examples of how cricket can be improved over there on a regular basis, so sign up if that interests you.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Dan Liebke

Every Friday, I go through my big list of cricket ideas, and churn out a first draft of something I've got in there. It won't be polished. It may not be interesting. I make no promises. But I'm going to throw something up and see what works and what (infinitely more likely) does not.

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