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The Half-Volley Problem

The Half-Volley Problem
By Dan Liebke • Issue #48 • View online
A thought experiment in cricketing philosophy 

There is a ball hurtling down the pitch, destined to be a half-volley. Ahead, at the crease, there is a handy lower middle order batter. The half-volley is headed straight into the slot. There is also a set batter backing up too far at the non-striker’s end. You - a neutral lover of the sport - are standing some distance off in the stands, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the half-volley will exhibit enough late reverse swing to move to a different line. You have two (and only two) options:
  1. Do nothing, in which case the half-volley will be driven straight back down the pitch, where the bowler will get a touch and run out the set batter.
  2. Pull the lever, diverting the half-volley between bat and pad where it will bowl the lower middle order batter currently on strike.
Which is the more ethical option? What is the right thing to do?
Follow-Up Ethical Questions
Does your decision change in any of the following circumstances?
  • What if the set batter is run out after the ball is driven to cover, rather than by the bowler getting a fingertip to it, FFS?
  • What if the set batter got a feather on one a few overs earlier but was given not out? (Does your opinion change if the fielding team had burnt all their DRS reviews? If they chose not to review? If DRS was unavailable due to a technical glitch?)
  • What if the handy lower middle order batter is more entertaining to watch than the set batter, even though technically less correct?
  • What if the bowler is a dick?
  • What if an illegal bookmaker offers to buy your incredibly powerful (and possibly magical) lever, planning to use it to alter the outcome of major cricket matches all around the world? For how much do you sell it?
As always you can get my behind-the-scenes thoughts on the writing of this piece over on my Patreon (, along with approximately one squillion other benefits. All for just $2/month
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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