Two of the world’s best bowlers have called for cricket to change one of its laws following Michael Neser’s controversial catch on Sunday.
The Brisbane all-rounder dismissed Jordan Silk in the Heat’s thrilling 15-run haul against the Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash, but the nature of the catch sparked considerable debate over whether it was a legitimate dismissal or a six.
As Silk carved Mark Steketee high towards the extra-cover boundary, Neser took the catch and tripped the rope.
Michael Neser (centre) takes a controversial catch in Brisbane’s win over the Sixers
As he did so, he tried to flick the ball back but only succeeded in deflecting it over the rope where he was forced to juggle again with his feet in the air before taking a catch in the field of play.
The TV umpire reviewed the dismissal and ruled it out, with Neser’s feet not touching the floor outside the ropes when he had the ball in hand.
The catch is perfectly legal under law 19.4.2 under the MCC Laws of Cricket, which states: ‘The ball in play shall be deemed to be grounded beyond the boundary if a fielder, grounded beyond the boundary as in 19.5, has touched the ball.
‘A fielder, after catching the ball inside the boundary, becomes grounded beyond the boundary while making contact with the ball, before completing the catch.’
In October 2013, the MCC changed the rule to allow catches like Neser’s. Previously, the fielder’s last point of contact with the ground could not be outside the field of play as they attempted the catch.
Josh Hazlewood, however, was not impressed with Neser’s juggling skills.
‘I didn’t like it all,’ the Aussie tearaway told reporters on Monday ‘I think it should go back to the old rule where you have to be on the field of play and that’s your last step before you bring it back.
‘It’s something else and Ness [Neser] is pretty clued-up on the rules. It worked for them last night.
Neser makes first contact with the ball down the field as he tries to keep it from going for six
He then flicked it through the air as he strode across the boundary line to catch it
Neser jumped in the air as he juggled the ball in the air and back down the field
Before turning his back on the boundary line to finally pick up the ball and complete the catch
‘The players certainly know the rules. I’m not sure when [the rule] changed, but it was some years ago.’
Former Australia T20 player Cameron Boyce slammed the ‘bad rule’ on Twitter, while star New Zealand quick Trent Boult took a similar tone, suggesting the rule was in danger of stripping the boundary rope of its meaning.
‘I didn’t realize that was the rule,’ the Melbourne Stars veteran said.
‘I think it may need addressing. I’ve seen a couple of comments saying: “What is the point of a boundary rope? Can you keep hopping around the field of play?”
Both Josh Hazlewood (left) and Trent Boult (right) have called for the rule to be changed
‘I think it’s a tough one, but to make it clear, I think you have to level the playing field once you’re back on top of the rope.’
Boult was not alone in admitting he was unaware of the rule until Sunday night.
‘I’ll put my hand up and say it was brilliant umpiring and a brilliant sense of game awareness by Michael Neser for him to know that rule,’ Adam Gilchrist said on Fox Sports commentary.
‘In this modern day, we shouldn’t be surprised, but we continue to be surprised at how good they are. They practice a lot and the fielders learn all the intricate little rules.
Sydney Thunder star Chris Green felt Neser’s catch was legitimate
He then explained to a fan why he thought the umpire was right in upholding the decision
‘I don’t know any cricketer who can put their hand on their heart and say they know every single rule of the game, but maybe there’s more to it now with the modern athleticism and skill they have. Brilliant all around.’
Meanwhile, Sydney Thunder captain Chris Green applauded the catch.
‘Incredible catch! Big moment in the game from Neser,’ he tweeted.
In a follow-up tweet, he added: ‘[Glenn] Maxwell explained the rule well in Seven take the catch in the field of play, as long as you are off the ground when the ball is in hand over the rope and you return to the rope when you have completed the catch then it is gone. ‘