Excessive lateral movement by wicket keepers
Thursday 12th April 2007

Clubs are advised that excessive lateral movement by wicket keepers when the ball is live will result in a call of "dead ball" and that umpires in the MCUA have been advised of the need for consistency in this matter.

The following is an abstract from current pages on the MCUA's website.

"After a fair delivery has left the bowler's hand, but not reached the striker, the wicket-keeper standing up in his normal position makes a deliberate and significant lateral movement. The ball is hit and goes directly into the gloves of the wicket keeper who immediately appeals.

What action(s) should the umpire(s) take and for what reasons?"

The following is a reply from Stan Bennett, the Laws of Cricket Guru, to the MCUA's question:

"You say the ball is hit. I take it that you are not referring to a nick that comes off the edge and goes to the keeper's right hand, but are talking about a genuine cut shot, something the striker has done deliberately. I will make that assumption.

"Law 40, in dealing with significant movement by the wicket-keeper, talks only of his moving forward from a standing back position. It is easy to come to the conclusion that there is, therefore, no restriction on the wicket-keeper moving laterally. However, I would disagree with that for the following reasons.

"Law 41 deals with significant movement by any fielder. Appendix D defines a fielder as "... any one of the 11 or fewer players currently on the field of play who together compose the fielding side. This definition includes not only both the bowler and the wicket-keeper but also ...". The wicket-keeper is, therefore, clearly a fielder and just as clearly Law 41 applies to him. This means that if he is classed as a close fielder (and when standing up he surely must be), he can make only a slight adjustment to his stance or position. The difficulty, though, could be in deciding whether or not he is just using his skill to anticipate the striker's intent, and you can't deny him that.

"As always it is a matter of judgement, but there is nothing in the Laws that guarantees the wicket-keeper immunity if he moves in this way. If either umpire judges that the wicket-keeper's movement breaches Laws 41.7 and 41.8 he should call and signal Dead ball. As the ball is considered dead from the time of the offence (ie before the catch), the appeal has no meaning and does not need to be answered, and the delivery does not count as one of the over (see Law 23.5).

"It is, I guess, possible that it could be seen as a deliberate attempt to distract the striker, in which case Law 42.4 applies, but I'm not sure I would go down that route unless it were very obvious. Note that for an offence to be committed under this Law it is not necessary for the striker actually to be distracted, only that a deliberate attempt to distract him was made."