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23 Feb 2018

T20 Trans-Tasman Tri-Series: Boundary catch rule explained

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The catch

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In the event it wasn't a no-ball, would this have been out?

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What are the laws governing these types of catches?

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So Chapman caught the ball cleanly?

Picture Credit: Ben Sutherland

The catch

With Australia hurtling towards the finish line in their rain-interrupted win over New Zealand in the final of the Trans-Tasman T20 Tri-Series final in Auckland last night, New Zealand fieldsman Mark Chapman pulled off arguably the catch of the summer, if not for the fact it was a no-ball.

Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner bowled a waist high full toss to Aaron Finch, which was immediately called no-ball by the square leg umpire. Finch subsequently clubbed the ball down to long on where Chapman ran across for an attempted catch on the boundary. As he almost runs out of the field of play, he throws the ball up, goes out of the field of play, and subsequently regathers the ball while it is still aerial before completing the catch inside the field of play. He never touches the ground outside the field of play while he has the ball in hand. The video can be viewed here:

https://www.foxsports.com.au/cricket/catch-rule-so-confusing-commentators-talk-about-rugby-instead/news-story/ad0b1dabcf33b85b1d3d5a6e81e4bc0b

It left the commentators on air at the time confused as to whether the catch had been correctly taken. One of the pundits, former New Zealand opening batsman Craig Cumming suggested "he (Chapman) has landed inside the field of play with the catch and now run out". That means he’s able to jump from where he is now and as long as his feet are off the ground and lands in the field of play (he’s okay). If he didn’t land there and was in the air when he was going over the boundary he would have to get back in and catch it there and then be able to catch it". 

In the event it wasn't a no-ball, would this have been out?

Yes, this would have been out. Cumming's assessment was partially correct, however, Chapman was not required to re-enter the field of play before taking the catch, if he had been there originally, as he suggested above. 

What are the laws governing these types of catches?

The juggling boundary catch has become commonplace at the higher levels of cricket these days. Chapman's catch, and perhaps awareness of Laws 32.3 "A Fair Catch" and 32.4 "Fielder Beyond the Boundary" as prescribed by the MCC, went a long way in claiming the catch fairly. The laws were last updated in October 2013, and outline that:

32. 3 A Fair Catch  

Providing that in every case neither  

(i) at any time the ball nor  

(ii) throughout the act of making the catch as defined in Law 19.4, 

Any fielder in contact with the ball is, as described in Law 19.3(b), touching the boundary or grounded beyond the boundary, a catch shall be considered to be fair if:

(e)    a fielder catches the ball after it has crossed the boundary in the air, provided that after being struck by the bat, the first contact with the ball is by a fielder, not touching or grounded beyond the boundary who has some part of his person grounded within the boundary or whose final contact with the ground before touching the ball was entirely within the boundary.

32.4.    Fielder beyond the boundary

A catch shall not be made and a Boundary 6 shall be scored if after the ball has been struck by the bat a fielder:    (i)    has some part of his person touching or grounded beyond the boundary when he catches the ball, or after catching it subsequently touches the boundary or grounds some part of his person beyond the boundary while carrying the ball but before completing the catch as defined in Law 19.4.    ii)    catches the ball after it has crossed the boundary in the air without the conditions in 32.3(e) above being satisfied

The interpretation of this law provides that a fielder can catch the ball fairly after passing the boundary, on the proviso that the fielder is not touching the boundary or the ground past the boundary while he or she is in contact with the ball. Before taking said catch, the fielder must have some contact with the ground within the boundary (and none on or beyond it) or have jumped up from such a position within the boundary to attempt to take the catch. 

For example, you could not simply be standing on the boundary line or beyond it while waiting after the batsman has hit the ball, and then subsequently jump up to claim the catch while in the air from either of those positions. That would be ruled to be six runs. 

So Chapman caught the ball cleanly?

Yes; the video of his catch clearly shows three things:

  • He catches the ball from within the boundary line, and subsequently jumps from a position within the boundary line while releasing the ball, to attempt to take the catch. This satisfies the conditions relating to laws 32.3 (e), as his first contact with the ball is within the boundary line, and his last contact with the ground before touching the ball is also within the boundary line. 
  • He is not standing on the boundary line or beyond it before touching the ball in attempting to take the catch.
  • He is in the field of play and touches the ground within the boundary line while taking the catch.