No Balls, No Glory

International cricketers needs to sort their shit out. Front foot no-balls are inexcusably amateur, and ‘thanks’ to technology they are ruining the flow of a game, and most critically the thrill of a dismissal.

With the changes to how technology is utilised over the past couple of years we have now found ourselves in a situation where every time a wicket falls the first thing an umpire does is tell the batsman to stagy where he is until they’ve reviewed the footage to check for a front foot no-ball. In reality it only take a few seconds, but regardless of which side of the decision you are on it is still annoying.

It is true that no-balls have always been around, probably always will be, and that there have likely be countless occasions where a wicket has fallen on a missed no-ball (pretty sure that the delivery that Shane Warne skied when he was dismissed for 99 was a no-ball), the only difference now is that the technology is available, and the playing conditions allow for it to be constantly reviewed – and it highlights two problems, its making the umpires look ordinary (in the case of the current Australia/South Africa test their rubbish LBW calls and apparent inability to count to 6 aren’t helping the cause), and it is making it very obvious just how many no-balls are being thrown down.

But technology isn’t to blame, the bowlers shouldn’t be pushing the limits of the line to begin with. There is no reason. Yes, I understand that when going full tilt a fast bowler might have a slightly longer stride that his regular delivery, and that over the length of a 20-odd metre run up small changes in stride length all add up, but these guys are professional cricketers. They should know better.

There is no incentive for pushing the line. A front foot no-ball costs your team runs, gives away extra deliveries, nullifies wickets etc. In the short forms of the game where you give away a free hit your one legal delivery could potentially cost you 13 runs (6 of a no-ball, followed by 6 off the free hit). With all those reasons why on earth is that extra couple of inches worth the risk?

The simplest solution would seem to be for every bowler to just add a foot to their run ups and just continue bowling exactly the same as they currently do. Surely this shouldn’t have any adverse impacts on their techniques, or rhythm, remember, they play cricket for a living, at the highest level, they should be able to adjust. But I’m no express paceman, never will be, so maybe there is something I’m missing, but as a frustrated follower it seems like it should be an easy ailment to treat.

At the time of writing (during lunch on Day 5 of the First test between Australia and South Africa) a total of 31 no-balls had been delivered, 23 of which were bowled by South Africa. At least 3 of these cost their teams wickets. Ben Hilfenhaus is the only quick blower yet to infringe. World-class bowlers shouldn’t be overstepping, ever.