Umesh Yadav has to thank Herschelle Gibbs for his catch that dismissed Joe Root. There seems to be some confusion regarding the legality of Yadav’s catch – whether he had full control of it or not – but the change in the law in 2000 effectively nailed it in his favour.
Before we get to the law, here is what happened on the first day at Rajkot. Root hit the ball back towards the bowler. Yadav, who cupped it with both palms, tossed it up almost immediately, before he started to juggle it with one hand and failed to hold on to it again despite frantic efforts.
It would have been deemed ‘Not Out’ if it had been pre-2000. As it happened with Gibbs in the 1999 World Cup. Back then, Gibbs was at midwicket and held the ball flicked by Steve Waugh, but when he tried to throw it up immediately, he lost control and the ball fell to the ground. It all happened quickly, and was ruled not out by then prevalent law.
It’s to the Law 32 that we need to turn to. Pre 2000, it was the 1980 code, and the law stated thus: “The act of making the catch shall start from the time when the fieldsman first handles the ball and shall end when he both retains complete control over the further disposal of the ball and remains within the field of play.”
The relevant part is this: “retains complete control over the further disposal of the ball”. Gibbs didn’t have control then and neither did Yadav now.
But subsequent to that Gibbs incident, when a few changes were made in the cricket laws, its phrasing changed. It now reads: “The act of making the catch shall start from the time when a fielder first handles the ball and shall end when the fielder obtains complete control both over the ball and over his movement.”
The parts about ‘disposal’ were removed from the rule. So, now it didn’t matter whether Yadav was in control when he was disposing of the ball. The only thing that mattered was whether he was in control when the ball was in his hands. Which he certainly was. The replays showed that that the ball stayed in his hands for a good three-four seconds before he decided to toss the ball up to celebrate the much-awaited Root dismissal.