IPL 7: Intentional wide ball — where to draw the line?

In the MI vs RR game, there was a situation where a wide could have ensured qualification for Royals.

Written by Harsha Bhogle | Updated: May 30, 2014 6:18 pm

There was much drama in the last IPL league game between Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals. It tested everybody’s presence of mind, but the lingering thoughts left behind are very interesting. And I think we might see a new approach to chasing targets when it gets really close.

Whenever something happens for the first time, it seems incredible because it is a leap in our knowledge, in our awareness of our profession. When a fielder first threw the ball back in, crossed the boundary line and returned to catch it, we were speechless. Now, most good fielders do it and in fact spend a lot of time practising catches by the boundary. When the first scoop was played over the keeper, we thought the batsman would soon need a dentist. Now, it has almost become the preferred shot for a tail-ender! The loopy bouncer, the wide yorker, the reverse sweep, all of them first evoked surprise and are now routine. So too the doosra, but that cannot be in this list because it is the outcome of administrators willing to look the other way with the laws of the game.

And so, I won’t be surprised if in future, we have the following situation. A team needs three to win to qualify on net run rate, the batsman gets a fine yorker that he knows he cannot hit for four but with the field spread back will happily tap the ball for two aware that he now has an extra couple of deliveries from which to hit one for six. With big bats and calm minds that might be a good bargain. And it is completely within the law and the spirit of the game.

But it now shifts the moral compass towards the bowler. As in the Mumbai Indians vs Rajasthan Royals game you could have a situation where one dot ball later, a wide could have ensured qualification for the Royals in spite of guaranteeing defeat in that game. Does the bowler wilfully bowl a wide then? There are a couple of issues to consider. For a start, it is not unknown for a fast bowler to let rip a bouncer, even if above head high, to send a message to a cheeky batsman. To that extent, it is an intentionally illegal delivery. And you do, wilfully, bowl a wide ball to get a stumping in any case.

Remember that by now the batsman is expecting it too and might adjust for it. Also, unless the wide ball is really wide, it is not entirely out of range for a batsman. And, purely for the sake of argument, what if you position short fine leg a yard and a half away from the leg stump and bowl it straight at him! There are so many possibilities that may not have been considered earlier. There are, I am sure, many more. For as Mohandas Menon pointed out to me, a no-ball is in fact a safer option because once the game is lost, there is no free-hit either.

Now, given the times we live in, there is another factor to an intentional wide or the no-ball. Can it attract the attention of anti-corruption? Admittedly, it is for tactical reasons and it isn’t a wide or a no-ball bowled in the middle of the game for no reason (as with the Asif and Amir episode). But think about it. A planned wide or no-ball guaranteed to alter the result of a cricket match? I would love to know what the establishment and the fans think about it and therefore, the precedent it would set. Would it almost legalise the intentional but exaggerated wide? And would that get the dark side of our game excited? And to take Mohandas Menon’s point about the no-ball further, as he himself points out, can you intentionally lose a match to win qualification? (Remember the Suraj Randiv episode where he bowled an intentional no-ball to end the game and thus prevent Sehwag from getting a century?)

On another note, I asked a couple of former bowlers if they would be willing to bowl a wide if it effectively meant winning and going through. One of them said he would be torn by the thought. The other said his primary responsibility towards the team was to win for them. And you can’t argue against that.

As you can see, we may have stumbled onto an interesting debate with tactical, moral and legal issues!

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  1. A
    Amitendra Kumar
    Jun 1, 2014 at 8:19 am
    I have a question here...if Royals would have bowled the wide...Mumbai would have got extra run without conceding any delivery so then they could have qualified so why are we discussing this..
    Reply
  2. A
    Ats
    May 31, 2014 at 12:47 am
    Sorry, please can someone explain how a wide-ball after the scores were tied would have won the Royals this game? Wouldn't the wide ball not be counted in the balls bowled....thus then it would still be within the target balls that the target got achieved...I know this is not the point of the article, but it is used as the basis, hence the question to clarify my understanding
    Reply
  3. E
    eswar sakamuri
    Jun 1, 2014 at 7:19 am
    Yes, I would rather bowl wide or no ball the ultimate goal is playing qualifier
    Reply
  4. J
    Josh Albright
    Jun 2, 2014 at 7:10 am
    "In the MI vs RR game, there was a situation where a wide could have ensured qualification for Royals."This statement is false. MI would have chased the target in 14,3 overs in that scenario, which is exactly what they were aiming for in the first place.
    Reply
  5. A
    anonymous
    Jun 2, 2014 at 7:08 am
    if there would have been a wide.. it wouldnt be a legal delivery.. and that means the target is chased in 14.3 runsso wat do you think that professional players didnt know it and you only figured it out.. lol.. wide means the delivery isnt counted.moron
    Reply
  6. M
    mitul goyal
    Jun 1, 2014 at 12:32 pm
    for the specific case of mi vs rr...wide would have actually helped mumbai qualify as they were one run short and didn't have deliveries to get it. With wide ,they would have gotten that run at exactly the no. of deliveries mentioned at the starting.as to the question of shoulkd the bowler do it or no is legal though immoralbut with the kind of game ipl has become...such tactic isn't incomprehensible and should be allowed.though doing such a thing in test or one day might be frowned upon
    Reply
  7. P
    Parag
    Jun 4, 2014 at 10:21 pm
    E.g. in this match, Scores were level at 14.3. If Falkner bowls 14.4 a dot then MI would need a boundary on 14.5 to win a game with qualification. However Falkner can bowl 14.5 a wide or a no ball and end the match then and there without giving MI batsman an opportunity to hit a boundary on 14.5. Therefore RR keeping their NRR above that of MI. Hope this explains it :-)
    Reply
  8. S
    Simple maths
    May 30, 2014 at 3:46 am
    I don't get how wide can change result. It doesn't increases the no. of bowls/overs. In the IPL match, overs would have remained to 14.3 and the new requirement would become 4 - (1 wide) in 14.4.
    Reply
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