What is being called “out” in cricket

The moment, habitually the most dramatic in cricket, arouses utterly contrasting emotions. For the batsman, it can be one of annihilating finality. Geoff Boycott used to say that whenever it happened to him, he felt sick inside, although history indicates that not all his team mates, accomplished batsman though he was, invariably shared the same sensation.

For the bowler it is one of varying degrees of triumph, depending mainly on the state of the game at the time, the class of the batsman and the quality of the delivery that achieved the dismissal. For any fielder involved it is broadly similar, although the standard of the catch, stumping or run out may likewise affect the extent of the celebration.

There remain ten ways in which a batsman can be dismissed, and although this is an age-old cricket question, many would still be hard put to it to reel them off in a trice. They are: bowled, timed out, caught, handled the ball, hit \\Ji Ball twice, hit wicket, leg before wicket, obstructing the field, run out and stumped, Half of these might reasonably be termed regular modes of dismissal, the others are rather rarer.

In terms of sheer drama, the end of Don Bradman’s Test career at The Oval in 1948 must take some beating. The ground was packed (to twice its capacity if you believe everyone who told you that they were there). The batsman, the greatest in the history of the game, was playing what proved to be his final innings and needed just four runs to take his average past the hundred mark. Perhaps struggling with the emotion of the occasion following his welcome to the wicket, he was bowled, second ball, by Eric Hollies for a duck.

Nearly thirty years later, the first World Cup final started with a bang at Lord’s when the diminutive Guyanese left-hander Roy Fredericks hooked the great Dennis Lillee, then in his prime, and the ball headed for St John’s Wood Road. Barely anyone watching had noticed that Fredericks, slipping while he played the stroke, had dislodged both bails. As the ball cleared the boundary by several yards, he was being given out hit wicket.

At Edgbaston in 1999, a game that ranks arguably as the finest one-day international ever played ended in unimaginable drama. Australia were playing South Africa in the semi-final of the World Cup and Lance Klusener, their bludgeoning left-hander, had taken 31 runs off 14 balls to leave South Africa just one run short of victory with one wicket in hand and four balls to be bowled. The first was hit straight by Klusener and Allan Donald, the non-striker, was almost run out as he backed up too far. Instead of heeding the warning, Klusener repeated the shot next ball and charged. Donald had to guard against a deflection running him out and so grounded his bat but dropped it and set off woefully late to be run out by yards. The match was tied, but Australia went through on net run rate to dispatch Pakistan in the final.

Two years later Michael Vaughan became only the seventh batsman in Test history to be dismissed handled the ball. Vaughan was in prime form during the third Test against India at Bangalore in 2001. He had already stroked eight fours when he went down on one knee to sweep Sarandeep Singh for another. The ball struck his pad, went up in the air through a tangle of gloves, bat and arms, came down onto his thigh and, as it landed in front of him, the batsman trapped it with his glove before tossing it away. It was not going to roll back onto the stumps.

It was not going to be caught. Nevertheless, the bowler was quite entitled to appeal under Law 33.1 and Vaughan had to go. He is in good company. The only other Englishman to suffer the same fate was Graham Gooch, while the previous man out in this manner was Steve Waugh in Chennai in 2001. By one of those strange quirks, the umpire who upheld the appeal against Waugh was none other than AV Jayaprakash, who quite rightly sent Vaughan on his way for the same offence. South Africa’s Russell Endean, Andrew Hilditch of Australia, Pakistan’s Mohsin Khan and the Barbadian Desmond Haynes complete the melancholy list.

The great England batsman Len Hutton has a unique distinction. He is the one player to be dismissed obstructing the field in Tests. After top edging a ball in the fifth Test against South Africa at The Oval in 1951, he played at it a second time to defend it from hitting the stumps, but in the process prevented the wicketkeeper Endean – who seems to feature in these strange dismissals – from taking a catch. There is no record of a batsman being timed out or dismissed hit the ball twice in Tests.

Run outs are always an infuriating death for the batsman, but never more so than when he is the victim of a deflection when backing up. Warwickshire’s John Jameson, a sturdy opener who played in four Tests, had more than his share of run outs, being the victim of three in his first four innings for England. At The Oval in 1971 he had already suffered the fate once, after making his best score of 82, when in the second innings the India spinner Bhagwat Chandrasekhar deflected a straight drive from Brian Luckhurst into the stumps, with Jameson out of his ground. It was the only instance of an Englishman being run out twice in the same Test. Chandrasekhar proceeded to run through the England side, and India won their first-ever Test series in England.

When a batsman is actually given out by the umpire, there is a dreadful finality about it. The man in the white coat needs a hard streak in his soul to end the batsman’s participation in the game. Some find it harder than others. There is a story from a country house game where the titled landowner ordered his butler to stand as umpire. The awful moment inevitably arrived when the butler had to answer an appeal from square leg as to whether his employer had made his ground for a run. Being unable to utter the words “that’s out” the butler merely raised his finger and said: “I  am afraid His Grace is not in.”