As the high-octane edge of the seat thriller contest between England and New Zealand in the cricket World Cup drew to an end, with England barely scraping out a victory, many cricket enthusiasts started debating the umpires’ decision to award 6 runs to the hosts amidst the topsy-turvy scenes of Trent Boult’s final over to Ben Stokes in their chase.
On the fourth delivery of the final over, as Stokes’ desperately dived off to complete the second run, a throw from the deep midwicket ricocheted off Ben Stokes’ bat towards the unguarded third-man boundary. After discussion with his fellow partner, Kumar Dharmasena signalled six runs, 2 runs scored by the batsman and 4 runs from the overthrow boundary, effectively bringing the equation for England well within their reach. From needing 9 from 3 balls, England now needed only 3 from 2 balls.
As per Law 19.2, concerning “Overthrow or wilful act of fielder”, it would seem that the umpires should not have awarded the second run to England, making it a total of five runs for the incident, not six. The law states: “If the boundary is conceded from an overthrow or from the wilful act of a fielder, the runs scored shall be any runs for penalties awarded to either side, and the allowance for the boundary, and the runs completed by the batsmen, together with the run in progress if they had already crossed at the instant of the throw or act.”
The last part of the clause is vital in determining how much runs can be awarded in an event that a boundary is conceded of an overthrow or fielder’s willful action. A close evaluation of the footage of the incident reveals that, at the instance the ball was released by the New Zealand fielder, Martin Guptill, Stokes and his partner, Adil Rashid, had not yet crossed for their second run.
There is a certain level of obscurity in the wording of the law. The references throw or “act” may relate to the moment that the ball deflected off Stokes’ bat too. However, there is no reference to the batsman’s actions at any other point in the law.
Former ICC umpire Simon Taufel declared that there was a clear “error of judgment” by the on-field umpires in the last over of the England chase’s against New Zealand in the World Cup final and said that England should not have been awarded 6 runs.