Remember the good old days when Mahendra Singh Dhoni would trick opponents by pretending to collect a throw and letting it go on to hit the stumps? The move, hailed by cricket pundits all over the world, can now get Dhoni penalised under the "fake fielding" law, which was recently instituted by the International Cricket Council (ICC). The new Law 41.5 states that: "it is unfair for any fielder willfully to attempt, by word or action, to distract, deceive or obstruct either batsman after the striker has received the ball". If the umpires on the field determine that such deception is deliberate, they can award five penalty runs to the batting team.
The new change which came into effect on 28th September, 2017 claimed its first prey within 24 hours of its introduction, when Queensland fielder Marnus Labuschagne was found "guilty" of trying to fool the batsman by faking a throw during a JLT One-Day Cup (domestic limited overs tournament of Australia) match.
While deception is an integral part of the game and cricketers around the world strive to develop ways to outsmart their counterparts, the law is bound to give a hard time to on-field umpires to interpret what is "deliberate" and what is "deception".
On Wednesday, noted commentator and former Indian player Sanjay Manjrekar came down hard on the ICC for nature of the new rule.
In a series of tweets, Manjrekar criticized the ICC. "Five penalty runs for 'fake fielding' is the most ridiculous law that's been brought in, in recent times. Urge ICC to reconsider it," he wrote.
Five penalty runs for ‘fake fielding’ is the most ridiculous law that’s been brought in, in recent times. Urge ICC to reconsider it.— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) October 4, 2017
How about penalising batting side 5 runs when b'man fakes a step out & does not? Does he not put the bowler off? Fake fielding law must go.— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) October 4, 2017
When a Twitter user countered his views by suggesting that the law brought in by MCC is to stop players from trying to cheat, Manjrekar responded by saying that the fake-fielding act is tricking and not cheating. Manjrekar also quoted Dhoni's example to support his statement.
Bear in mind it's a Law, brought in by the MCC, & then included in playing conditions by the ICC. I like it. A player's trying to cheat.— Brian Murgatroyd (@murgersb) October 4, 2017
Cheating??? No it’s called tricking. Like Dhoni pretending to collect a throw & lets it go to hit the stumps. Applaud it, not penalise. https://t.co/wJNaRDqR6P— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) October 4, 2017
Manjrekar then ensured that it was not just a Twitter rant with another tweet.
Along with my little rant on twitter, have also written to the ICC to reconsider penalising fake fielding. It opens up a Pandora's box.— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) October 4, 2017
It would be interesting to see if ICC replies to Manjrekar's letter.