Cricket is a simple game… right? The batting side’s job is to score runs; the fielding side’s job is to take wickets!
Well, imagine the scene:
It is the World T20 Final, and there are 3 overs left: the batting side need 30 off 18 balls, with Annie Accumulator at the crease, currently on 15 off 25 balls.
The bowling side bring back their star bowler, who bowls 5 dots in a row – now they need 30 off 13 balls, and Annie is now on 15 off 30 – a Strike Rate of just 50.
In desperation, Annie takes a big heave at the final ball of the over. It skies up towards the bowling side’s skipper, Rachel Reliable, at extra cover – it is going straight to her – the easiest catch she’ll ever take!
Rachel knows that the next batsman in is Briana Basher – probably the only batter in the world who could hit the now-required 30 off 12 balls. So she takes a step backwards, allowing the ball to bounce in front of her, before hurling it in to the ‘keeper to save the second run.
In the post-match press-conference, after the batting side have fallen 20 short with Annie Accumulator not out on 17 off 35, Rachel Reliable holds the trophy in front of the media.
“What about that catch?” they ask.
“I just misjudged it,” she replies innocently.
And maybe she did (!) but it raises an interesting question.
These circumstances are clearly rather contrived; but there is a situation we do actually see quite often, where a fielder in the deep will chose not to go for a diving catch because if they miss it, it will go for 4 – so they prioritise saving the 4 over (possibly) taking the wicket.
The question is somewhat analogous to a play in baseball called a “Walk”, where the pitcher will deliberately bowl four consecutive “wides” to a batter, in order to prevent them hitting a home run, at which point they have to “walk” to first base – a play so normal in baseball, there are stats on it!
But would it “be cricket” if it happened in cricket?