Fielder kicks ball over the boundary

It is reasonable to argue that the Spirit of Cricket is about fairness and equality of opportunity; a level playing field, if you will. The Laws themselves uphold this concept of fair play by punishing offenders, often in a gentle way, though sometimes more robustly. An incident happened recently that demonstrates this process. In order not to ascribe motives to players, what follows is not a description of the actual events, it is just a number of generalised comments on one aspect of this subject.

A fielding side will sometimes want to keep a particular batsman on strike, perhaps because they think they have a better chance of dismissing him than his colleague or because he is scoring the slower of the two batsmen. Captains will often modify field settings to prevent singles; bowlers will bowl accordingly; it is not unknown for a fielder to allow the ball to roll over the boundary to ensure the 'right' batsman faces the next delivery. All this is good tactical play and is entirely within the Laws and the Spirit of Cricket. If, however, a fielder were to help the ball over the boundary by a deliberate kick, the situation would change and the result might be not at all what he wants.

Suppose a ball is hit into the outfield and the batsmen run a single that takes them to the ends they desire for the next delivery. A fielder, seeing that it is going to stop short of the boundary, decides to help the ball over the line. His thinking could be that the four runs for the boundary would now over-ride the one run already completed and the batsmen would be returned to their original ends. The additional 3 runs conceded would be the acceptable cost of gaining an opportunity to attack the more vulnerable batsman. He would, though, be mistaken as the Laws do not permit such manipulation.

Law 19 (Boundaries) says that, if the boundary results from a wilful act of a fielder, not only will the boundary be scored, but so will any other runs completed by the batsmen together with the run in progress at the time of the act if they have crossed. So, in the case described above, 5 runs would be scored and the batsman would not be returned to their original ends. The fielding side would have conceded an extra 4 runs with no benefit to themselves.

Read more about Law 19 (Boundaries) at the MCC website