Out, yes... but how? © Getty Images
Out, yes… but how? © Getty Images

There can be some situations in cricket, very legitimate ones, that might confuse the most diligent followers of the game. In this series we look at several such scenarios. In this particular episode Arunabha Sengupta poses a simple question with a complex answer.

After the first episode in the series, we take another look at the 1939 Wisden Almanac, the last one that they produced before the Second World War. And we again return to the passage where former England pace bowler and captain Arthur Gilligan documented some real posers.

Listed under the title Cricket Conundrums, they were a collection of situations which lent themselves to nontrivial interpretations of the Laws of Cricket, which even caught some of the most diligent followers of cricket on the wrong foot.

In this scenario, the striker, let’s call him Smith, plays a ball from the bowler, Jones, just in front of his crease and dashes out for a run. Short runs are aplenty in cricket.

However, Jackson, the fielder at short cover, sprints in. The run seems impossible. Robinson, the non-striker, splits the air with his call of ‘No’.

Smith turns around and scampers back to his crease. In the process, he accidentally kicks the ball into his wicket. When the bails fall, Smith is well out of his ground. There is an appeal.

Is Smith out? If yes, how has he been dismissed?

According to Gilligan, when he asked cricket enthusiasts for an immediate decision, the most common answer was: “Yes, he is run out.”

There are others who maintained that Smith was hit wicket.

The first answer is wrong, because the ball has not been touched by any fieldsman after it was hit by Smith. So, run out is ruled out.

The second answer is incorrect as well. The batsman has not touched the wicket in any way, with any part of his body or equipment. Hence, he cannot be given out hit wicket. It was the ball that broke the wicket.

I will allow the reader to think about it for a few moments. How is Smith dismissed?

Now you can scroll down a bit for the answer.

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The correct answer is that Smith is bowled. To elaborate, the batsman has played on. The sequence of the events was the ball being struck by the bat, the ball being struck by the foot, and the ball hitting the wicket and knocking the bails off.

In other words, it is the same sequence that takes place when the batsman plays the ball and the ball ricochets off the boot and then goes on to hit the stumps.

In both the above cases, the resulting dismissal is bowled.

Yes, cricket can be a complicated game.