Michael Neser’s brilliant catch in BBL within the Laws, but do they needing changing?

As Silk lofted Mark Steketee towards long-off, Neser first held the ball inside the boundary then tossed it up when he realised he would run over the rope. What followed was the astonishing part. Neser, while outside the boundary, then timed a jump perfectly to palm the ball back inside the rope while he was not touching the ground, then returned into the field of play to hold the catch.

“I knew [Matt] Renshaw did it a couple of years ago,” Neser told Channel Seven. “I didn’t know if they had changed the rules so I thought I would give it a crack. Thankfully they didn’t change the rules.”

It was entirely within the Laws of the game and was correctly adjudged to be out when it went to the TV umpire, but it created much debate about whether it should be allowed. One view is that it rewards outstanding skill and awareness, as shown by Neser, but the alternative point is that the ball and the fielder have both been over the boundary.

This is how the relevant Law reads, with the key point being that Neser’s first touch was inside the field of play and that he was not grounded beyond the boundary while touching the ball again.

“19.5.2 A fielder who is not in contact with the ground is considered to be grounded beyond the boundary if his/her final contact with the ground, before his/her first contact with the ball after it has been delivered by the bowler, was not entirely within the boundary.

“33.2.1 A catch will be fair only if, in every case, either the ball, at any time, or any fielder in contact with the ball, is not grounded beyond the boundary before the catch is completed.

“33.2.2 Furthermore, a catch will be fair if…33.2.2.4 a fielder catches the ball after it has crossed the boundary in the air, provided that the conditions in 33.2.1 are met.”

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