WHEN is a wide not a wide?

This decision by the umpires seems to cause more comments than anything.

A batsman moves towards a ball and then lets it go past and immediately looks at the umpire and appears to gesture a wide should have been called.

He then drops another hint by preparing to stand outside the off stump as if then he may be able to hit the ball.

The first thing an umpire is to look at is the normal guard position.

From this position, if the batsman moves towards the ball to bring it into his reach and then lets it go then he could have played at it.

Nor can a batsman step back from a normal guard position and try to create a wide. The law says the batsman must be able to play a normal cricket stroke.

These days, with so many innovative shots being played, then just what is a normal cricket stroke?

An umpire often has an idea a ball could be wide but cannot call it until the ball passes the batsman’s stumps.

This is because a batsman could come into contact with the ball, he may move towards the ball or the ball may turn on pitching and go closer to the batsman. If the ball has survived all these points then it can be called wide. It’s not where the ball ends up in the keeper's gloves.

It is possible for the batsman to hit the ball after it has passed the stumps in which case the umpire will have to revoke the call.

A few years ago the league introduced guideline markings for wides as seen in the 50-over matches or T20 games on TV. These tram lines are marked in blue. Any ball travelling between these lines are called wide whether the batsman brings it into his reach or not. There is a strong feeling from local umpires to bring this back.

I saw an incident in a junior match the other week whereby the young bowler bowled a high, full-toss delivery which went very wide. What does the umpire call? No-ball for the high, full-toss or wide because the ball was so wide. Well it's no-ball that has precedence over a wide.

Remember a batsman can be out stumped or hit wicket off a wide for which the bowler gets credit, and also out run-out and obstructing the field for which the bowler doesn’t get any credit for.