Sunday, January 02, 2023’s Big Bash League match between the Brisbane Heat and Sydney Sixers made the headlines for two reasons – Josh Brown’s inning and Michael Neser’s boundary catch. While Brown’s cameo was a testimony to the talent pool that Australia’s franchise cricket tournament can tap into, Neser’s controversial catch grabbed all the headlines. The catch controversy has now left the cricket pitch and created a divide amongst cricket pundits globally. The extraordinary event raised many questions over the laws of cricket and eventually ICC had to step in and give a clarification.
What Exactly is the Michael Neser Catch Controversy?
The incident took place during the 19th over of the Sixer’s innings. The striker, Jordan Silk, hit a length delivery from Steketee toward the long-off boundary, which was being patrolled by Michael Neser. As the ball traveled towards Neser, he jumped to grab the ball. His body momentum was taking him over the rope and he threw the ball in the air. Unfortunately, the ball was airborne outside the boundary rope. Neser then went over the rope, jumped again to throw the ball in the air and inside the rope. Finally, he completed the catch inside the boundary rope.
A bit of confusion prevailed in the middle but the umpires eventually declared Silk caught out. This incident has split not only the cricketing fans but also experts.
👏 Quite a few questions have emerged following this outstanding bit of fielding in the @BBL.@Gmaxi_32 provides expert commentary as to why this indeed was Out.— Marylebone Cricket Club (@MCCOfficial) January 1, 2023
See here for the Law: https://t.co/A1dNCFU9vo#MCCLawspic.twitter.com/OppIx2ufa6
What Does the ICC Rule Say?
The Neser catch controversy became so loud that eventually, the ICC had to step in and give a clarification about how it was a fair catch. ICC tweeted referring to law 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”. In simple terms, ICC said any catch is a fair catch as long as the fielder touches the ball inside the boundary rope and the fielder’s feet are not touching the ground while the ball is airborne outside the boundary rope.
What did Michael Neser say about the Incident?
Neser was pretty ecstatic after his catch. In an interview post-match he said that he knew Matthew Renshaw had done something like this a couple of years ago. At the time of taking the catch, he was not aware if ICC had changed the rules. He was glad to find out later that the rules were not altered.