It was a tremendous knock of 149 at a strike rate approaching 150. But a knock which may still not be legal to many who witnessed that mindboggling innings. Whether Gilchrist was only ethically wrong, or legally wrong too in putting a squash ball in his glove in the final is debatable. But what is certainly not debatable is the tardiness of ICC in coming out with a response on whether putting the ball in the glove was illegal indeed. Ethically wrong Gilchrist definitely was, as it was an accessory to an equipment which the opposition was not aware of. But legally, was he in the wrong?.
It is very important to know the answer because if the aluminium bat once used by Dennis Lilee, or Hansie Cronje’s on-field communication through earpiece with late Woolmer can be deemed illegal, squash ball to help batting does need a close look. Interesting points have been raised by bloggers in respone to an article in Courier Mail, an Australian newspaper, and some other sites.
One writes, "can a batsman carry an object, in this case, a squash ball not connected with cricket to help him on the field? He asks if Gilchrist did secure the prior permission of the umpires and was the fielding side captain aware of the use of the squash ball?"
"And, above all, and in a manner of speaking, did Gilchrist’s hidden ball give him an unfair advantage in knocking the daylights out of the Lankan bowlers?" Another blogger says that the laws of cricket are very precise on protective gear and "this device cannot be termed as a protective gear and only be termed as a power enhancing substance. Nowhere in the cricketing laws have they approved the squash ball as a protective gear".
Vijitha Herath of the University of Paderborn, Germany, writes that "When a batsman swings the bat until it hits the ball, there is pressure on his bottom hand. This pressure compresses the squash ball thus storing energy in the ball similar to spring. Just after the ball hits the bat (ball still touching the bat) this pressure starts to relax while the bat is moving forward. At the same time the energy stored in the squash ball releases its energy to the bat in the form of kinetic energy." He says the net result is that "the bat moves faster than normal (without a ball in the glove). As a result, the release-speed of the cricket ball becomes faster resulting in the ball travelling further before hitting the ground. Therefore it results in more sixes and fours being scored."
Herath also says that the "downside is that because the bat travels faster than normal the batsman might lose control of the bat. This happened once in the Adam Gilchrist’s innings when the bat slipped out of his hands and fell behind the wickets."