Was Green's catch legal? Here's what the law says as third umpire controversially adjudges Shubman Gill out

Jun 10, 2023 10:25 PM IST

Did the third umpire make an error bby giving Shubman Gill out? Was Cameron Green's catch legal? Here is what the MCC laws say about catches

An important and controversial and perhaps a potential match-changing event took place just at the stroke of Tea on Day 4 of the World Test Championship final between India and Australia at The Oval. India opener Shubman Gill, who along with captain Rohit Sharma had given India a rollicking start, much the like first innings, while chasing a record target of 444. India raced to 41 without loss in 7 overs with Gill and Rohit scoring freely on both sides of the wicket.

Cameron Green taking Shubman Gill's catch
Cameron Green taking Shubman Gill's catch

In the first ball of the 8th over of the Indian innings, Scott Boland induced a false shot from Gill. Instead of coming in with Boland's wrist position, the ball held its line and caught the outside edge of Gill's bat. To be fair to the right-hander, he did not push at it and kept his hand as soft as possible. The ball was dying down before it reached the slip cordon but the tallest cricketer - Cameron Green - on the field, dived to his left keeping his hands low and grabbed the ball inches above the ground.

Shubman Gill, however, stood his ground, thinking that the ball may have touched the ground before Green was in complete control of the ball. The on-field umpires went upstairs. Remember, the soft signal rule has been done away with and hence, the third umpire had nothing to 'overturn'. It was gonna be either out or not out based on the evidence he sees on the replays from various angles.

Watch: Shubman shocked, Rohit furiously argues after controversial dismissal

Third umpire Richard Kettleborough looked replays from many angles and decided that Green had "fingers underneath the ball" and hence, much to the disappointment of the majority of the crowd at the ground gave Gill out. He and Rohit were visibly upset. Rohit was also seen talking to the umpires as they were walking off for the Tea break.

Needlessly to say, the decision created a fair bit of controversy on social media with Indian fans expressing their anger. But did the third umpire really make an error? Was Green's catch legal?

Here is what the MCC laws say about catches

"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 any of the following conditions applies: The ball is held in the hand or hands of a fielder, even if the hand holding the ball is touching the ground, or is hugged to the body, or lodges in the external protective equipment worn by a fielder, or lodges accidentally in a fielder’s clothing."

The important bit here is the third umpire's assertion of Green having fingers underneath the ball. There was actually no doubt about the fact that Green had grabbed it cleanly but it was when he dragged his left hand from the ground that created the confusion.

The umpires judge a three-dimensional event with two-dimensional visuals. Therefore, it can at times give the impression that the ball was grounded. In order to eradicate that, the umpire has to take a call on whether the fielder has one or more fingers underneath the ball. Kettleborough obviously had no doubts about that.

Now coming to the point of whether the ball touched the ground when Green's hand was dragged. There is no certain way to determine that. It may have but mostly, umpires rule it in the fielder's favour if they have fingers underneath.

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