NB this is a post about cricket, so if you’ve come here looking for insights into opera, or indeed other possible insights that come under the category “No Balls”, you may need to look elsewhere for the time being.
A batsman being dismissed off a No-Ball, where the bowler has overstepped the mark, is often described as ‘controversial’. Since bowlers are required to bowl from 22 yards or further from the stumps at the other end, it’s difficult to see where the controversy lies – you quite literally have to draw the line somewhere.
Spectators often wonder why the bowler chooses to step so close to the line, and therefore risk having otherwise legitimate wickets (correctly) being given Not Out, rather than bowl from a few inches further back and remove the risk, realistically speaking, altogether. You sometimes hear bowlers argue that they are striving for every last advantage, bowling as close to the batsman – and therefore giving him as little time to react to the ball – as possible being a reason.
Let’s do some sums. At 80mph, a cricket ball takes 0.563s to travel 22.0 yards. (Of course, the batsman will play the ball slightly closer than 22 yards away, but let’s use that as an approximation). To travel 22.5 yards at the same speed would take 0.576s – a difference of 0.013s.
Let’s compare that to the difference between an 80mph bowler and a 90mph bowler, 90mph often being cited as a benchmark for a Test-level fast bowler who will trouble top-class batsman. At 90 mph, the ball will take 0.500s to travel 22 yards – i.e. a difference of 0.063s, which is considered significant enough to make life difficult for the batsman.
By comparison, the difference of 0.013s from bowling half a yard further back, while not being entirely insignificant, doesn’t seem to justify the risk of an otherwise legitimate dismissal being given Not Out.
(TL;DR – the advantage from bowling right on the crease is too small to be worth the risk of a No Ball.)
So why bowl from an inch behind the crease, rather than half a yard? (Or a foot or six inches, if the bowler is concerned that an extra 0.013s is too much?)
I’d need the view of a far better bowler than me on this, but I suggest that, just as most bowlers use a visual mark of some sort to mark the start of their run-up, they also use the crease as a visual mark for the end of it, for consistency – it’s far easier than judging an invisible point half a yard behind the crease, since the crease itself has to be kept clearly visible at all times.
So might a solution to No-Balling be to mark an extra line half a yard / a foot (or whatever) behind the crease, as a target for the bowlers?
Answers on a postcard to the usual address.