Michael Neser was at the centre of extraordinary scenes in the BBL on Sunday night after exploiting a little-known rule in the Brisbane Heat's win over the Sydney Sixers. With the Sixers needing 26 runs off the final 11 balls, Jordan Silk thought he'd gotten his side six runs closer when Neser went over the boundary rope to take a catch.
Neser initially touched the ball inside the boundary before throwing it up into the air and stepping out of the field of play. But in extraordinary scenes, Neser then jumped into the air to touch the ball again, parrying it back into the field of play. He then got himself back over the boundary rope and completed the catch before the ball hit the ground.
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Silk was left highly confused when Heat players started celebrating, with the Sixers batter clearly thinking he wasn't out. However the umpires sent him on his way - and rightly so.
Under law 19.4.2 of the MCC's cricket rule book: "The ball in play is to be regarded as being grounded beyond the boundary if a fielder, grounded beyond the boundary, touches the ball (or if) a fielder, after catching the ball within the boundary, becomes grounded beyond the boundary while in contact with the ball, before completing the catch." Because Neser was never touching the ball and ground at the same time, his catch was perfectly legitimate under the laws of the game.
Neser mentioned a similar catch taken by Matt Renshaw after the game. He said: "Well, I knew Renshaw did it a couple of years ago and I didn't know if they'd changed the rules so I was going to give it a crack, and thankfully they didn't change the rules. I did know it was a rule, but I didn't know if they'd changed it."
While some praised Neser for knowing the obscure rule, others believe it should be changed. Commentator and former player Adam White tweeted: "Exceptional awareness and composure from Michael Neser. And out under the laws of the game. But it clearly shouldn’t be out under the rules of the game. Once a player is grounded outside the field of play, he should be out of the play."
Speaking on commentary for Fox Sports, Aussie great Adam Gilchrist admitted he didn't know the rule. "I'll put my hand up and say brilliant umpiring and a brilliant sense of game awareness by Michael Neser for him to know that rule," he said.
"In this modern day we shouldn't be surprised, but we are continually surprised by how brilliant they are. They practice so much and the fielders are learning all those intricate little rules.
"I don't know any cricketer that can put their hand on their heart and say they know every single rule of the game, but maybe there are more out there now with the modern athleticism and skill that they have. Brilliant all around."
Josh Brown lights up BBL with scintillating innings
The Sixers made a gallant attempt in their pursuit of a BBL record run chase, but fell just short to be all out on the final delivery for 209 while chasing 225. Josh Brown, who makes his own Cooper Bison bats, made a whirlwind half-century to inspire the Heat's 15-run win.
Playing just his second BBL game, Brown brought up his 50 in 19 deliveries - the equal-fifth fastest in Heat history. He cleared the boundary six times in his scintillating knock.
"I made my own bat, the Cooper Bison...it absolutely cannons off. It is one of the new ones I made myself and I fell in love with it," Brown told AAP after his innings. "All my mates call me 'Bison'."
Brown said "it wasn't until I was 24 that I started to take it seriously and then I went from third grade to Queensland Second XI in the space of 18 months".
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