The official verdict on cricket's controversial 360-degree mystery ball

The MCC and a leading Australian umpire have weighed in on the legality of a young spinner’s controversial new delivery.

The cricket world erupted in controversy on Thursday over video of Shiva Singh bowling in an Under-23s game in India.

As you can see in the video above, Singh comes in to bowl before doing a 360-degree pirouette and then delivering the ball.

However the players were left baffled when umpire Vinod Seshan ruled it a dead ball.

According to ESPNcricinfo, the umpire told Singh that he would continue to call dead ball if the 360-degree spin was continued.

So what is the rule?

The issue boils down to whether or not Singh intentionally tried to deceive the batsman, which has been outlawed in recent years.

Legal or not? Image: Twitter

The relevant ruling appears to be in section 41 of the MCC’s official rulebook under ‘unfair play’.

Section 41.2 states:

“The umpires shall be the sole judges of fair and unfair play. If either umpire considers an action, not covered by the Laws, to be unfair he/she shall intervene without appeal and, if the ball is in play, call and signal Dead ball and implement the procedure as set out in 41.19. Otherwise umpires shall not interfere with the progress of play without appeal except as required to do so by the Laws.”

And under 41.4:

“It is unfair for any fielder deliberately to attempt to distract the striker while he/she is preparing to receive or receiving a delivery. If either umpire considers that any action by a fielder is such an attempt, he/she shall immediately call and signal Dead ball and inform the other umpire of the reason for the call.”

But Singh said he’s never had any problems with his delivery in the past.

“I use different variations in one-dayers and T20s so I thought of doing the same because the Bengal batsmen were developing a partnership,” Shiva told ESPNcricinfo.

Shiva Singh in action at the U19 World Cup in February. (Photo: MARTY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images)

“The umpires said dead ball, so I asked “why are you calling it a dead ball?”

“I delivered this 360-degree ball against Kerala in the Vijay Hazare Trophy as well, where it was fine.

“Batsmen always go for the reverse-sweep or the switch-hit against bowlers. But when bowlers do something like this it’s deemed a dead ball.”

Aussie umpire has his say

A number of social media users felt the same way as Singh, echoing his sentiments that since batsmen can switch hit during a delivery, why can’t bowlers mix things up?

But according to leading Australian umpire Simon Tauffel, that comparison isn’t right.

“The intent of the reverse action is different,” Taufel told cricketnext.

“One is necessary to play the shot, the other is not in order to maintain the same mode of delivery.”

Simon Taufel in 2011. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Taufel said he agreed with the umpire’s call.

“The umpire is entitled to call and signal dead ball under Law 20.4.2.1 (unfair play) or 20.4.2.7 (deliberate attempt to distract/deceive/obstruct).

“It’s up to the umpire but one would have to ask why the bowler did this and have to assume the only reason would be to distract or put the striker off.

“Doesn’t seem right or fair to me. If it is his normal bowling action then maybe a different outcome.”

The MCC’s official verdict

The Marylebone Cricket Club – the game’s official rule-makers – also weighed in.

“Unless the 360-degree twirl was part of the bowler’s run-up for every ball, the umpire may need to consider whether he/she feels that the twirl was done in an attempt to distract the batsman in some way,” the MCC said on its website.

“This is particularly so if there was no apparent advantage to be gained from the twirl, unlike, for example, the bowler varying the width of the release point or the length of his/her run-up, which are entirely lawful.

“If the batsman is distracted, he/she is entitled to withdraw from his/her stance and, if the umpire feels there has been a deliberate attempt to distract, then the procedure in Law 41.4 will be followed, including the awarding of 5 Penalty runs.

“If the striker has not been distracted, play can continue as normal unless the umpire intervenes and calls Dead ball…

“The umpire in this example felt that Law 41.4 had been breached, but it is not clear from the footage or reports whether or not he awarded 5 Penalty runs to the batting side.”