Simon Taufel speaks out after Michael Neser catch controversy in BBL

With debate swirling around Michael Neser's controversial BBL catch, umpire Simon Taufel weighs in on the interesting rules in play.

Simon Taufel is pictured raising his finger on the left, and Michael Neser is highlighted in a red circle making a catch beyond the boundary in the BBL.
Veteran umpire Simon Taufel says cricket should first look at the rules for catches beyond the boundary line before technology needs to be considered in the BBL. Image: Getty Images/7Cricket

Cricket's 'over the boundary' catches will remain a legal part of the game despite football's offside technology offering a possible solution to the spectacular but controversial act. Michael Neser's circus juggler's catch against the Sixers in the BBL – which saw him jump in the air from beyond the boundary rope and throw the ball infield before regaining it inside the field of play – created a furore around the cricketing world.

Many believe the catch should not have stood, with ex-international Greg Blewitt saying "it didn't sit right with me". Former Australia batsman Marcus North called for an immediate law change to prevent fielders from claiming catches after leaving the field of play.

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Others applauded Neser's athleticism and quick thinking. Former Test umpire Simon Taufel, who is part of international cricket's laws sub-committee, told Yahoo Sport Australia the rule had been closely examined for more than a decade but there was no plans to tweak it.

"We’ve discussed it several times over the last 15 years and the challenge is the boundary in our game is a line on the ground, not a vertical imaginary line in the air," he said. "Defining what is “grounded” needs to cover both 4s and 6s and when the fielder is either touching or not touching the ball.

"It was a great piece of cricket from Michael Neser and an excellent piece of umpiring from match officials. "I'm very comfortable with the law. If someone would like to re-word it for us differently, go for it. If there was an easier solution, we would have had it by now."

FIFA technology an option for cricket in boundary decisions

There have been suggestions cricket could adopt FIFA's semi-automated offside technology, which uses tracking cameras to calculate the exact position of each player on the field. The technology immediately alerts video officials if a player is offside and this information is relayed to the on-field referee.

A 3D animation illustrates where the offside player is positioned at the moment the ball is played. The system was rated a great success at the Qatar World Cup.

The technology could aid cricket's 'vertical imaginary line' on the boundary dilemma, but the different field dimensions and layout would make it extremely complicated, not to mention expensive. There's also a view catches like Neser's are an exception rather than the rule and introducing costly technology for rare events is not money well spent.

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