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Little-known law causes storm in BBL thriller

A controversial cricket law has split opinions after playing a vital role in the Brisbane Heat’s thrilling win against the Sydney Sixers.

It was an exceptionally high-scoring contest in the BBL, with the Sixers falling 15 runs short of the Heat’s gargantuan total of 5-224.

Sydney appeared right in the hunt in the run chase until Jordan Silk was controversially given out after a terrific bit of fielding on the boundary from Michael Neser in the 19th over.

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With the Sixers needing 26 off 11 deliveries, Silk thought he’d hit a second consecutive six off the bowling of Mark Steketee, before seeing Heat fielders celebrating.

Fielding at deep mid-off, Neser took the catch but with his momentum taking him over the boundary rope, he threw the ball up in the air and then ran well beyond the rope to retrieve it.

Neser then jumped while outside field of play to throw the ball up a second time before running back inside he field of play to catch it.

There was confusion all around, with Silk adamant that he should not be given out, but the on-field soft signal sending him on his way. The third umpire also agreed, ending the Sixers big hitter’s innings.

Neser was praised for his knowledge of law 19.4.2 in the MCC’s cricket rule book which states: “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.”

Neser was not considered to be grounded beyond the boundary as his first contact with the ball came within the field of play.

Following the game, Heat paceman said he was thinking of a similar catch taken by Matt Renshaw a few seasons ago as he executed the juggling act.

“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,” he told teammate Mitch Swepson on Seven’s coverage.

“I did know it was a rule, but I didn’t know if they’d changed it.”

Neser’s brilliance didn’t go unnoticed by Renshaw and several others on social media.

However, others were not as impressed and felt that Silk and the Sixers had been hard done by.

Australian cricket legend Adam Gilchrist was also left initially confused, before learning of the little-known law.

“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 on Fox Cricket’s coverage.

“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.”

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