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Cricket, a game that has a strong and diverse following across the globe, is also well known for being a game consisting of various rules and laws. Indeed, the game of cricket has some great traditions. Amongst these traditions is the way or manner a bowler or for that matter, any player, can appeal. Often we have seen the fielding side appeal to the umpire, asking for his opinion on whether the batsman is out or not. Many times, players can be seen shouting at the top of their voice “Howzat”. Ever wondered why they did so; or what does the term “”Howzat signify in cricket appeal? Let us find out.
Cricket Appeal | What does the term “howzat” mean exactly?
Cricketers make use of the term “Howzat” to appeal (or ask) the umpire regarding the dismissal of the batsman. An abbreviated form, or rather imprecise form of the phrase “How is that”, the appeal is considered as an approach to ask the umpire whether the batsman is out or not. It has been historically used to pose the questions to the umpire, ever since the beginning of the game.
However, it should also be mentioned here that this is not the only way of appealing to the umpire. Several other methods of appealing exist in cricket which are considered legal. Quite often, players will simply shout ‘howwwss’ in an elongated manner or ‘zattt’ in an animated manner or adopt any other method. As long as the decency and the integrity is maintained, players are permitted to appeal to the umpire in any manner they please; provided the umpire gets what they are trying to confer. These appeals are often humorous and both the other players and the spectators have a good laugh about it. Players will also often raise their hands in an ecstatic manner and simply blurt out something, suggesting that a decision has been asked for from the umpire.
Can umpires give a batsman out without a cricket appeal?
It is seen that a batsman is given out by LBW or run out or any other method only when the opposition team appeals (except definitive situations like being bowled or being caught out); a question then arises: can a batsman be given out without an appeal? The answer to that question is no.
MCC’s Law 31 (Marylebone Cricket Club) clearly states that the batsman must not be given out unless appealed by the fielding side. The law in question is 31.1 and it reads as follows:
“31.1 Umpire not to give batter out without an appeal”
‘Neither umpire shall give a batter out, even though he/she may be out under the Laws, unless appealed to by a fielder. This shall not debar a batter who is out under any of the Laws from leaving the wicket without an appeal having been made.’
Say for instance, in case of a tight caught-behind dismissal or a case of the ball slightly nicking the bat and getting caught behind, if the fielding team does not appeal to the umpire and the batsman, despite knowing that he may have nicked it and chooses not to walk, the umpire is under no obligation to raise his finger. Whether the umpire knows that the batsman had nicked it or not becomes completely irrelevant in this case.
This is precisely the reason why in cricket matches played across the globe, in all formats, the players tend to appeal even if there is a flicker of a chance that it might lead to a wicket. There is no loss if the appeal is turned down; however, there is always a high possibility that a missed opportunity on taking a wicket might prove costly later.
The Concept of “Walking” in Cricket
As mentioned before, cricket is a game of rules. There are a lot of written rules about the game. However, there are also certain unwritten rules of the game, which are expected to be followed in order to be fair to the opponent. Hence, the name the ‘gentleman’s game’.
Walking is when a batsman, despite not being given out by the umpire due to lack of appeal by the opposition team or any other reason, decides to walk back to the pavilion knowing that he is clearly out. The batsman may be fully aware that due to no appeal by the opposition, he may bat further but decides to walk back anyway, implying that would be the correct thing to do.
Though a rare sight, it has been seen in international cricket a few times.
Time limit for an appeal (Howzat)
“The law states that the appeal for the previous ball can be made until the bowler starts the run-up for the next delivery. If the bowler has no run-up, then the appeal can be made until the bowler gets into the bowling action.”
It should also be mentioned here that in the case of the last ball of the over, the appeal for the wicket can be made by the players till the bowler starts the run-up for his delivery or gets into his bowling stance in case of no run-up.
How to appeal in cricket? Concept of unethical appealing in cricket?
Under the ICC Cricket Code of Conduct, unethical or unsportsmanlike appeal is caused when the players from the fielding side appeal in a much aggressive manner or in an excessive manner; the appeal being made with the intention to intimidate the batsman or umpire.
This is rather a common sight nowadays, where despite knowing that the batsman is not out, the fielding team would appeal in the hope that the decision may go in their favor. Often they might exaggeratedly appeal in order to distract the umpire, for instance in case of a wide ball, from declaring the signal of a wide ball. And nowadays, the ball hitting the pads almost always guarantees cries of appeal; irrespective of whether the ball pitched outside off or hit the bat first.
However, nowadays, if the on field umpires feel that the fielding side is resorting to such tactics or employing such unethical means in an excessive manner, they may report the same to the match referee; who assesses the situation and then imposes match bans or fines.
Can a cricket appeal be withdrawn?
Yes; there are provisions in the law which state that an appeal made by the fielding team can be withdrawn and the dismissed batsman can come back to bat once again. However, for this to happen, the fielding team captain has to withdraw the appeal; only after obtaining the consent from the concerned umpire. After that, the batsman is free to come back to the crease again and resume batting.