One of the many beauties of cricket is that it exists in a state of perpetual evolution. Some are giant steps (overarm bowling, six-ball overs, the advent of Twenty20, and the like) while others are small steps – lbw-rule tinkering, advances in bat technology, pinch-hitting.
One such thing was witnessed last year,during Worcestershire’s T20 Blast fixture against Northamptonshire.
During Worcestershire’s stint in the field, their captain Daryl Mitchell asked wicketkeeper Ben Cox to ditch his gloves and pads and become an extra fielder – leaving no one behind the stumps.
Northamptonshire were 145-2 chasing 212 for victory, with 67 runs required from 30 balls. As Worcestershire’s spinner Moeen Ali prepared to start the 16th over, Ben Cox ditched the gloves and pads and positioned himself on the edge of the circle, roughly on the angle of second slip.
This prompted a lengthy discussion between the two umpires, during which Mitchell and Cobb were both brought in to have their say. Eventually, it was agreed there was no rule preventing a team from not having a wicketkeeper, and play was allowed to resume.
The move had the desired effect, with Cobb eventually caught in the deep off the bowling of Ajmal for 80, as Northamptonshire fell 14 runs short in their run chase.
After the match, Worcestshire’s director of cricket Steve Rhodes revealed the inspiration for his team’s creative move.
“It came about when I watched MS Dhoni stand back to the spinners for India and I thought that was a great idea,” Rhodes said.
At Lord’s in 2014, India fielded with a leg-gully and a backward short-leg. Several catches flew wide of leg-gully. It was evident India needed another fielder, but the laws prevented them from placing more than two fielders behind square on the leg-side.
So their wicketkeeper MS Dhoni stood back whenever Ravindra Jadeja bowled to left-handed batsmen, making up for the leg-slip, allowing Virat Kohli at leg-gully to move wider.
Watch the highlights of the game: