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Last Updated: Friday, 2 January, 2004, 12:25 GMT
Goodbye to leg-byes?
By Paul Grunill

Steve Waugh caused a few eyebrows to be raised on the eve of his final Test appearance by calling for a couple of significant changes to the way the game is played.

Steve Waugh with the World Cup
This picture would never have been taken without leg byes

The hard-nosed Australian captain does not believe injured batsmen should be allowed runners.

Waugh it was who compiled a superb unbeaten 157 against England at The Oval in 2001 despite a hamstring injury which would have prevented most ordinary mortals from playing in the game.

More interesting, however, is his call for leg-byes to be scrapped.

His rationale is very simple.

"I don't think you should get runs when you miss the ball," the 38-year-old said.

But without leg-byes, the outcome of some of cricket's most famous matches might have been very different.

Lifting the World Cup in 1999 is one of the proudest moments of Waugh's career, but it would never have happened without the benefit of leg-byes.

Their semi-final at Edgbaston was a pulsating contest which saw South Africa's Allan Donald run out off the final ball with the scores tied, enabling Australia to squeeze through by virtue of finishing higher up the Super Six table.

Had leg-byes not counted, however, Australia's total of 213 would have been reduced by six.

There was only one leg-bye in the South African total, so a place in the final at Lord's would have been theirs.

It should be born in mind, however, that without batsmen bothering to run leg-byes, innings would follow a very different course.

Australia also came out on top by a narrow margin when they beat India by one run in Madras in a first round match at the 1987 World Cup.

On that occasion, opener Geoff Marsh hit 110 as they totalled 270-6 in their 50 overs, with India dismissed for 269 when Waugh bowled last man Maninder Singh with the penultimate ball of their innings.

Ian Meckiff is run out at Brisbane in 1960
Australia have been involved in both tied Test matches

But he might never have had the chance to win the game for his side had 18 leg-byes not counted towards the Australian total as India reached 253 for the loss of only six wickets.

Madras was also the scene of the first Test between India and Australia the previous year, which proved to be one for the record books - and Waugh was once again involved.

It ended in only the second tie in Test match history as India were all out for 347, chasing a victory target of 348.

Under Waugh's no leg-bye policy, Australia would have won the game by four runs.

But the same would not have been true in the first tied Test between Richie Benaud's Australian side and the West Indies at Brisbane in 1960.

Needing 233 in their second innings, Australian tail-ender Ian Meckiff was run out by Joe Solomon's throw as he went for the winning run.

How different it would have been if leg-byes had never been part of the cricket rule book as the home side would have lost by seven runs.

Don't expect Cricket Australia officials to back Waugh's proposals any time soon.





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