BBL - Brisbane Heat v Adelaide Strikers
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 23: Michael Neser of the Heat celebrates after taking the catch to dismiss Matt Short of the Strikers during the Men's Big Bash League match between the Brisbane Heat and the Adelaide Strikers at The Gabba, on December 23, 2022, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
BBL - Brisbane Heat v Adelaide Strikers

Michael Neser's stunning catch to get rid of Jordan Silk and all but win the Brisbane Heat a crucial Big Bash League game against the Sydney Sixers on New Year's Day was fair under the laws of cricket, but expectedly, plenty of questions have been asked.

The catch saw Neser make first contact with the ball from inside the boundary, before jumping from outside the boundary with his feet in the air to throw the ball again, before finally making his way back inside the boundary to complete the catch.

In slow motion, with plenty of cameras, it was clear Neser was never in contact with the ball and the ground outside the boundary at the same time.

The simplicity of the caught law under the game's current iterations, which were changed in 2019, is as follows:

33.2.1: A catch will be fair only if, in every case:
either the ball, at any time or any fielder in contact with the ball, is not grounded beyond the boundary before the catch is completed. Note Laws 19.4 (Ball grounded beyond the boundary) and 19.5 (Fielder grounded beyond the boundary).

Law 19.4 states that:

19.4.2 The ball in play is to be regarded as being grounded beyond the boundary if
- a fielder, grounded beyond the boundary as in 19.5, touches the ball;
- a fielder, after catching the ball within the boundary, becomes grounded beyond the boundary while in contact with the ball, before completing the catch.

Law 19.5 states that a fielder being grounded beyond the boundary must be in contact with the boundary or any object used to mark the boundary, the ground beyond the boundary, any object that is in contact with the ground beyond the boundary, or another fielder who is grounded beyond the boundary, only if the umpire considers that it was the intention of either fielder that the contact should assist in fielding the ball.

So in Neser's instance, where he never touched the ground or boundary rope, the catch was completely, 100 per cent, fair.

Not that social media would let you believe the laws were applied fairly, with plenty suggesting the catch should never have been allowed to stand.

And to a point, just four years ago, it wouldn't have been.

The old law stated that a player must move from inside the boundary with every grounding to be able to complete a catch, rather than being able to jump into the air from outside the boundary.

However, the rule was revised, and so the catch from Neser was allowed to stand, bringing Silk's innings to an end on 41 from just 23 balls, with the Sixers needing 26 from a further 10 balls as they attempted to chase down the mammoth total of 224 set by the Heat, with Josh Brown and Nathan McSweeney leading the way in an excellent display of power hitting.

Agree with the law or not, the problem yet to be mentioned is that of every game without a TV camera.

The law created by the MCC is a purely for TV law. It looks amazing, but 99 per cent of cricket matches are played without TV cameras or the ability to watch something on a slow motion replay a hundred times.

Instead, most cricket matches, including the Sheffield Shield and a majority of the one-day cup here in Australia, go on without TV cameras or a third umpire. Then there is every premier cricket and grassroots game played around the country.

That leaves two umpires to judge from the middle.

Australia v India: 3rd Test: Day 4
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 10: Umpires Paul Reiffel and Paul Wilson speak during a suspension in play following a complaint by Mohammed Siraj of India regarding spectators behind him during day four of the Third Test match in the series between Australia and India at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 10, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

It's difficult enough under the old laws, but with the new laws, it's a case of good luck, but no chance.

While not out would be the verdict returned in those games more often than not, a game being won or lost on a catch such as that would be hard to stomach at any level.

The law, in its current form, also virtually ignores the fact that a batsman should be rewarded for hitting a six. If a fielder can't get there on the first jump and knock the ball back in, then it should be a six every day of the week.

In theory, Neser could have continued to run around the entire length of the ground without touching the ball and ground at the same time if he so chose before completing what would be a fair catch.

It would never happen, but that is the utter madness of the law as it's currently written.

Cricket has undergone plenty of changes over the years, but this one, in its current form, doesn't make sense.