In modern times many societies have abolished the death penalty as a form of punishment even for the most heinous crimes. One reason is that the judicial process is based on convincing a jury that such a crime was committed. Therefore one could say that a jury’s verdict is an opinion about an event and not a fact. I’d like to suggest that an LBW decision in cricket is the death penalty for a batsman and like the judicial process is based on opinion and not on fact. Hence it should be abolished.
When an appeal of LBW is made the umpire has to determine ‘whether the ball would have gone to hit the stumps if its progress had not been impeded by the batsman’s leg’. This is a point of opinion and not a point of fact.
Even in modern times where the form of pre-emptive justice is proving increasingly popular, no ‘suspected terrorist’ is given the death penalty because s/he may have been plotting a crime. The reason being that a crime has not been actually committed. Thus juries are loath to condemn such individuals to the gallows.
Similarly in the case of an LBW decision, since the ball has not hit the stumps there is no way one can be sure that the ball would have hit the stumps if unimpeded. It may have hit the stumps 99% of the time but there is no way of being sure. Hence a batsman in my view should not be declared out since that is akin to awarding the death penalty for a crime not committed.
Those opposed to this idea will immediately say removal of the LBW decision will be an incentive to batsmen to use their legs to prevent the ball from hitting the stumps. My suggestion is that every time the batsmen is found LBW in the opinion of the umpire and the DRS then he should be docked 25 runs. But a death penalty, i.e. an LBW, is too harsh a punishment for an event that has not occurred.