The 12th century French thinker and theologian Peter Abelard is credited with the saying, “Only god can judge the intentions of an individual.” Human beings can only judge actions. Yet, when the leg before wicket law was codified, in the 18th century, it stated the batsman was out if he “put his leg before the wicket with a design to stop the ball…” Umpires were thus called to judge intention.
Law 36 has remained a bugbear, calling for judgement of line, intent, and recently, predictive path decided by a robot. It requires the impact to be between wicket and wicket. The batsman could be out even outside the off stump, according a later refinement, if he made no attempt to play the ball. But a ball pitching outside the leg stump, as every schoolboy knows, cannot get an lbw decision.
The Don’s take
In the 1930s, Don Bradman wrote to the Marylebone Cricket Club, custodians of the Laws, suggesting that a batsman be given out to a ball pitching outside the off stump if in the opinion of the umpire it would have gone on to hit the stumps (regardless of where it pitched).
“Leg guards are designed to prevent injury,” wrote Bradman, “not to enable protection of the stump.”
Now Ian Chappell has said much the same thing (“The pads are there to save the batsman from injury not dismissal.”) while advocating that a ball pitched outside the leg stump be treated similarly.
In espncricinfo he says the Law should read,