This guide is a one-page summary of the rights and duties of the board-keeper in an American-rules game. Please feel free to tack it to the back of your deadness board, or include it in your tournament handouts (but see the copyright notice below). For printing you may prefer the PDF version.
Please note that this is an entirely unofficial document. I am not a member of the USCA Rules Committee and this document has not been reviewed by that august body.
Careful readers will notice that I have applied the “what do you do when the striker hits a dead ball” solution to wrong-ball errors also. Okay, the rules don’t actually say so, but it applies equally well in both cases and it just makes sense.
A Field Guide for Board-keepers
- Pay attention to the game. Don’t get too involved in conversation with other spectators.
- Mark changes immediately. The only exception is that you don’t have to do this if you are an experienced board-keeper and the striker is making a three-ball or four-ball break that looks likely to continue for a while. Even so, it’s best to mark the changes as they occur.
- Make standard time calls, i. e., “Fifteen minutes”, “One minute”, and “Game time”. Otherwise announce the time only when a player asks. Do not provide “countdowns”.
- If you aren’t sure about whether or not to intervene (e. g., after an out-of-turn play), don’t. Consult a referee instead.
As a general rule, the board-keeper (or other spectator referee) intervenes to correct any error that is not a fault, i. e., that will not result in loss of turn for the striker. Here is the complete list (from Rule 54(a)):
- correct improper clip placement
- correct the misplacement of balls
- make time announcements
- forestall an unearned continuation shot after a striker runs a wrong wicket
- correct the deadness board
- forestall any out-of-turn play
- forestall a striker mistakenly striking a ball in the other game
If the striker commits a fault but none of the players notices it:
- make a note of the state of the game. In particular, try to remember the positions of the balls and clips. If the players catch the fault before the next turn, you will be able to help return the balls and clips to their proper positions.
- If the fault is a dead-ball or wrong-ball fault, stop marking changes to the deadness board. If a player questions you about the board or asks you to change it, forestall play immediately and announce the fault. But if the players fail to notice the fault and the opponent condones the fault by playing a stroke, update the board as though no fault had occurred and all of the previous turn was valid play.
- However, if the striker was playing a wrong ball and ran one or more wickets out of sequence, and the fault was then condoned (i. e., the opponent played a stroke), the misplaced clip must be corrected. An out-of-sequence wicket can never be condoned.
- Keep track of player time-outs. Time the time-out; announce “Fifteen seconds remaining in the time-out” and “Time in” as appropriate.
- Players will ask for double-banking time-outs, but will almost never tell you “time in” afterwards. Restart the clock as soon as the interference ends; do not wait for the striker to strike the ball.
- Don’t let board-keeping make you late for your next game. If you need to leave so that you can get ready for your game, find someone else to keep the board. If you can’t find anyone, tell the players that you are leaving; they will just have to manage the board and clock themselves.
Copyright 2004 by Jeff Soo. You may print copies for personal or club use, and you may include it in your tournament handouts, so long as you make no changes to the text. You do not need to credit the author.
Posted August 20, 2004