elnino wrote:Striker goes in-off.
With the cue-ball is in the pocket the opponent picks it out of the pocket and drops the cue-ball on the table.
Cue-ball then goes on to hit the blue.
Is the cue-ball now ‘in-hand’?
I will try to answer this one strictly by memory, no benefit of the Rules in front of me...
This situation is a dicey one because I don't believe that it is directly addressed in the Rules at all. We must assume here that this is either a simple social frame or a self-refereed tournament match. The Rules are specifically written with the assumption of an impartial proper referee and only make a short reference that in the event that a frame is played without a formal referee, the striker's opponent "shall act as the referee for the purpose of these rules" or something to that effect. So without a true referee, we can really only infer what the proper ruling should be for the situation.
Probably the nearest professional situation I am aware of that is similar to this is this one:
If you watch closely, after Graham Dott touches the white (which is clearly heading into the pocket), the referee makes no move at all to pick up and wipe white as he normally would. This is critical! It is the referee's indication that white is still in play (because it never left the bed of the table despite Dott's intentional foul). You will sometimes see a player retrieve the white out of a pocket himself after an in-off (and this is perfectly legal) but the referee will always insist that the player hand the cue ball to the referee, then the referee will hand it back or else place it against the baulk cushion, usually after a quick wipe. From the time the white enters pocket until the time the incoming striker touches it, white is a "dead ball". From the time the incoming striker touches it, it becomes a "live ball" though the incoming striker is allowed to change the position of the white as often as he wishes. This understanding of "live ball"/"dead ball" is the important thing here.
When Mark Selby physically lifted the white from the bed of the table, it suddenly became a dead ball exactly as if it had been jumped off the table so you see the referee then make the move to pick up the white (after waiting a significant time for Selby to leave the table indicating the end of his turn at the table). He picks it up, gives it a wipe and places it against the baulk cushion for Dott to retrieve.
So first, let's change El Nino's scenario slightly...say instead it is the fouling player who retrieves the white from the pocket with the intent to give it to the incoming striker....then he drops it and it touches Blue. This was always a dead ball; there is no foul (other than the in off foul he already committed) because the "referee" cannot commit a foul and this player is "acting" as the referee in retrieving the cue ball. All balls should be replaced as close as possible and play should continue with ball in hand for the incoming striker.
The situation is 180 degrees different in El Nino's hypothetical. The incoming striker (referred to by El Nino as "the opponent" but "incoming striker" makes a better reference) retrieves the cue ball and the instant he picks it out of the pocket, he is now NOT the referee; he is the incoming striker so the cue ball is now a live ball in his hand waiting to be placed in the "D". It is as if in a refereed match, the referee hands the cue ball to him. When he drops it on the Blue, he has dropped a live ball, a foul has been committed and the new incoming striker must accept the balls where they sit (or pass the shot back of course). Essentially, it is no different than if he had been placing white in the "D" and accidentally bumped the brown (except obviously four points instead of five)... foul, white is live and stays where it is at. If the next incoming striker were to pick up the white off the bed of the table now thinking he gets ball in hand, that will also be a foul, then we would go back to ball in hand again for the next incoming striker. Round and round we go...