MCC's Laws of Cricket Advisor Jonny Singer takes a look at a controversial dismissal during Australia's T20 international Ashes victory over England last Friday.
Australia retained the women’s Ashes with an emphatic win in the first T20 international on Friday. The Southern Stars got off to a fast start, restricted England with the ball, and then knocked off the required runs with four overs to spare.
But, should they have had that perfect opening to the game?
The second delivery of the match saw some confusion, as England captain Heather Knight edged the ball, and was caught behind by Alyssa Healy. To add to the drama, a bail was also dislodged, leaving the umpires with several decisions to make:
- did Knight hit the ball?
- did the ball, or the wicket-keeper’s gloves, put the wicket down?
- was the catch made fairly?
- what was the position of the wicket-keeper?
On the field, it was decided that Knight was out, but was then handed up to the third umpire to check.
First, let’s sort out the easy bits – Knight did hit the ball, so there was a possibility of a catch. The ball then went into Healy’s gloves, and it was the gloves that put the wicket down. That means it was a clean catch, but could not have been out Bowled. So far, so simple.
The real question comes over the position of the wicket-keeper. There was some debate about this on TV and online, so we at MCC thought it would be good to clear things up.
Law 27.3.1 states:
“The wicket-keeper shall remain wholly behind the wicket at the striker’s end from the moment the ball comes into play until a ball delivered by the bowler
touches the bat or person of the striker or
passes the wicket at the striker’s end or
the striker attempts a run.”
There is thus no restriction on where the wicket-keeper may take a catch. In this case she may move wherever she wants, once the ball has touched the bat. So the catch, made with some part of her gloves in front of the wicket, is fair.
However, the question then arises of Healy’s position at the moment the ball hits the bat. It has been pointed out that she was not in front of the wicket. However, while this is correct, it is not the relevant judgement in Law. She must remain ‘wholly behind the wicket’. That means being in line with the stumps is not allowed - the whole person and equipment of the wicket-keeper must be behind the back edge of the stumps.
As we can see from this still shot from this video footage, the gloves are, in fact, not wholly behind the wicket at the moment that bat and ball make contact. This is not permitted.
Law 27.3.2 states:
"In the event of the wicket-keeper contravening this Law, the striker’s end umpire shall call and signal No ball as soon as applicable after the delivery of the ball."
The striker’s end umpire should thus have called a No ball, perhaps with the help of the third umpire, and Knight should have been reprieved.
That said, the margins are extremely tight, and this was not an easy decision.