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Stumped! - Was Taylor's brilliance a No Ball?

Sarah Taylor produced a magical stumping to dismiss Trisha Chetty
Sarah Taylor produced a magical stumping to dismiss Trisha Chetty

Here at the Home of Cricket, we’ve been inundated with questions following England men’s Test defeat by South Africa at Trent Bridge last week, and the ICC Women’s World Cup Semi-Final win over the same nation on Tuesday.

In particular, many cricket fans were left confused about a batsman being out Stumped, with two incidents sparking controversy.

The first flurry of enquiries came in relation to comments made by Shane Warne during commentary on the Test.

With a South African batsman taking guard well outside his crease, and making no hurried attempt to get back into his ground once the ball had passed the wicket, Sky Sports’ commentary team mused about the possibility of a stumping.

Enter Warne, who informed viewers that this wouldn’t be possible – and that, instead, first slip would have to take the ball in place of the wicket-keeper, and run the batsman out.

Warne’s logic, which is not an uncommon misconception, was that as soon as the ball hits the wicket-keeper’s gloves, it is dead, and thus the batsman cannot be Stumped.

Of course, this cannot be true – if it were, few if any of Warne’s 36 Test stumpings would have been given out.

Law 23 (Dead ball) states that the ball is dead ‘when it is finally settled in the hands of the wicket-keeper or of the bowler’ and that it is for the umpire alone to determine when this has happened.

However, what is clear, is that if the wicket-keeper is, without delay, making an attempt to stump the batsman, the ball will not have become finally settled. There is no need for another fielder to get involved, and a stumping is possible – perhaps England should take note.

The second incident that stumped many fans came when Sarah Taylor, England Women’s wicket-keeper, appeared to brilliantly stump South Africa’s Trisha Chetty, her opposite number.

With the ball fired down the leg side and Chetty out of her crease, Taylor took the ball cleanly and removed the bails in a flash, a breath-taking display of wicket-keeping to leave Chetty well out of her ground.

However, many viewers pointed out, in emails to MCC and on various social media channels, that Taylor, in removing the bails, came in front of the wicket.

Law 40 (The wicket-keeper) states that:

‘The wicket-keeper shall remain wholly behind the wicket at the striker’s end from the moment the ball comes into play until

(a) a ball delivered by the bowler

either (i) touches the bat or person of the striker or

(ii) passes the wicket at the striker’s end

or (b) the striker attempts a run.’

As the video shows, Taylor took the ball when her gloves, and her entire body, were behind the wicket. Her momentum being forwards, by the time she moved across to dislodge the bails she had part of her glove in front of the wicket.

However, that is not a problem, as the ball had, by that time, already passed the wicket and she was free to move wherever she chose. Had she moved in front of the wicket before the ball had passed, the striker’s-end umpire would have called a No ball, from which a batsman may not be given out Stumped.

Credit must go to both the on-field umpires and the television match official for spotting that distinction, almost impossible to see in real time and difficult even in slow motion, as well as to Taylor for effecting every wicket-keeper’s dream – a leg-side stumping.

These two incidents are a great example of the complexities of the Laws of Cricket – both relating to stumpings, and yet neither are covered directly by Law 39 (Stumped). 

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