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The best decision you'll ever see

The best decision you'll ever see

The recent Test series between New Zealand and India produced an excellent example of the Law stating how the wicket is put down.

It occurred during India’s first innings in the second Test at Napier. Jeetan Patel’s throw from midwicket hit the stumps at the bowler’s end with the batsman Gautam Gambhir inches short of his ground.

The first view shown to the third umpire, from the leg side of the lefthanded Gambhir, made it look clear that the bail nearest the camera had been dislodged while Gambhir’s outstretched bat had still not reached the popping crease.

"He’s gone!" cried the commentators but fortunately the third umpire was not so hasty in his judgement.

A replay was then shown from behind the bowler’s arm and, from that angle, it became evident that it was only part of
the bail that initially lifted.

The spigot from the leg stump had lifted up but the bail was still in contact with the middle stump for a couple of frames of the TV replay.

The other bail (to the off stump) remained in its original position throughout. The leg bail was eventually removed but only after the bail had flipped up to an almost vertical position.

Law 28.1(a) states: "The wicket is put down if a bail is completely removed from the top of the stumps..." By the time that this had happened, the replays showed that Gambhir’s bat was grounded behind the popping crease.

The batsman was duly given not out and the commentator hailed it as "possibly the best decision you will ever see."

For umpires in the vast majority of cricket, the naked eye will not normally be sharp enough to notice the exact moment that both ends of the bail have been removed but the point needed to be clarified for televised games.

There are other parts of Law 28 that cause confusion among players, the main one being how to put down a wicket that has already been broken.

The fielder must put the wicket down so that it has fewer bails on the stumps or fewer stumps in the ground. So, if for example only one bail had previously been removed, it would be sufficient to simply remove the other bail.

However, if both bails were already off, it is necessary for the fielder to remove or strike one of the stumps from the ground.

This must be done with the hand or any part of the arm of the fielder, providing that the ball is held in the hand or hands so used, or in the hand of the arm so used.

Fielders often hold the ball in both hands to grasp the stump and pull it out of the ground.

The only time when a wicket cannot be put down is if all three stumps have already been totally removed from the ground.

However, a fielder may remake the wicket in part or in full. So, he can put a stump back in the ground, as long as it is where the wicket originally stood, and then put the wicket down again as described above.

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