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November 25, 2012
The Wankhede Test had a tryst with minor controversy when Jonny Bairstow was given out caught at silly point even though the ball had hit Gautam Gambhir's helmet before he completed the catch.
The dismissal came in what turned out to be the last ball before lunch, and everybody - the batsmen and the umpires - walked off satisfied with the dismissal. According to England sources, their director of cricket, Andy Flower, approached the match referee, Roshan Mahanama, to ask for the decision to be reversed. Mahanama informed him that as Bairstow had left the field of play, the decision could only be withdrawn if India's captain, MS Dhoni, withdrew his appeal on the umpires' request. Dhoni, with the support of his coach, Duncan Fletcher, chose not to do so.
The only replays shown before the break were inconclusive, and more importantly unsuspecting. No one had explored the possibility of an unfair catch going into the break. Thirty-five minutes later, replays in the live transmission confirmed the ball had indeed hit the helmet. Law 32 is clear that a catch is not considered fair if the ball hits a fielder's external protective equipment before the catch is completed.
The Law, 32.3 (e), says: "A fielder catches the ball after it has touched an umpire, another fielder or the other batsman. However, it is not a fair catch if the ball has previously touched a protective helmet worn by a fielder. The ball will then remain in play."
At the end of the day's play, Gambhir said he knew the ball had hit the grille before he completed the catch, but he was not completely aware of the Law. "It happened in such a quick time, that by the time I realised it…" he said. "I personally felt when we went into lunch that once it hits your body and then the grille, that's out. Just didn't come straight off the grille. It just happened so quickly that later on I got to know. I haven't had a word with MS that whether we wanted to call him back or not."
This would not have been a big issue but because the new batsman had not yet walked in and there was a 40-minute break in action, there was scope for the officials and captains to get together and correct the decision. However, after lunch, Samit Patel, the new batsman, walked out with Kevin Pietersen. The scenes were reminiscent of Trent Bridge in 2011 when Ian Bell was reinstated during the tea break after being run out, but the outcome here was different.
India do have recent history of calling batsmen back. At Trent Bridge, Bell seemed to have wrongly assumed the last ball before tea had gone for four, and had started to walk off for tea when India ran him out. The umpires ruled Bell out, but England asked India to reconsider their appeal during the tea break. Twenty minutes later, India walked out to the crowd's jeers, which turned into cheers when they realised Bell had been recalled.
In an ODI in Brisbane in February this year, R Ashwin mankaded Sri Lanka middle-order batsman Lahiru Thirimanne after having warned him previously, but when the umpires asked India if they wanted to continue with the appeal, the stand-in captain Virender Sehwag withdrew it. Sehwag later said, "It's soft, but that's the way we are."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Sidharth Monga
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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