Heather Knight should not have been given out in the opening game of the Women's Ashes T20I series, according to the MCC, the lawmakers of the game. Knight, the England captain, was dismissed off the second ball of the match, ultimately given out caught behind by Alyssa Healy off left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen.
But the dismissal was shrouded in confusion, Knight first being given out, then not out and then out again. In a blog on the Lord's website, the MCC's Laws of Cricket Advisor Jonny Singer argued that Knight should have been reprieved on account of Healy's position being in contravention with two subsections of Law 27.
Knight clearly feathered a length delivery to Healy, who appeared to clip a bail off as she collected the edge. Even though the umpire at the non-striker's end, Geoff Joshua, raised his finger straightaway in response to Australia's appeal, Knight was asked to wait as the TV umpire John Ward was called into play to presumably check the mode of dismissal - whether Knight was stumped, bowled, or caught behind. Replays appeared to show Healy's gloves level with the stumps when bat made contact with the ball.
The electronic screen then flashed not out, with the umpire also declaring the delivery to be a no-ball. Moments later, however, Knight was seen making her way back to the pavilion, having been adjudged caught behind. Australia went on to win the game.
The law relevant to the circumstances, Singer pointed out, was 27.3.1, which 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."
Singer argued that Healy was in contravention, as her gloves were not wholly behind the stumps at the point of impact between Knight's bat and the ball. That should have triggered Law 27.3.2 which calls for the ball to be called no-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," Singer wrote. It is not clear why, when Knight was given not-out on the electronic screen and a no-ball signaled, the decision was eventually reversed.
Singer did, however, acknowledge the relatively rare nature of such a call. "That said, the margins are extremely tight, and this was not an easy decision."
As well as the umpires, on-air commentators, including former Australia batsman Mel Jones, also struggled to make sense of the dismissal. South Africa fast bowler Marizanne Kapp subsequently voiced her concern over the specifics of the rules and took to Twitter calling for "more clarity regarding this law."
Yip they are... I think more clarity is needed regarding this law, last night even the umpires looked confused and the commentators mentioned something else... what does the law say @sthalekar93 please?
— Marizanne Kapp (@kappie777) November 18, 2017