Umpire Kumar Dharmasena told Stuart Broad that if zing bails were in use during the Ashes, Steven Smith would have been thrown out on the second day at The Oval, but Broad was fine with the close call going in Smith’s favor.
In the 78th over, Smith, on 42, took on the arm of substitute George Ealham, the son of former England allrounder Mark, who sprinted in from deep midwicket and produced a rocket-like throw which Jonny Bairstow collected. This could be a pivotal moment in the Test and determine whether or not the series ends 2-2.
It looked like Smith was out of his crease initially, and Ricky Ponting’s commentary on Sky Sports immediately brought up Gary Pratt.
However, replays showed that the bail had not been fully dislodged from both grooves until Smith, who had pulled out a full-length dive, was in his crease.
It was also questioned if Bairstow had moved the stumps ever so slightly before he took the ball.
Broad said, “I really don’t know the rules.” There was a lot of room for interpretation, so that I will say no.
First, I saw it from above and reasoned it out, then I saw it from the side and figured the bails must have come loose.
Kumar told me that they would have been issued if it were zing bails, but he couldn’t explain why.
The Laws must waive bail. By Law 29.1, “the wicket is broken when at least one bail is completely removed from the top of the stumps, or when one or more stumps is removed from the ground.”
According to MCC’s Official Interpretation of the Laws of Cricket, Tom Smith’s Cricket Umpiring and Scoring, “For the purposes of dismissal – a bail has been removed at the moment that both ends of it leave their grooves.”
Smith had already begun to leave when he watched the replay on the giant screen. “I saw the initial replay and saw the bail come up, and when I looked at it the second time it looked like Jonny might have knocked the bail before the ball had come,” he added. “Looked pretty close at that stage, and if the ball had hit at the initial stage when the bail came, then I think I was well out of my ground.”
Smith acknowledged that Ealham’s quick work took him off guard. I realize now that he’s swift,” he stated.
I remember thinking, “Gee, this guy’s blasting around the boundary; he’s coming at pace; on the next one we hit out there, it was a similar push for two. I might have remained for the single if I had known it before.
Had Smith been dismissed, Australia would have been in deep trouble at 194 for 8, but he batted on to hit 71 before being run out by a skyed whip from Pat Cummins directed at Chris Woakes.
Then, to take a slim lead, Todd Murphy hit three sixes off Mark Wood and added 49 runs with Cummins.
Did I squeeze the trigger too soon? Perhaps,” Smith said. But if I hadn’t left, maybe Murph wouldn’t have smacked 30 like that.
You can’t blame the bottom few for where we are now; we’d be nothing without them. I thought the partnerships they formed were excellent, but we failed to capitalize and transform one of our 40-50 partnership scores into a 100-150 score that would have given us a decent lead. A little let down on that front.”