The fourth Ashes Test, after only one day, has already had its moments of hilarity as well as astonishment when the game saw the play move on at the umpire’s behest even as he pocketed the bails!
Not often does one see unusual antics on the field. Some might even say, stranger things have happened. Indeed, they have. But in what is perhaps a first in international Test cricket, the umpire had enough of the shenanigans surrounding the weather and the wind and decided to do away with the players’ angst by simply taking off the bails and putting them in his pockets.
The game was poised absorbingly as Steven Smith and Marcus Labuschagne were setting up rearguard action at the crease after weather and England scalped two early Australian wickets on the first day of the Old Trafford Test. A frustrated England were desperate to make in-roads to dislodge the players, one of whom had made scoring centuries a facile job in the series until his concussion and the other who came in as a concussion substitute – also, a first in Test cricket, who entrenched himself in the game and the team’s batting line up.
But the only thing getting dislodged were the light bails at the top of the stumps! Stuart Broad was positively grumpy, the disruption of rhythm and frustration evident, as he walked back to the top of his run up. The cause of the disruption began with an empty wrapper that had flung itself around the pitch. Incidentally while that disrupted and amused in equal parts, none thought to simply pick it up and lend it to someone who would use the dustbins at the ground.
While the disruption irritated some, it amused others to no end with one commentator actually following the wrapper’s path as it swirled around the ground. But the annoyance was soon transferred to the bails that would not sit comfortably in the groove. With a steady breeze, it seemed that no arrangement of the bails appealed satisfactorily the bowler as well as the batsman.
Eventually the umpire had enough and then promptly chose to dispose of the matter by pocketing the bails and asking the players to get on with the game! If watching the game proceed without the bails at the top of the stumps was an unusual sight in international cricket, it seemed the England captain, Joe Root, had quite a few queries about the amusing state of events on the field.
After the controversy surrounding the zing bails during the recently concluded ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 where the bails would not fall despite the stumps being hit hard, it seemed that another even rarer scenario was unfolding on the field.
The umpire who carried out the heavier bails seemed to take his time taking to the field. Once the heavier bails replaced the rambunctious bails, the game went on as usual. Incidentally, it was only after the bails came on that Labuschagne was dismissed, with the bowler clipping the top of his stumps!