With Australia in command on the fourth day of the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston, England had all to do with Steve Smith and Travis Head batting comfortably. Just as it looked like the Australian pair would take the match away from the hosts, Ben Stokes stepped up to get rid of Head but did so in slightly controversial fashion to break the 130 run stand.
In the 53rd over of Australia's innings, a slower ball from Stokes outfoxed Head who went for the slash outside off. But with the ball dying down on him, all he managed was an edge behind to Jonny Bairstow.
On further assessment, it became a question of whether Stokes' first point of contact on the backline was according to rules or not. As per the laws governing the sport, rule 21.5.1 states "the bowler’s back foot must land within and not touching the return crease appertaining to his/her stated mode of delivery."
The third umpire decided the first point of contact was inside the line and ruled it a legal delivery.
Seen the replay now, so the third umpire is clearly saying that the original landing is inside the line, it's the other part of the foot that is touching. Gaffney might have been right there by the laws.
Here is Sky - https://t.co/QCZ5ui2qla
— Jarrod Kimber (@ajarrodkimber) August 4, 2019
— Trent Copeland (@copes9) August 4, 2019
— Fox Cricket (@FoxCricket) August 4, 2019
When in doubt as to the wording of a law, the MCC's e-learning guide often helps. Here is the relevant bit re back-foot no-balls. "It is only the first placement that counts and if the bowler's feet subsequently slide or twist, this is not to be taken into account". #Ashes2019 pic.twitter.com/h7WwohZpZs
— Brydon Coverdale (@brydoncoverdale) August 4, 2019
At the other end, Smith went about without a fuss and neared a second straight ton. He remained unbeaten at 98 after the first session with Australia 231/4 to lead by 141 runs. In the opening session of play, Australia added 107 runs to their tally - quicker than the rest of the Test - with England struggling in the absence of injured James Anderson.
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