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Ashes 2021/22

‘I don’t think I’d call that a no-ball’ – Simon Taufel on Alex Carey’s controversial overstep reprieve

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Simon Taufel has criticised the decision of TV umpire Paul Reiffel to rule that Chris Woakes had overstepped during the fifth Ashes Test at Hobart, giving Alex Carey a valuable life.

Carey top-scored in Australia’s third innings, helping them stretch their lead past 250. Australia were at one point 63-6, leading by just 178, making Carey’s contribution invaluable.

However, he enjoyed two slices of good fortune. He overturned an lbw when on 30, while he was bowled on 19 but given another life after Reiffel adjudged no part of Woakes’ front foot was behind the crease. His first life came with Australia 91-6.

The decision was a marginal one, prompting lengthy debate on commentary. Taufel, a former elite umpire, explained why he felt the decision reached by the TV umpire was the wrong one.

“Conclusive evidence is required for that front-foot no-ball to be called,” said the five-time consecutive ICC Umpire of the Year on 7 Cricket. The third umpire did take a long time and a lot of replays to analyse and look at that, and that often is a fairly good indicator that if you don’t get conclusive evidence up front, it’s really hard to overturn and rule that that’s an unfair delivery. A really tough one for all the umpires involved, but you’re right, conclusive evidence is required. I’m sitting at home looking at those pictures, and if those are pictures the third umpire is seeing, I don’t think I’d overrule that and call that a no-ball.”

There is a distinction between the MCC Laws and the ICC Playing Conditions on where the benefit of the doubt should lie when an umpire makes a no-ball decision, in part because in Test cricket the on-field umpire no longer calls front-foot no-balls.

In the MCC Laws, “if the bowler’s end umpire is not satisfied” that a delivery is legal “he/she shall call and signal no ball”, whereas in the Playing Conditions, the TV umpire shall only call no ball “if he/she is satisfied that any of these three [no ball] conditions have not been met”.

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