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Ashes 2021/22

‘Pathetic officiating’ – Ponting on Warner-Stokes non-wicket

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Ricky Ponting has criticised the match officials at the Brisbane Ashes Test after three no-balls were missed prior to a further overstep that deprived Ben Stokes from taking the early wicket of David Warner.

Stokes bowled Warner for 17 in his first over into the attack but a check from the TV umpire Paul Wilson confirmed that the England all-rounder had overstepped. Analysis from former Australia quick Trent Copeland on 7Cricket‘s coverage showed that Stokes had overstepped on each of his first three deliveries as well but this was missed by standing umpire Rod Tucker and not checked by Wilson, either.

Speaking on 7Cricket, former Australia captain was critical of the officiating. “If it’s someone upstairs who’s supposed to be checking these, and they haven’t decided that any of these are a no-ball, it’s pathetic officiating as far as I’m concerned. If he [Stokes] had been called for a no-ball the first one he bowled, then of course he’s going to drag his foot back.”

Simon Taufel, a five-time winner of the David Shepherd Trophy for the ICC umpire of the year, laid out the current protocols with regard to checking front foot no-balls. He said: “Certainly, according to the playing conditions and technology process they are supposed to be checking every ball. I really can’t explain as to why they weren’t [checked]. They [the third umpire] do have the support of an ICC technician in that third umpire’s box. Together with that technician they’re supposed to be looking at every ball and if it’s close, they examine it and call it.”

The playing condition Taufel refers is to is likely point 21.5.2 of the ICC’s World Test Championship playing conditions that states that the third umpire should check the front foot, but does not specify whether this should be every ball or only when a wicket falls. It reads: “The third umpire shall review television replays of the bowler’s front foot landing and, if he/she is satisfied that any of these three conditions have not been met, he/she shall immediately advise the bowler’s end umpire who shall in turn immediately call and signal no-ball.”

Front foot no-balls being checked by the TV umpire has increasingly become the norm in international cricket. In 2020, the ICC confirmed that TV umpires would monitor every ball for front-foot no-balls in the ICC World Cup Super League. An ESPNcricinfo article from February 2021 showed that since front foot no-ball checking became commonplace in Test cricket the previous year, the frequency of no-balls being called for fast bowlers had more than doubled.

The match officials later confirmed that the technology used to monitor all front foot no-balls has been down all Test, meaning that the standing umpires were responsible for calling them. Telegraph journalist Izzy Westbury reported that Hawkeye picked up 14 no-balls in the opening session – only two were called.

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