As soon as it was taken, Jos Buttler’s sharp catch of Fawad Alam off the bowling of Dom Bess on the third day of the third England-Pakistan Test was hailed as evidence of his proficiency in keeping against spin, showing that his first Test fumbles were merely an aberration.
Jos Buttler's excellent Test continues with this very good take behind the stumps 👏pic.twitter.com/nHGNMWg3UW
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) August 23, 2020
The Sky Sports Cricket broadcast went to lengths to analyse Buttler’s improvement, comparing the catch to a similar drop in the first Test, when he put three chances down off Bess, highlighting how he started lower in his stance, and moved his left foot to allow himself to turn and take the ball.
Looks like Buttler's gloves weren't "wholly behind the wicket". If the ball was in play at this point (released by Bess), I believe it should have been called a no ball. #ENGvPAK pic.twitter.com/AhuQiWiOAx
— Danny (@dafrankland) August 23, 2020
However, it was one of the slo-mos that had Twitter users raising their eyebrows and suggesting that Fawad should have been reprieved, with Buttler’s gloves seemingly passing the stumps during the course of the delivery.
Looked like Buttlers’ hands were in front of the stumps for that catch. Which is a no ball. You’d have to see it again, but it looked very close.
— Jarrod Kimber (@ajarrodkimber) August 23, 2020
Law 27.3 states that: “The wicket-keeper shall remain wholly behind the wicket at the striker’s end from the moment the ball comes into play until a ball delivered by the bowler touches the bat or person of the striker or passes the wicket at the striker’s end. In the event of the wicketkeeper contravening this Law, the striker’s end umpire shall call and signal no ball as soon as applicable after the delivery of the ball.”
The laws define the ball as coming into play when the bowler starts his run-up, at which point Buttler is standing up. While the angle shown isn’t exactly side on, Buttler’s gloves do appear to not be fully behind the stumps, in which case Fawad should have been awarded a life. An off-field umpire is already calling front-foot no-balls in this series; perhaps it’s time to add another task to their list of duties.