A recurrence of a long-term issue for England saw Jofra Archer denied his first Test wicket of the summer, with his dismissal of West Indies No.3 Shai Hope chalked off due to a no-ball.
Hope was initially hesitant to review the lbw decision, and looking at ball tracking it was understandable to see why, with the ball pitching outside off-stump, hitting Hope just in line, and going onto crash into the stumps. But that was shown only after Hope had been reprieved, with the first replay to check the placement of Archer’s front foot showing the right-arm quick had comfortably overstepped.
“All the setup, all the hard work, all the bluffing, all the changes of the field, the executing of the plan, it doesn’t matter if you’re bowling a no-ball,” said Sky Sports Cricket commentator Rob Key.
It’s hardly a new problem for England; in the second Test against South Africa in January, Stuart Broad’s dismissal of Quinton de Kock was overturned due to him overstepping. That was one of 12 initially uncalled no-balls in a session bowled by England, and Nasser Hussain commented at the time on how England were only repeating habits forged in training.
“I think bowlers should take the blame,” he said. “I sat this morning and watched the England boys warm up, and Sam Curran, it was funny because he put a marker down where he wanted the ball to land, and then he bowled no-balls, he was two feet over. That surely not only is a no-ball but it affects your length. If you’re practicing and training your brain to hit a certain length and in a match you’re further back, you are back of a length. The bowlers take the blame but also that first ball from Stokes, that is a foot over and it’s been missed.”
The umpires also came in for criticism for not calling the no-balls, and while the ICC have trialled technology to have front-foot no-balls reviewed every ball of the field to positive reviews, it is yet to be implemented uniformly across all international cricket. It is not known if Archer’s overstep in this game is a one-off or if there were several uncalled no-balls, but former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding had some advice for him regardless.
“That’s a long way to be running in and putting all that effort to get someone out and to then hear the umpire call ‘no ball’,” he said. “I tried to get my foot to hit the line, stamping on the line, so more than likely I would have like three-four inches behind the line, almost as if I’m killing a cockroach. Can’t be a no-ball then.”