If a batsman’s stumps are splattered in a warm-up game, but there’s no video or scorecard to prove it, then did it really happen?
The Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast panel were left pondering this philosophical quandry on the latest episode, when thought experiment became bizarre reality during England’s preparations for their T20I and ODI series in South Africa. Wisden Cricket Monthly magazine editor Jo Harman, picking his moment of the week, was left doubting what he had seen with his own eyes as the evidence started disappearing.
“My moment of the week appears to have already been expunged from history,” he said, “in that it was in that second intra-squad match where Jonny Bairstow, representing Team Morgan, was bowled neck and crop by a really quick delivery from Olly Stone of Team Buttler. The ball nips back in, hits the top of middle and then flies over the keeper’s head, and then the ECB, as you’d expect, stick a clip of the dismissal on social media. It’s a young English fast bowler, it’s an exciting dismissal, that’s what people want to see.”
This is when the story takes a turn.
“Then, a little while later, the ECB seem to think better of it and that clip disappears,” he continued. “That dismissal is expunged. You can make your own minds up about why that clip was taken down or who asked for it to be taken down, but it is the type of dismissal that we’ve seen a lot with Jonny Bairstow in the past.”
The flame-haired wicketkeeper has been bowled 16 times in his last 46 Test innings, leading to him losing his red-ball central contract ahead of the 2020/21 season.
England’s second warm-up became somewhat convoluted, with players coming back out to bat again after getting out and targets reset after being chased down, which led to more confusion.
“Then I noticed that the dismissal isn’t even on Cricinfo’s scorecard, because Bairstow came out to bat again, so I guess their system doesn’t allow him to appear twice on the same scorecard,” said Jo. “So we are left wondering, did this dismissal actually happen? There is no scorecard evidence, there is no video evidence.”
On a more serious note, the panel took note of Stone’s impressive form, and, while he’s not in the T20I squad to take on South Africa, speculated that he could make a case for regular selection before long.
“On Olly Stone, I think if he stays fit he is a real contender for that World Cup squad,” said Jo. “England’s pace bowling is still a bit hit and miss in T20s. They don’t really take wickets in the Powerplay and they concede a lot of runs.”