Sky Sports commentators Rob Key and Ian Ward were left baffled by a dead ball call against Angelo Mathews in Mark Wood’s 12th over, and the moment conceivably had significant consequences, with Dinesh Chandimal dismissed two balls later.
At first, the fourth ball of the 69th over of Sri Lanka’s first innings in the second Test seemed like a routine leg bye. Wood angled the ball down the leg side, Mathews aimed a flick but missed the ball, and Sri Lanka ran through for a single after the ball trickled down to fine leg off his pads.
However, the on-field umpire ruled that Mathews hadn’t played a shot, and so the ball should be ruled dead, and the single struck off. Law 23.2 states that “runs shall be scored only if the umpire is satisfied that the striker has either attempted to play the ball with the bat or tried to avoid being hit by the ball.”
Key and Ward were left puzzled by the moment. “I think that’s nothing but a shot,” said Key.
“That’s like one of my shots,” agreed Ward. “10 out of 10 for effort, one out of 10 for productivity.”
As a result, Mathews and Chandimal were forced to return to their original ends, with Mathews tucking a single next ball and leaving his partner on strike for the final ball of the over, rather than for the fifth, as he would have been if the leg bye was allowed.
A sharp inducker from Wood then trapped Chandimal in front for 52, and while it was a well-deserved wicket, one wonders what might have happened if the leg bye had been awarded.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) January 22, 2021