A perplexing no-ball call in the penultimate over of Sussex’s chase against Middlesex in the T20 Blast 2020 on Tuesday, September 1, caused confusion both on the field and off it, when David Wiese was reprieved despite top-edging a bouncer to short fine-leg.
The incident occurred on the third delivery of the 19th over during the South Group game at Lord’s. With 15 needed off the remaining 10 deliveries, seamer James Harris delivered a well-directed bouncer that crept just over Wiese’s head. The batsman, on 65, was forced to play at it, but ended up top-edging it behind him, and was caught by Martin Andersson at short fine-leg. However, considerable confusion ensued when Middlesex’s celebrations were cut short by umpire Ben Debenham’s signal for no-ball.
It was chaotic. Will Beer, the non-striker, enterprisingly attempted a second run, prompting a half-hearted run-out attempt by Nathan Sowter. Meanwhile, Wiese had approached Debenham to better understand the situation. The fielders stood around, all looking puzzled.
Debenham then walked off for a chat with leg-umpire Billy Taylor, while on-air commentators Adam Collins and Isabelle Westbury tried to make sense of all the confusion.
“Trying to read the body language between the two umpires as to why the no-ball was signalled,” Collins said. “It couldn’t have been for three men behind square. Did he overstep? I mean, there was nothing wrong with the delivery from our angle. We don’t know why that was called a no-ball as yet.”
“I haven’t seen them signal a free-hit though,” Westbury noted, “so presumably it wasn’t a front-foot no-ball.”
Middlesex CCC president Mike Selvey, the former England pacer, highlighted everyone’s confusion with a tweet: “A really really weird umpiring decision settled @Middlesex_CCC match with Sussex tonight, just as it was heading right to the wire. Still not found anyone who can explain it properly.”
A really really weird umpiring decision settled @Middlesex_CCC match with Sussex tonight, just as it was heading right to the wire. Still not found anyone who can explain it properly.
— mike selvey (@selvecricket) September 1, 2020
Was it an illegitimate delivery? Was it a no-ball for height? England all-rounder Luke Wright replied to Selvey’s tweet, saying: “Bouncer well above head height 👍”
Wiese, who went on to take Sussex through with unbeaten 46-ball 79 and won the Player of the Match award, later confirmed that the no-ball call was indeed for height.
“It was chaotic when the no-ball happened,” Wiese said about the umpire’s call. “I felt a bit silly and I was also a bit confused. I actually thought I was out, but then the umpire adjudged it was a no-ball for above head height. I was busy walking off when the umpire called me back. In the middle of it all the ball was rolling about – it was just chaos.”
According to Law 21.10 of MCC’s Laws of Cricket, pertaining to ‘Ball bouncing over head height of striker’, “The umpire shall call and signal No ball for any delivery which, after pitching, passes or would have passed over head height of the striker standing upright at the popping crease.”
Having already crossed by the time Andersson claimed the catch, Beer took strike off the next ball. “Controversy at Lord’s”, said Collins on air later in the over, which resulted in 18 runs, bringing Sussex considerably close to the target which was achieved with four balls to spare.