i had, look you see, something of a restless night last night, or if you like the night before this one. i was unable to doze off, and thus i was rather tired today. to that end, then, i elected if not opted to have a splendid afternoon laid in bed, listening to Blofeld, Tuffers et al commentate on the cricket match on the go between England and Australia.
this, the second one day international of the series between the two, was a fairly routine affair, with Australia posting a match winning total that saw England put forth a valiant, yet unlikely, effort towards passing that score. and then this easy listening afternoon was disrupted by what was declared at the time to be a highly controversial dismissal.
for those unaware of the incident from today, Stokes played a fairly innocuous ball back to the bowler, Starc. Starc picked it up and threw it at the direction of the stumps, since Stokes was some distance out of his crease and the ball was live. Stokes raised a hand and, as we shall see in the video, seemed to "grab" at the ball. after a brief chat, the umpires agreed - Stokes was dismissed for handling the ball.
as one, in this case i, listened to the commentary, it was like Australia had "cheated" a wicket; that they had claimed a scalp that they should have not. the crowd at Lord's apparently booed the Australians from this moment onwards until the conclusion of the game - a conclusion that always seemed inevitably to be a victory for the men from the land down under, but has since been painted as one "stolen" by the virtue offered from this - described at best as - opportunistic wicket. under these circumstances, i thought it best to have a gander at the actual dismissal and see if this was indeed the case. here you go, you can have a look too.
yeah, i know as a Yorkshireman, which makes me one of the superior Englishmen alive, i should be rushing to claim that how this dismissal was portrayed by the commentators and the reports (in England) is absolutely correct. i, and hopefully you, can see that this was clearly the correct decision and he was right to be dismissed.
i would not suggest there was "malice" or a deliberate wish to cheat on behalf of Stokes. his reaction was likely one of instinct or reflex, but all the same it was clear his intention was to, with impressive split second timing, stop the ball from hitting the stumps. note, if you can make it out there, how his fingers close around the ball and then very quickly release, as if to say the batsman knows he's in the wrong.
there has been a claim by England's one day captain, Morgan, that there was "no intention" to stop the ball hitting the stumps, that this incident was a reflex one and was Stokes trying to stop the ball hitting him on the head. to that i would suggest for someone with such remarkable co-ordination, Stokes has a peculiar idea of where his head is.
this "no intention" thing is also baffling. the rules state that if a batsman handles the ball whilst live it is a dismissal. intention or ambition doesn't come into it. it's a bit like when football fans complain about a player being red carded for a two-footed, studs up tackle, claiming in defence of the player that there was "no intention" to make contact. read the rules, intention doesn't come into it, dangerous play does.
another baffling element of this dismissal is that there's a claim such decisions are "rare". no they are not. often batsmen have been given out for handling the ball, and in the majority of cases they walk straight away, for they know they are in the wrong. like, for instance, this legendary incident featuring Gooch and the great, great, irrepressible Merv Hughes
yeah, fair enough, that one was a good deal more blatant than the Stokes dismissal of today, but the rule in place remains the same. and it's not like Australia are the only benefactors of this - i recall a superb Steve Waugh innings being brought to an end when he for no apparent reason decided to handle the ball.
the booing and the general reaction was, it would be reasonable to suggest, an understandable heat of the moment sort of thing. i hope, though, that Stokes turns around and says "yeah, it was instinctive, but it was still foolish and a fair wicket". there will also, hopefully, be an end to the claim that England would have won the match if not for this "pivotal" decision.
for what it's worth, from my side sorry Australia if a fine win has been somewhat clouded by complaints over what was a fair wicket. best of luck, but not too much luck, with the rest of the series.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!