Why Ben Stokes’ Catch of Steve Smith Was Ruled Not Out: Unveiling the Intricate Decision Behind the Controversial Call

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England believed they had the wicket of Steve Smith at the stroke of lunch on day five but the batter was ruled not out.

The Incident

The incident happened in the 66th over, with Moeen Ali bowling against Smith who was batting on 39. Ali bowled a loopy delivery and it seemed like the ball had taken Smith’s glove and popped into the hands of Ben Stokes at leg gully. Umpire Joel Wilson adjudged the decision to be not out and the call was reviewed by Stokes.

Replays and Ruling

The replays showed that the ball had indeed flicked Smith’s gloves as he looked to defend and the catch was at first taken cleanly by Stokes at leg gully, jumping and extending his right arm at full stretch. Stokes, however, hit his thigh as he went to celebrate and the ball popped out of his hands before hitting the ground. Replays also seemed to suggest that Stokes knew that it wasn’t a clean catch as his head immediately dropped but the England captain decided to go upstairs.

After numerous replays, Smith was ruled not out as the catch was not perceived to be clean according to law 33.3 of the MCC. The law states, “The act of making a catch shall start from the time when the ball first comes into contact with a fielder’s person and shall end when a fielder obtains complete control over both the ball and his/her own movement.”

Commentators’ Observations

The incident was similar to Mitchell Starc’s catch of Ben Duckett at Lord’s but clearer. With this, Smith survived as Australia headed to lunch three down and needing a further 146 runs to win. The commentators on air also likened it to the Starc incident, with Mel Jones saying, “It was clean by Ben Stokes. And in the celebrations, the hand has come down and hit his thigh. The ball has been dislodged and it has been adjudged that he was not in control.”

Included Video

07 Feb 19

Steve Waugh famously tells Herschelle Gibbs he has “dropped the World Cup.”

ICC CWC 1999; South Africa (271-7) v Australia (272-5). Australia won by 5 wickets


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