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Explained: Why was Jonny Bairstow adjudged out in second innings for leaving the crease?

The incident involving Jonny Bairstow's dismissal has hogged the limelight. But what does the laws say? Was the dismissal fair? We have explained here everything...

Written By: Aditya Kukalyekar New Delhi Updated on: July 03, 2023 18:27 IST
Jonny Bairstow, Ashes, England vs Australia, ENG vs AUS
Image Source : AP Jonny Bairstow

It is an Ashes Test at Lord's. Day 5. England are 178 runs away from victory with 5 wickets in hand. Jonny Bairstow is still feeling his way into the crease. He ducks underneath a short delivery from Cameron Green and straight away walks down the pitch. Alex Cary senses the opportunity and throws the ball at stumps for the appeal to follow from the Aussies. The matter is sent upstairs and the third umpire Marais Erasmus adjudges Bairstow out. The entire Lord's (read England supporters) boo the Aussies even as they refuse to withdraw the appeal.

What followed this incident was the outrage among England fans and former cricketers alike. On the other hand, Australia is unexpectedly getting support for their actions from their own countrymen. Was the dismissal fair then? Was it according to laws? Was it in the spirit of the game?

Well, the spirit of the game, nowadays, has become a thing of perspective and all the parties involved use it according to their narrative. No wonder, England feel it is against the spirit of the game. Well, one thing nobody is understanding here is if it is within the laws of the game, then how is the dismissal against the spirit of the game? MCC has made the rules of the sport and their own members (referring to the Lord's Long room incident) are not accepting the decision abusing Australia for their actions.

Even Ben Stokes, after the match, admitted after the match that it was within the laws of the game. Now, let us see what the law states:

According to Law 20.1.2: "The ball shall be considered to be dead when it is clear to the bowler's end umpire that the fielding side and both batters at the wicket have ceased to regard it as in play." In this case, Australia regarded that the ball was still in play.

Clearly, both parties here are in contraction regarding 'ball in play' and hence, Bairstow was given out fairly according to the laws of the sport.

Similar incident had happened in 2011

In 2011, Ian Bell had made a similar mistake in the Test match between India and England. He and his partner ran three off the last ball before Tea and started walking off the field towards the dressing room after completing the third run. The ball was hit towards the boundary and Bell presumed that it was four. However, India's Praveen Kumar had fielded the ball and threw it to the keeper's end and fielder Abhinav Mukund whipped the bails off to appeal for the run-out.

In this case, with the ball not going for boundary, it was still in play according to team India and hence, the third umpire adjudged Bell run-out as per the laws. There was a similar outrage then and was deemed against the spirit of the game. However, MS Dhoni had then recalled Bell to play withdrawing the appeal.

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