Cricket World Cup: The curious case of the immovable bails

There’s one easy way for the bowler to get the batsman out in a cricket match: hit the stumps.

However, that hasn’t always been the case in this World Cup.

Five times in 13 games since the tournament started a bowler has hit the stumps and the electronic ‘zing’ bails have lit up but stayed firmly in place.

Australia opener David Warner was the latest batsman to be given a lucky escape when he edged India fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah on to his leg stump on Sunday at The Oval – and the bails didn’t move a jot.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan described it as “ridiculous” on BBC Test Match Special.

“It’s 80-odd miles per hour and it has hit leg stump,” he said.

“If you’re not getting out when you’re getting bowled, it’s a concern. Something needs to be done. It’s madness.”

Bailgate – the five incidents

  • England v South Africa, The Oval: In the opening match of the tournament England leg-spinner Adil Rashid flicks the off stump of South Africa’s Quinton de Kock with a delivery which goes to the boundary for four.
  • New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Cardiff: Dimuth Karunaratne chops New Zealand pace bowler Trent Boult on to his stumps, hard enough to shake the bails but not dislodge them.
  • Australia v West Indies, Trent Bridge. Chris Gayle is given out caught behind off a 93mph delivery by Australia pace bowler Mitchell Starc, but the decision is overturned when TV replays show the ball hit his off stump rather than bat.
  • England v Bangladesh, Cardiff.Bangladesh’s Mohammad Saifuddin miscues a pull off Ben Stokes on to his off stump. The bail lifts out of the groove briefly but doesn’t fall.
  • Australia v India, The Oval. Warner drags India’s quickest bowler Bumrah on to leg stump via his boot. Again, the bail is not for budging.

It may have been good news for the batsmen…

Image copyrightREUTERSDavid Warner and Virat Kohli
Image captionDavid Warner and India captain Virat Kohli see the funny side after Warner is ‘bowled’

But a lot of people haven’t been impressed, from former bowlers…

Image copyrightTWITTERShoaib Akhtar tweet
Image captionEx-Pakistan pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar tweeted his disbelief

…to ex-England captains….

Image copyrightTWITTERNasser Hussain tweet
Image copyrightTWITTERMichael Vaughan tweet

…and the pundits watching on…

Image copyrightTWITTERAndy Zaltzman

Under the Laws of Cricket, a batsman is considered bowled if “a bail is completely removed from the top of the stumps, or a stump is struck out of the ground”.

Law 29.1.2 adds: “The disturbance of a bail, whether temporary or not, shall not constitute its complete removal from the top of the stumps.”

The zing bails have been in use since 2012, when they were approved by the International Cricket Council (ICC). They were used at the 2015 World Cup and have been regular fixtures in the Indian Premier League and Australia’s Big Bash League.

Are the bails heavier because they have an LED light in them? Are the grooves on the top of the stumps deeper?

The ICC said zing bails weigh more than standard bails but less than the heavy bails used in windy conditions.

TMS commentator Simon Mann said: “The stumps are rock solid and heavy. I held one in Bristol on Friday. Like trying to toss the caber.”

What you said…

Innocent Abroad: I’m just an American, but I’d have thought that on the list of things bails should do, lighting up comes lower on the list than coming off when the ball whacks the stumps. I mean, lighting up is cool; don’t get me wrong.

David Wood: Why do we have to have these Mickey Mouse stumps and bails with flashing lights? Just give us cricket, don’t try to turn it into baseball with every ball hit for six #Disneyland.

Steve Willmott: Maybe now for lbws they’ll have to take into account whether the ball was going fast enough for the bails to come off.

Some fans clearly hadn’t forgotten that Warner recently returned from a ball-tampering ban…

Matt, in Melbourne: First sandpaper, now wood glue…

Given that the the ICC said it has no plans to change the bails during the World Cup, it might not be the last time we’re talking about them…



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