England is currently playing India in a Test match in Rajkot, India. Overnight, there was major controversy when England batsman Joe Root was ruled out, caught and bowled by paceman Umesh Yadav.
But did Yadav hold the ball long enough before tossing it into the air for his celebration -- during which his second attempt to catch the ball went awry? And should Joe Root, the world's number four ranked Test batsman who was on 124 at the time, have been given out?
As you can see in the video above, it's pretty much a matter of opinion as to whether the bowler held the catch long enough to satisfy the bit in Law 32.3 in the official Rules of Cricket, which states:
"The act of making the catch shall start from the time when a fielder first handles the ball and shall end when a fielder obtains complete control both over the ball and over his own movement."
That's the law as it stands now. Interestingly, it changed in the year 2000, right after a very famous incident which has no doubt already sprung to your mind, right? Right. Well you clicked this story, which means you're a cricket lover, which means surely you know about the 1999 Herschelle Gibbs dropped catch. (Unless of course you clicked this by accident and were in fact looking for our important story on Golden Gaytime burgers, which is here.)
So as a refresher, back in 1999 Australia was chasing a big South African score to stay alive in the World Cup. Gibbs, the South African opener, dropped Steve Waugh after fumbling a catch as he threw it into the air, just like Yadav.
The incident inspired the famous sledge "You've just dropped the World Cup", which in effect Gibbs did, as Australia went on to win the match and the tournament. Anyway, the point is that back then the rule read:
The act of making the catch shall start from the time when the fieldsman first handles the ball and shall end when he both retains complete control over the further disposal of the ball and remains within the field of play."
But now the law contains nothing about the "further disposal of the ball". Which means umpires just had to rule on whether Umesh Yadav had, quote unquote, "complete control".
Hmmmm. Tricky one. The decision went upstairs (this is only the second series where India has agreed to use the decision review system) after the umpire had ruled the batsman out. The onus was on third umpire Rod Tucker to prove otherwise, or let the decision stand.
"OK, um, this is an unusual one," Tucker could be heard musing. "The onfield signal is out, so that suggests there that he's tossing the ball up in the air. He's smiling, he's tossing the ball up in the air, big screen, that'll be out, yes."
Wait a minute, he's smiling. Huh? We adjudicate sports decisions on a player's mouth position now? Next you'll be telling us a vulgar reality TV performer will rule the free world.
But these are the improbable things that happened overnight. Donald Trump won the U.S. election and Joe Root was out. To his credit, he did not complain. Neither did commentator and former England skipper Mike Atherton, who said:
"Well, I think that's fair enough. The key thing in his [third umpire Rod Tucker's] mind is that the onfield signal was out and so he had to prove that Yadav did not have control of the ball. It looked to me like Yadav caught it, and in the process of throwing it up, he lost control of the ball. But he did have it in his hands, and that's why the onfield umpires gave it out initially, and why Rod Tucker has decided to stay with that call."
We still think if it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it's probably a duck. And we think Yadav was just a little too keen to re-catch the ball after his wonky celebration throw, just to make sure there would be no further inquiry.
Here's the full video of the incident.