Ghost of Edgbaston visits Lucknow

Before it begins to sound like a match report from nearly twenty years ago, here’s the context: Marcus Stoinis may have endured a similar fate to that of Kasprowicz on Thursday night.
Last Updated : 13 October 2023, 18:32 IST

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Lucknow: There might not be a trace of Australia’s 2005 Ashes side in the current set-up, but that is not to say those in the immediate team will not be aware of the heartbreak in Edgbaston. 

Australia were in pursuit of 282 in the second Test, and despite mucking it up for the most part, they were within two runs of an improbable victory, and as many runs shy of going 2-0 up in the series. 

Brett Lee and Michael Kasprowicz had added 59 runs for the final wicket so two more should not have been an issue, but then came a well-directed short ball from Steve Harmison. Poor ol’ Kasprowicz did the best he could to get out of the way, but his gloves were not as willing. 

Billy Bowden put up that crooked finger as soon as Geraint Jones took the catch behind the stumps, and Kasprowicz looked about as distraught as Lee at the other end. It even led to the now-famous picture of Andrew Flintoff consoling Lee mid-pitch.

Bowden did not reckon it prudent to go to the third umpire, lest that one decision change the course of history, which it eventually did. And these were times before the Decision Review System (DRS) was not in the realm of possibility.

But had Bowden taken a moment, or should technology have been available, replays would have shown that at the time the ball contacted Kasprowicz’s right glove, his hand was off the bat handle. 

Rule in the Marylebone Cricket Club’s rules says: "Any part of a glove worn on the batter’s hand holding the bat… shall be regarded as the ball striking or touching the bat or being struck by the bat.” 

By this, the most basic of rules, Kasprowicz was not out, and history shall always give him the benefit of the doubt, even if Bowden did not. 

Before it begins to sound like a match report from nearly twenty years ago, here’s the context: Marcus Stoinis may have endured a similar fate to that of Kasprowicz on Thursday night. 

At 70 for five, there was little to no reason to believe Stoinis could have won Australia the game as they pursued 312, but he could have saved face. Maybe he could have avoided it being Australia’s heaviest World Cup defeat.  

Then came the spike on the giant screen as the ball passed Stoinis’ gloves down the leg side off of Kagiso Rabada. 

The bowler was not sure he had his man. Quinton de Kock was not sure there was a nick, though, he made a good show of the appeal. The rest of the team-mates were about as clueless. In fact, the only person certain that it was not out despite the sound was umpire Joe Wilson. 

Wilson was having quite the night. Even his not-out leg-before-wicket decision of Steven Smith from around eight overs ago did not sit well with technology. But this, an even tighter call, he knew looked off based on the way the ball had travelled to the wicket-keeper, experience teaches you this sort of a thing. 

So, when the South Africans reviewed the convincing verdict unconvincingly, Wilson must have felt good, until he did not. 

The ball had definitely clipped the gloves, that was the sound, but a bigger problem presented itself upon scrutiny. It was rather difficult to deduce from the pixelated proof that Stoinis’ right glove was on the bat handle at the time of contact. 

If anything, it looked like his right glove had no part to play, though, some might argue that the right thumb was caressing his left glove at the time. If that is indeed the case, then Richard Kettleborough’s decision was the right one, but if he were privy only to the video feed which the rest had access to, it is not convincing enough. 

Stoinis certainly thought so because he engaged in a fairly long chat with the on-field umpires and South African skipper Temba Bavuma before dragging himself off. 

Bavuma was well within his rights to withdraw the appeal, but why give Australia a sniff when they never would have? Magnanimity be damned, this is the World Cup, and it is in these inches that titles are won and lost. Working on that basic premise is what constitutes a killer instinct, and South Africa seem to have it. Finally. 

All things considered, maybe Kasprowicz would have suffered the exact same fate today. 

Published 13 October 2023, 18:32 IST

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