Woakes reprieved by controversial no-ball

Chris Woakes put in a vital innings-rescuing performance © Getty Images

Chris Woakes battled his way through to a vital 46 on the second afternoon in Mirpur to give England a priceless first-innings lead. However, he might have been dismissed half an hour before his eventual departure, after being given a controversial reprieve off a waist-high full toss.

Facing up to the legspin of Sabbir Rahman, Woakes had made 38 when he pulled fiercely across the line and straight into the hands of midwicket, and began walking off the field.

However, the umpires opted to check the height of the delivery before upholding the decision, and after assessing several replays, the third umpire Chris Gaffaney ruled that the ball had been above waist-height and therefore a no-ball was called.

Law 42.6.2, relating to bowling of high-pitched full toss, in the ICC playing conditions states: “Any delivery, which passes or would have passed on the full above waist height of the striker standing upright at the popping crease is deemed unfair, whether or not it is likely to inflict physical injury on the striker.”

This playing condition supersedes the MCC Law, 42.6(b) which makes a distinction between the pace of delivery. “(i) Any delivery, other than a slow paced one, which passes or would have passed on the full above waist height of the striker standing upright at the popping crease is to be deemed dangerous and unfair, whether or not it is likely to inflict physical injury on the striker.

“(ii) A slow delivery which passes or would have passed on the full above shoulder height of the striker standing upright at the popping crease is to be deemed dangerous and unfair, whether or not it is likely to inflict physical injury on the striker.”

This, however, was an extremely marginal decision. The ball had looped high above Woakes’ eyeline and was clearly dipping sharply when the batsman made contact several feet in front of his crease. In fact, subsequent HawkEye replays showed that the ball was hitting for the base of the stumps.

What is more, Sabbir had opened his spell with two further full-tosses, the first of which was much higher than the wicket-taking delivery, neither of which was called for no-ball. The incident was reminiscent of Rohit Sharma’s reprieve against Bangladesh in the World Cup quarter-final at Melbourne last year, on that occasion for a delivery that was clearly below waist-height.

Not even Woakes’ own family felt that his recall was justified. “Have to say, I wouldn’t have given no ball for that one,” said his brother, David, on Twitter. “But the others in Sabbir 1st over were. Keep going boys, great effort.”

England were eventually bowled out for 244, a lead of 24.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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