ICC World Cup 2019: Stubborn bails leave bowlers stumped at World Cup

The bails had lived a rather uneventful life for well over a century, if one leaves aside the one burnt and preserved in an urn to become central to the Ashes rivalry. However, the bails and stumps were brought into the limelight like never before to meet the demand for entertainment in T20.

Watching flickering light when the ball hit the stumps had bowlers and fans excited when the zing bails were introduced. While it makes for great viewing, it has at times caused dismay to the bowlers when these heavier bails have refused to come off.

In this World Cup, five bowlers have already missed out on a deserving wicket due to the bails not falling. On Sunday, it was India on the receiving end though it didn’t them hurt in the end. Australia opener David Warner got an unexpected reprieve after he dragged a Jasprit Bumrah delivery on to the stumps, but the bails were not dislodged. The Australia opener, on one when the inside-edge hit leg stump, went on to score a half-century.

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Australia also had a frustrating experience. Against West Indies, a Mitchell Starc delivery brushed Chris Gayle’s off-stump but the bails stayed on. Sri Lankan opener Dimuth Karunaratne, South African wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock and Bangladesh’s Mohammad Saifuddin too were lucky to survive after the ball hit the stumps but the bails didn’t fall.

It has triggered a debate over using the zing bails in limited-overs cricket. Both India captain Virat Kohli and Australian counterpart Aaron Finch raised concerns on Sunday, urging action by the International Cricket Council.

“No team would like seeing stuff like that, when you bowl a good ball and don’t get the guy out… You literally have to smash the stumps, and these are fast bowlers. MS (Dhoni) said checked the stump hole as well. The stump was not (planted) very hard, it was actually loose. So, I don’t know… (maybe it’s) the outer coating of the stump,” Kohli said.

Finch said teams could suffer if it happened in the business end of the World Cup. “It’s a bit unfair at times. It does seem to be happening more and more, which is unfortunate, because you’d hate to see something like that happen in a World Cup final or a semifinal…”

New Zealand all-rounder James Neesham, who took five wickets against Afghanistan on Saturday, advocated a shallower groove. “I understand that the electronics in the stumps and the bails make them heavier. Why can’t the groove the bails sit in just be made shallower? Won’t that fix the problem?” he tweeted.

Commentators even suggested doing away with the bails and giving out when lights flash on the stumps.

But, Neesham in another tweet explained how it won’t work: “Well the way the zing stumps work is when the bail lifts it breaks the electrical circuit, which triggers the lights. So yea, without the bails you’d need to fit the stumps with an accelerometer or something which I’d imagine would be more complicated.”

Former India skipper, Dilip Vengsarkar, said: “The bails have to be there. In stumping and run out, a fraction of a second is important to make the decision because the bails fly off first. The grooves have to be made shallower.”

Former India opener and coach, Anshuman Gaekwad said: “It’s amazing it has not been rectified by ICC. There is blatant evidence (it is not working) and should have been sorted the first time it happened. It can change the course of the match.”

The rule (ICC Law 29.1.1) on dismissals states: “The wicket is put down if a bail is completely removed from the top of the stumps, or a stump is struck out of the ground.”

Former India left-arm spinner Maninder Singh also felt it was unfair. “It could be happening because the bails are heavier and the groove is deep. ICC has to rectify it, but we can’t do without the bails.”

Former India pacer, Karsan Ghavri, agreed. “Stumps without bails will look funny. It will look like gully cricket. We shouldn’t drastically make changes to the traditional equipment of the game.”

First Published:
Jun 10, 2019 21:20 IST

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