Technology woes: Stokes' overstepping exposes Ashes problem

·3 min read

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — There was one glaring mis-step from Ben Stokes which cost England a wicket on the second morning of the Ashes series, giving Australia opener David Warner a reprieve when he was on 17.

It soon emerged that Stokes, bowling his first over in a test match since March, had also overstepped the crease on his previous three deliveries and not been called for a no-ball by the umpires.

Later still, Australia’s Ashes broadcaster Channel 7 revealed Stokes had overstepped the front crease 14 times in Thursdays’ opening session and had only been called twice for a no-ball.

The missed opportunity on Warner was a problem for Stokes and for England. The amended decision: no-ball. Warner got to play on, one run was added to the total — in the sundries column — and an extra delivery had to be bowled in the over.

But it exposed a bigger problem for the match officials.

Cricket Australia said a technology problem at the Gabba meant that the third umpire, Paul Wilson, couldn’t review ball-by-ball TV replays to check if bowlers were over-stepping the crease, leaving it to the on-field umpires to make the calls. Wilson could only go to the tape to assess no-balls when wickets were at stake.

Ex-Australia test captain Ricky Ponting described it as “pathetic officiating” during the match commentary.

The International Cricket Council is responsible for the implementation of that system that helps the TV official to check for no-balls. It wasn't working Wednesday, when England was dismissed for 147, and again on Day 2.

England bowling coach Jon Lewis said both teams had been made aware that the TV umpire couldn't assess every delivery.

Still, he thought the on-field umpires should have been more proactive with Stokes, who was restricted to nine overs and had figures of 0-50, including three no-balls.

“What a fast bowler needs is some sort of understanding of where his feet are,” Lewis said. “That’s Ben’s first bowl on this ground in eight years. He’ll need some feedback from the umpires, to then make an adjustment.”

Lewis said if umpires had been proactive early, Stokes may have fixed his run-up before he'd got through Warner's defenses.

In the end, Warner scored 94 and helped Australia reach 343-7 at the end of Day 2, a first-innings lead of 196 runs with three wickets in hand.

Before a change in the rules last year, it was standard practice for on-field umpires to inform bowlers when they were close to over-stepping and then to signal a no-ball.

England captain Joe Root, speaking to Fox Cricket early Thursday, said missing the chance against Warner was “frustrating.”

“The fact we’re creating a good number of chances is really pleasing," he said. "We’ve got to stay confident ... keep trusting what we’re doing and believing we’ll get the rewards."

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