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Cricket-Stokes no ball reveals Ashes tech malfunction

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By Reuters
Cricket-Ashes equipment malfunction sparks Stokes no-ball controversy
Cricket-Ashes equipment malfunction sparks Stokes no-ball controversy   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

SYDNEY -The International Cricket Council (ICC) expects technology that enables the third umpire to check for no balls to be available for the remainder of the Ashes series after it broke down ahead of the ongoing first test.

The ICC said that the England and Australia teams had been informed before the match at Brisbane’s Gabba that an equipment malfunction would mean a return to protocols used before the technology was introduced last year.

“We will continue with the old protocols during this match but expect the technology to be available again from the next test,” an ICC spokesperson said.

A no-ball call that denied England’s Ben Stokes a wicket on Thursday led to the revelation that the technology was not being used.

Stokes bowled David Warner with the fourth delivery of his first test over in more than nine months but the Australian was reprieved when TV replays showed the bowler’s front foot had landed in front of the line of the return crease.

TV pictures showed his previous three deliveries at Brisbane’s Gabba ground would also have been no balls but the all-rounder was unable to correct his run-up as they had not been called.

Under pre-2020 protocols, on-field umpires call a no ball if they see it but the position of the front foot will only be checked by the third umpire after a wicket falls.

Australian broadcaster Channel Seven later showed more than a dozen instances of Stokes over-stepping the mark on Thursday, suggesting the on-field umpires had got out of the habit of checking since the protocols changed.

Later, asked about getting bowled off a no-ball, Warner said: “You’ve got to try and keep your feet behind the line as a bowler.”

England bowling coach Jon Lewis said Stokes could have mended his run-up with an early no-ball call.

“What a fast bowler needs is some sort of understanding of where his feet are,” Lewis told a news conference.

“It would’ve been nice for his first ball to be called a no-ball, so he could then have made an adjustment, and from then he would’ve been behind the line because he then knows where his feet are.”

There were zero no balls called in England’s first innings on Wednesday.

Stokes, who was late to join the England squad in Australia after taking a break to focus on his mental health, was also denied his maiden Ashes wicket when he over-stepped the mark in the Adelaide test in 2013.

Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin was caught behind for 51 but went on to make 118 after his reprieve. Australia won the series 5-0.

Warner, who had made 17 runs when he got his reprieve, was finally dismissed for 94 on Thursday.