It was the second innings in the highly anticipated World Cup match between India and Australia on Sunday. Jasprit Bumrah was set to deliver his first ball. At the other end was Australia's opener David Warner, who found himself facing a short-pitch delivery.
The ball ricocheted off an inside edge from Warner and hit the base of his leg-stump. Just when it seemed like Bumrah had dismissed Australia's in-form batsman, the bails on top of the wicket had other ideas as it remained intact and refused to budge.
This was not the first time the 'zing bails' used in this year's World Cup which lights up when the stumps are hit, showed no signs of moving despite the ball hitting the stumps.
Warner then went on to score a half century for his team and although India won the match, the 'immovable' bails failing bowlers in this World Cup has become a topic of discussion.
"I mean, this is not something which you expect at the international level," complained Indian skipper Virat Kohli after the match. "I think with the technology it's great...But you literally have to smash the stumps really hard, and I'm saying that as a batsman. I am sure no team would like seeing stuff like that when you actually bowl a good ball and then you don't get the guy out. The ball hits the stump and the lights don't come on, or the lights come on and the bail comes back on to the stump. I haven't seen that happen so many times in the past," he said.
Kohli was accurate in his observation. In just 10 days of the tournament, there have been five instances in which the zing bails failed to fall even though the ball hit the stumps. Earlier, Quinton de Kock (off Adil Rashid), Dimuth Karunaratne (off Trent Boult), Chris Gayle (off Mitchell Starc) and Mohammad Saifuddin (off Ben Stokes) all had luck on their side as the bails didn't fall even after the ball hit that stumps. In some cases, the ball hit the stumps at pace and yet failed to dislodge the bails. .
Initially, it was believed that the bails, due to the lights in them, were heavier than the traditional equipment used but the International Cricket Council has since clarified that this is not the case. Moreover, the cricket body refused to review the usage of the zing bails. "The zing bails perform exactly as the regular ones and, in fact, are lighter than those used by umpires when it is windy," an ICC spokesperson told The Telegraph. "The lights make any movement more noticeable."
But current and former cricketers are expressing their frustration over the failure of the bails to dislodge. "It is an issue. We were on the right side of it this time. But it's unfair isn't it?" asked Australian skipper Aaron Finch after the match against India. "You wouldn't want it to happen in a World Cup final or semifinal. I don't know what they can do though. Not sure how much lighter they can make it," he said.
Former Indian batsman Subramaniam Badrinath however opined that the problem is not the weight of the bails but the grooves, where it meets the stumps. "I am being told that the grooves are deeper for the zing bails than the regular ones and is therefore difficult to dislodge," he says. "But whatever the issue is, the ICC has to address it. Bowlers are facing the same issue in several matches and we can't compromise on equipment. Even a single wicket could decide a match," he adds.
Meanwhile, bowlers pointed out that their job was hard enough already. Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar was also off the view that the ICC needs to take a look over the issue. "What's going on?? In my entire life, I have not seen 5 instances like this, let alone in the space of 10 days or a tournament," he tweeted.
Today is the 5th instance of ball hitting the stumps and bails not falling.— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) June 9, 2019
5th instance, WITHIN this World Cup.
Whats going on??
In my entire life i have not seen 5 instances like this, let alone in the space of 10 days or a tournament!!#AUSvIND #CWC19
Former England captain Nasser Hussain too expressed his dismay and said, "This can't keep happening with the bails !!! Hard enough being a bowler nowadays... needs changing."
This can’t keep happening with the bails !!! Hard enough being a bowler nowadays .. needs changing— Nasser Hussain (@nassercricket) June 9, 2019
Another former Indian cricketer Hemang Badani meanwhile points out that the straightforward solution to the issue is to simply eliminate the use of bails. "Bails have now become completely redundant in Indian cricket. Till a year back, I understand we needed the bails to indicate if the stumps were by the ball, bat or the wicket-keeper's gloves. But now, we have cricket stumps that light up on impact. So why do even need the bails?" he asks. "The ICC needs to act but such changes will definitely take time. All organisations are resistant to change."