The dismissal of Henry Nicholls during the third Test between New Zealand and England left spectators and commentators stunned.
In what is considered to be one of the most bizarre and unusual dismissals in Test history, Nicholls was caught at mid-off by Daryl Mitchell after hitting a ball that ricocheted off the bat of the non-striker.
Mitchell could not get out of the way in time as the ball hit the non-striker’s bat and went straight to Alex Lees.
The ICC’s official law 188.8.131.52 states that a catch can be considered fair if it has touched the ground, an umpire, a runner, or the other batter.
Jack Leach, the bowler who delivered the ball, looked stunned as his teammates celebrated his dismissal. It appeared that he had no idea what had happened.
Former England captain Michael Atherton speaking on Sky Sports, said he had never seen anything like it. After struggling for almost a hundred balls, Henry Nicholls finally got a boundary by hitting the middle of the bat to Alex Lees. Mitchell, who was at the non-striker’s end, tried to protect himself from the ball’s impact by extending his bat out of the way.
“He couldn’t have done it any better if he’d tried. It’s like one-handed catching practice. It’s an unbelievable moment,” said Atherton.
After the day’s play, Leach was still unsure if the catch was allowed. He said that it was a fantastic moment and that he was fortunate to have been able to take the two wickets that he had. However, the 31-year-old admitted that he didn’t like the way the dismissal had happened. He said he was very disappointed by the way the ball hit Mitchell’s bat and that he would not watch the incident replay many times.
“I like the fact I have two wickets on the board but, to be honest, I didn’t like the dismissal. It’s not something I’ll re-watch many times,” Leach said.
The incident evoked memories of Andrew Symonds’ controversial dismissal against Sri Lanka in a one-day international match earlier this year. He was caught after a ball that had ricocheted off the bat of Michael Clarke.
New Zealand counter-attack
After the dismissal of Nicholls, Mitchell and Tom Blundell played a familiar counterattack to help New Zealand fight back on the first day of the final Test.
The visitors reached the close of the day at 5-225, with Mitchell and Tom Blundell at the crease on 78 and 45, respectively. Mitchell was on his way to a third hundred of the series and was still not out.
The partnership between the two New Zealand batters has been very fruitful, as they have put on a total of 195 runs so far in the series. They added another unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 102 to give the tourists hope of a consolation victory.
Mitchell was able to get a life on eight after being given life by Ben Stokes, who opted not to review the decision. He was caught behind the stumps after a full delivery from Matthew Potts had swung in.
Had Ben Stokes reviewed the decision, Mitchell would have been out, and the tourists would have been at 5-97. He played with the same energy he showed during his stay in England, and his two sixes off the spin of Jack Leach took him past 50.
To conserve energy, Ben Stokes did not bowl during the middle session. This strategy was also to save him for the one-off Test against India starting next week.