Angus Fraser: Is Finn's bails kick a distraction? Do me a favour

Batsmen look for ways to put a bowler off. Was this a tactic by wise old Smith?

Commonsense is not a word that appears prominently in cricket's Laws and Regulations but had it been used yesterday by umpire Steve Davis it would have forestalled a farcical situation. The predicament concerned the England fast bowler Steven Finn and the fact that he occasionally gets too close to the stumps in his delivery stride, a tendency that can result in his right knee dislodging the bails at the bowler's end as he delivers the ball.

In the past two or three years Finn has committed this apparent crime on numerous occasions while playing for Middlesex and England but, before yesterday, I have never seen an umpire call "dead ball" when it has happened. Little had been made of it by commentators or pundits, either. It had not been an issue. But it became one yesterday when Davis made the surprising call, which happened to coincide with Graeme Smith edging a Finn delivery to Andrew Strauss at first slip.

Prior to this, and after previously seeing Finn dislodge the bails while bowling to Alviro Petersen, Smith had gone to Davis to say it was a distraction. It obviously influenced the umpire's decision-making. Yet it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the wise old South African captain identified this as a potential opportunity to unsettle England's youngest and most hostile bowler.

Is the bails being removed a distraction for a batsman? Do me a favour. Batsmen look for ways to put a bowler off, the most common being stopping them in their run-up because, apparently, something/somebody is moving around the sight screen. It is a nonsense. Some batsmen, if they could, would try stopping airplanes flying behind a sight screen so they do not catch their eye. You'd never think they were paid to closely watch the ball.

If it was a tactic by Smith, it probably worked because the threat of a "dead ball" being called would have weighed heavily on Finn's mind as he ran in to bowl, in the same way that worrying about bowling no-balls would.

By signalling "dead ball" Davis set a dangerous precedent, which led to further non-balls being called. Umpires, of course, have the power to stop play when they want, which is what calling "dead ball" does. But by doing this, and with Finn dislodging the bails on several more occasions – which he tends to do more when bowling at left- handed batsmen – a farcical situation was arising. And why was it farcical? Because, according to the Laws and Regulations, Finn was doing absolutely nothing wrong.

Finn is not the first bowler to have occasionally knocked the bails off in delivering – there have been bowlers who have accidentally kicked stumps out of the ground in their final stride. Many, myself included, sometimes catch their fingers on the stumps as they swing their arm round to bowl. Shaun Pollock, the great South African fast bowler, used to do it, as did Mark Ealham, the Kent and England all-rounder. Hitting the stumps with your hand can cause you to bowl a bad ball but the biggest problem is that it bloody hurts.

Until now this has only been a minor issue for Finn. Yes, it is a signal that he is jumping in to the stumps at the moment of delivery rather than bowling through his action, but this is the sort of minor issue bowlers deal with on a daily basis. It can be easily corrected, probably by straightening his run-up a little.

Similar instances occurred during most, if not all, of Finn's previous Test, ODI and T20 matches this summer, and the games were completed without a hitch. Football managers talk about consistent decision-making; it has to be the same in cricket. Decisions have to be thought through, too.

Angus Fraser is a former England opening bowler

Suggested Topics
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform