The final day of the fifth Ashes Test witnessed a thrilling rollercoaster ride of emotions, much like the rest of the series. However, rain intervened and delayed proceedings after Lunch, adding further drama to the already tense situation. As Australia chased a target of 384, they started strongly with David Warner and Usman Khawaja forming a formidable opening partnership of over 150 runs.
England, desperate to avoid a series defeat at home to Australia after two decades, made a spirited comeback. Chris Woakes dismissed both Khawaja and Warner in consecutive overs, followed by Mark Wood claiming the crucial wicket of Marnus Labuschagne. Suddenly, Australia went from 140/0 to 169/3, making the chase more challenging. The game-changing moment came just before Lunch when Steve Smith’s wicket was saved by a bizarre sequence of events.
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Off the first ball of the last over before the break, Moeen Ali’s delivery looped up behind Smith, and Stokes, standing at leg slip, appeared to have taken the catch. However, the ball popped out of his hands, leading to celebrations, followed by a review by England. Replays revealed that Stokes had indeed taken a one-handed catch above his head but lost control of the ball, leading to the decision being overturned.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 31, 2023
This incident triggered discussions and raised questions about the rules surrounding catches in cricket. A similar situation had occurred earlier in the series when Mitchell Starc’s catch to dismiss England opener Ben Duckett was ruled not out by the third umpire, citing the fielder’s lack of complete control over the ball after catching it. The laws state that a catch is deemed legitimate only when the fielder has complete control over both the ball and their movement.
As the rain persisted, the match’s fate hung in the balance, and both teams awaited the opportunity to resume play. With the series delicately poised, every decision and moment could prove crucial in determining the Ashes winner.
Players and fans took to social media to share their reactions to the controversial moment, with discussions ranging from the interpretation of the laws to the impact on the series’ outcome.
Being blocked by Pommies while questioning tough question about there Skipper Ben Stokes.
What do you think if that was given out Ben Stokes take that appeal back or not 🤔
— Charlie (@Shanks63331148) July 31, 2023
— Shirish 🦭 (@tipsy_spock) July 31, 2023
— MS World (@MSWorld7777) July 31, 2023
A very big decisive moment in the Ashes 2023. Ben Stokes puts down a sitter to celebrate a catch. A big reprieve for Steven Smith.
A Steve Waugh-Herchelle Gibbs moment in Ashes 2023 finale.#Ashes #BenStokes #CricketTwitter
— Nishan Sapkota (@NishanSapkota_7) July 31, 2023
— Aly🇦🇺 (@_thealy_) July 31, 2023