It is the end of the 2005 Ashes Test at Edgbaston, perhaps the greatest of all Tests played. Michael Kasprowicz has just gloved a brutal bouncer from Steve Harmison down the leg side. Madly, England have won the Test by two runs, to level the Ashes series. We all know what happens next.
Only, footage later showed that Kasprowicz’s hand was off his bat when his glove made contact with the ball. So, according to the laws of cricket, he should not have been given out. Without the simple luck of this umpiring error, it is easy to construct a whole alternative history of 2005.
Australia scramble the other three runs they need to win, going 2-0 up in the series. Then, England fail to win the last three Tests – as they would then have needed to do to regain the Ashes – Australia’s domination of the urn extends far beyond 16 years, and cricket’s 2005 moment never happens.
It is equally easy to construct an alternative history of the end of the 2019 Cricket World Cup final. When England need nine runs off the final three balls, and Ben Stokes hurtles back for two, the ball does not hit his bat and ricochet for another four runs.
Or, the scenario pans out exactly the same way, but the umpires react differently. Simon Taufel, a member of the MCC laws sub-committee, has said that a “clear mistake” was made by the on-field umpires during the pandemonium. Rather than awarding Stokes six runs on account of the overthrows, Taufel told Fox Sports, the umpires should have awarded him only five, in accordance with Rule 19.8 of the MCC laws of the game.
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