England captain Ben Stokes hands Steve Smith a massive let-off

England captain Ben Stokes hands Steve Smith a massive let-off after he dropped one-handed catch while celebrating in yet another dramatic Ashes moment that left fans split

  • Delivery by Moeen Ali looped up off Steve Smith’s gloves to Ben Stokes
  • England captain appeared to have taken a superb one-handed grab
  • But Stokes then dropped the ball while appearing to throw it up in celebration
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England were denied a crucial Ashes wicket when captain Ben Stokes dropped a one-handed catch when already celebrating.

In yet another moment that divided the opinion of cricket fans during a dramatic series, Stokes gave Australian batter Steve Smith a huge reprieve as the tourists pursued 384 for a 3-1 win.

But debate raged over whether Stokes was in control of the ball sufficiently to complete the catch before he dropped it to the turf.

It appeared that Stokes was about to throw the ball into the air in celebration of the prize wicket after it looped up off Smith’s gloves off Moeen Ali’s bowling and he grabbed it above his head.

It was given not out by umpire Joel Wilson, cutting loud celebrations short at The Oval, with Stokes appearing to accept he’d dropped it right away instead of completing the catch.

Ben Stokes appeared to have taken an outstanding one-handed catch above his head after the ball looped off the gloves of Australian batter Steve Smith

Stokes appeared to have the ball safely in his hands as Smith looked back ruefully and England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow (right) began to celebrate

But as Stokes started to celebrate, he lost control of the ball as it fell to the turf

Stokes seemed to know immediately that the catch wouldn’t count as it was reviewed

Stokes and the England team wait around nervously for the verdict on the dropped catch

Stokes’s hand appeared to brush his thigh as he went to throw the ball into the air, causing him to lose control of it.  

Former England captain Sir Alastair Cook said on Test Match Special: ‘Absolutely the right decision from the umpires, he didn’t have it under control to have the catch.’

The rules of cricket, section 33.3 entitled ‘Making a catch’, reads: ‘The act of making a catch shall start from the time when the ball first comes into contact with a fielder’s person and shall end when a fielder obtains complete control over both the ball and his/her own movement.’

Fans on X were split over whether the catch was completed.

One wrote: ‘That’s a drop – should have focused on it sticking rather than celebrating it but I get the emotion. Probably a big turning point.’

Another said: ‘Stokes mate all you had to do was wait an extra second before celebrating and it’s out.’

But other disagreed, claiming Smith was out. One wrote: ‘He didn’t drop it though, he celebrated a catch.’

‘Joke of a decision,’ fumed another cricket fan.

‘Didn’t drop it tho did he. He caught it cleanly then as he went to throw it up it his his knee,’ claimed another.

Stokes leaps to take the one-handed ‘catch’ of Smith before letting the Australian off the hook

The ball slips from Stokes’s grasp as he celebrates what would have been a massive wicket

Smith was on 40 at the time of the contentious moment, on the stroke of lunch on the fifth and final day of the last Ashes Test. 

England needed all 10 Australian wickets to secure a 2-2 series draw, albeit with the tourists retaining the urn.

Chris Woakes struck to remove both openers – David Warner and Usman Khawaja – after their laid a 135-run platform entering day five.

Mark Wood took the wicket of Marnus Labuschagne but Smith and Travis Head had put on 68 runs for the fourth wicket to make Australia favourites again. 

The incident had echoes of the dropped catch by South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs off Australia’s Steve Waugh during the 1999 World Cup.

Gibbs too attempted to throw the ball up in the air in celebration before he had complete control over it. Waugh went on to make a century and Australia won the tournament.

On this day some 23 years ago, Herschelle Gibbs famously dropped Steve Waugh as the Australia captain went on to make a match-winning century against South Africa at the 1999 ICC Cricket World Cup 🏆

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