England stumped by Oxenfold


Would someone please pass Bruce Oxenford a bottle of Scotch and the revolver?

As the third umpire in yesterday’s Champions Trophy final, what on earth – I mean just what on earth – was he doing when he gave Ian Bell out stumped?

Bell had pushed forward to Ravindra Jadeja, and missed – but when MS Dhoni removed the bails, Bell’s back foot was  – as you can see above – both on the ground, and behind the crease. Not by much, but by enough.

So far, so good, from an English point of view – until Oxenford, entirely inexplicably, decided that foot down behind crease = out. And thus, Bell had to go. WTF?

My analysis, based on twelve hours reflection, may seem a little crude, but boils down to the following possibilities about Bruce Oxenford’s faculties:

– he doesn’t know the laws of cricket

– he suffered a temporary bout of insanity

– he is completely stupid

– he cannot see.

Some people have described the replays which ultimately condemned Bell as ‘inconclusive’ – and if so, Oxenfold should have reprieved the batsman with the benefit of the doubt. But they are hardly inconclusive – the pictures show that Bell was in.

In the past, you could defend umpires by saying that they only saw the action once, at full speed. With video decisions, however, we can all see exactly the same evidence – at the same speed and as many times – as the third umpire does. We knew it was in. So why, on the same evidence, did the official believe the opposite – and with enough confidence to convict?

Oxenfold should be sacked. At the very least, he is obliged to explain in public exactly what was his rationale, and why he gave Bell out. Umpires generally deserve a large degree of deference and respect, and on this particular blog we very rarely criticise them. But they are not beyond censure or criticism, and the responsibilities they assume, and the fees they are paid, make them accountable.

Did Oxenfold’s decision cost us the match yesterday? Yes. You can argue quite forcefully that, with 20 required from the last 16 balls, our batsmen should still have closed out the game. Bell’s dismissal, however, changed the balance of the match, and the batsmen at the crease, which meant that everything that followed was different from would have happened otherwise. Had Bell survived, the equation with 16 balls to come would have been different. And remember, we ultimately only lost by five runs.

In the end, then, other 50-over world tournament ends in heartbreak for us. Forever the bridesmaid, never the bride, we have now lost in the final five times – the 1979, 1987 and 1992 World Cups, and the 2004 Champions Trophy, along with yesterday’s debacle. Three of those five defeats have been at home. Alastair Cook spoke of how much the disappointment at Edgbaston hurt the team, but they should spare a thought for us, the followers, who have had to endure these near-misses all our lives. It’s easier for the players – they only have to go through this once; we have to do it time and again.

The rain didn’t help, because the T20 format the weather effectively imposed made the final more of a lottery, and worked against our strengths – the capacity of our bowling to throttle the opposition batting for long periods. Instead of twenty overs from Anderson and Broad, the shortening of the match meant they could only bowl eight.

Will yesterday’s anti-climax affect our team’s confidence and morale for the Ashes? You’d hope not. We still played pretty well, overall, and by the time the series gets underway (and with a slightly different squad), Edgbaston will more or less have been forgotten. You would far rather be in our position than Australia’s – and we’ll be back on Wednesday to discuss the latest calamities in the Baggy Green camp.


  • I might add that the 3rd umpire, just as inexplicably, gave India a boundary when it clearly was not earlier in the day. Bresnan stopped the ball with a slide on by boundary rope. He subsequently moved the rope due to his momentum, but at this point he was not touching the ball – and neither did the ball at any point cross the imaginary line where the rope originally was. Bresnan got to his feet, threw the ball back to the keeper, and the on-field umpires decided to check it. The replays confirmed it was not a 4, yet the 3rd umpire decided it was. This cost us two runs, and tredwell would’ve needed 4 to win off the last ball, not 6.

    Once again we have to ask whether oxenford is either blind, or does not know the rules of cricket. A cynic might also suggest that an illegal bookmaker had a gun to his head and told him to influence the number of boundaries scored, but we wouldn’t possibly suggest such a thing as it would be libelous.

    At the end of the day, however, India are a more dynamic ODI team than us, and on balance deserved to win the tournament. However, questions must be asked why it felt like a home game to India. We can’t stop their fans being more passionate than ours about one day cricket (and buying more tickets), but we can ask why the pitch was a flaming bunsen! Played right into their hands. Talk about inept.

  • Giving Broad ‘not out’ about half an hour later for an identical incident, shows that Oxenford, indeed, is completely stupid.

    • I thought the Broad one was more out than Bells! Maybe everyone in Asia had money on a wicket in the final over ;-)

  • Crazy though the Bell decision was, we still chucked the game away. The bowlers performed admirably as they did throughout the tournament (and Bopara’s spell was a revelation), but yet again our batsmen were clueless against spin when the pressure was on. Ishant’s bowling was awful, but maybe Morgan and Bopara felt they needed to finish the job that over knowing they’d face spin in the last two. Nerves in the field cost us too – 6 runs given away in overthrows proved the difference in a tight game. Credit to India though – they look the complete ODI side and, with the old guard finally retired, can only get better. We could have helped ourselves by preparing a pitch that wouldn’t look out of place in Mumbai!

  • Bitter much Maxie? Next you’ll be coming up with some conspiracy about how the ICC only wants India to win.

    Maybe you should focus on how your team choked in one of the easiest chases seen in an ICC final.

    • Concentrate on your own game Mr Binnie. Shouldn’t you be focusing on winning your place in the side back from Mohammad Azabiggun?!

  • I don’t think it was a conspiracy – not in the slightest. Oxenfold was simply stupid/blind/ ignorant of the laws.


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