Controversial Catch Drama

Controversial Catch Drama: Steve Smith and Joe Root Stir Up Ashes Conflict
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The historic Ashes series between England and Australia has always been an intense battle, marked by memorable cricketing moments. However, the fourth Test at Old Trafford in 2023 witnessed a contentious catch drama involving former captains Steve Smith and Joe Root that sparked a heated debate over the spirit of cricket and the interpretation of technology in decision-making. This blog delves into the incident, its implications, and the wider impact on the cricketing world.

The Catch Drama

On day three of the fourth Test, Australia’s Steve Smith faced a delivery from England’s Chris Woakes. The ball seemed to edge towards Joe Root, fielding at first slip. Root appeared to take the catch, but his immediate reaction raised suspicions, as he looked down to the ground without celebrating. After a moment of confusion, the England team encouraged the umpires to review the catch using multiple camera angles and replays.

The Review and Umpire Decision

The review process proved challenging, as various camera angles made it difficult to conclusively determine whether the ball had carried to Root or touched the ground before he claimed the catch. Third umpire Kumar Dharmasena faced a critical decision, whether Smith was in complete control of the ball and his movements and whether his fingers were underneath the ball preventing it from touching the ground.

The Laws of Cricket and Interpretation

To understand the controversy, it is essential to refer to Law 33 of the Laws of Cricket, which deals with catches. As per the law, a catch is deemed fair when the fielder holds the ball in their hand or hands, even if the hand with the ball is touching the ground. Yet, the process of making a catch commences the moment the ball makes contact with a fielder and concludes when they gain full control over both the ball and their movements.

The debate centred around whether the ball had touched the ground at any point during the catch. Replays suggested that there was a moment when the ball was in contact with the grass as Smith caught and rolled. However, it was judged that with his fingers around the ball, the ball had not touched the ground. This interpretation led to Smith surviving the dismissal, much to the dismay of the English team and their fans.

Spirit of Cricket and Controversial Decisions

The incident reignited discussions about the “spirit of cricket,” which encompasses the principles of fair play, sportsmanship, and integrity. Some cricketing pundits questioned Joe Root’s actions, suggesting that his attempt to claim the catch might not have been in the true spirit of the game. They argued that players should prioritize honesty and uphold the values that make cricket a gentleman’s sport.

The Impact on the Game and Series

Beyond the controversy itself, the incident had ramifications for the ongoing Ashes series. Steve Smith’s survival could have impacted the course of the game, as he is a key batsman for Australia. As the Australians trailed by 162 runs on day three, the match’s outcome remained uncertain and crucial to the series.


The controversial catch drama involving Steve Smith and Joe Root has brought attention to the challenges of decision-making in cricket, particularly in the age of advanced technology. While the debate over the spirit of cricket continues, players and officials need to uphold the integrity and sportsmanship that define this revered sport. As the Ashes series unfolds, fans around the world eagerly await how this intense rivalry will play out, with each catch, decision, and moment becoming an essential part of cricketing folklore.

Photo By: PXFUEL

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