Cricket fans and commentators were left in disbelief on Thursday after Henry Nicholls was dismissed in extraordinary circumstances in the third Test between England and New Zealand.
In one of the most bizarre dismissals in Test cricket history, Nicholls was caught at mid-off after hitting a ball that rebounded off the bat of non-striker Daryl Mitchell.
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Mitchell couldn't get out of the way in time after Nicholls punched the ball down the ground, with the ball ballooning off the non-striker's bat and straight to Alex Lees on the full.
Law 184.108.40.206 of the ICC's official rules state a catch will be deemed fair if: "A fielder catches the ball after it has touched the wicket, an umpire, another fielder, a runner or the other batter."
Jack Leach, who bowled the delivery, put his hands in the air in utter confusion as his teammates started celebrating the dismissal.
It looked as though Leach genuinely had no idea what had happened and how he had picked up a wicket.
Speaking in commentary for Sky Sports, former England captain Michael Atherton said: “I have never seen anything like that.
“Henry Nicholls was battling away, looking a bit out of sorts, 19 runs in almost 100 balls.
“And then he finally gets one out of the middle of the bat.
“Daryl Mitchell at the non-striker's end, trying to protect himself and get his bat out of the way, hits it to Alex Lees.
“He couldn’t have done it any better if he’d tried. It’s like one-handed catching practice. It’s an unbelievable moment.”
Speaking after stumps, Leach said: “It was unbelievable. I didn’t even know if that was allowed, I’ve never seen anything like it. But I’ll take any wicket I can - you get enough that don’t go your way.
“It’s a silly game, isn’t it? It was very unlucky for Nicholls but very lucky for me. The ball came right out of the middle of Mitchell’s bat and Leesy wants me to mention that it was a good catch by him
“I like the fact I have two wickets on the board but, to be honest, I didn’t like the dismissal. It’s not something I’ll re-watch many times.”
The freak dismissal evoked memories of one involving Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke, in which Symonds was caught after hitting a ball that rebounded off Clarke in a one-dayer against Sri Lanka.
Pity Symonds isn’t with us, he would have enjoyed having a beer with Nicholls … https://t.co/OQKSJzbwED
— parklanedriving (@parklanedriving) June 23, 2022
Fans flocked to social media in absolute disbelief over the freak moment.
— Test Match Special (@bbctms) June 23, 2022
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) June 23, 2022
That. Is. Incredible. I honestly love cricket because of these mad moments. Did you see Joe Buttler six yesterday off a no ball in the ODI?
— Tony Grie⚫️⚪️ (@tonygrie) June 23, 2022
This is a ridiculous rule. This should be scrapped. At the very best the ball can be considered a dead ball and matter should end there. Why should the batsman get out after playing a perfect cricket shot?
— Hassan Imam (@HImamDgp) June 23, 2022
What on earth happened there?
Have you ever seen a more bizarre dismissal in recent times?
You have to feel for Henry Nicholls there. 😱pic.twitter.com/TcAgCjqnDA
— 12th Khiladi (@12th_khiladi) June 23, 2022
New Zealand counter attack after Henry Nicholls dismissal
After Nicholls' dismissal, Mitchell and Tom Blundell launched a familiar counter attack as New Zealand fought back on day one of the final Test.
The visitors battled to reach 5-225 by the close of play at Headingley, with Blundell on 45 and Mitchell on 78 and closing in on his third century of the series.
The Kiwi batters have shared partnerships of 195 and 236 already in the three-match series in which England hold an unassailable 2-0 lead.
They put on an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 102 on Thursday, giving the tourists renewed hope of a consolation victory.
Mitchell capitalised after being given a life when on eight by England captain Ben Stokes, who chose to not review when the New Zealand batter was trapped shin height in front of the stumps from a full delivery by Matthew Potts that swung in.
Had Stokes reviewed, Mitchell would have been on his way and the tourists would have been 5-97 and without their best player over the past month.
Mitchell played with the same energy he has shown since arriving in England, sweeping and pulling well before the second of two spiralling sixes off Leach took him past 50.
Meanwhile, Stokes stayed mysteriously out of the bowling attack, perhaps to save energy with the series won and with a one-off Test against India coming up next week.
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