Cricket World Cup 2019: Get out of the groove - why have bails lost their zing?

SKY SPORT
David Warner had a lucky let-off but it wasn't enough to save Australia from defeat to India at The Oval.

Maybe now Virat Kohli has weighed into the debate, something might be done about the curious case of the Zing bails.

Quite what that is, however, is another matter as the biggest mystery of this Cricket World Cup had another chapter added on Monday (NZT).

India's captain demanded the International Cricket Council look into it, after Australia's David Warner became the fifth batsman in 13 matches to survive the ball hitting his stumps.

Zings bails were approved by the International Cricket Council in 2012 and were used for the first time at a World Cup four years ago.
ANDREW CORNAGA/PHOTOSPORT
Zings bails were approved by the International Cricket Council in 2012 and were used for the first time at a World Cup four years ago.

The delivery from India's speedster Jasprit Bumrah clattered the base of Warner's leg stump, via inside edge and boot, but the Australian-invented Zing bails wouldn't be dislodged.

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Warner was on one at the time and added 55 more runs, but his reprieve wasn't pivotal in the result as India won by 36 runs at The Oval.

The expression on Jasprit Bumrah's face says it all, after he bowled Australia's David Warner and the bails didn't dislodge at The Oval.
AIJAZ RAHI/AP
The expression on Jasprit Bumrah's face says it all, after he bowled Australia's David Warner and the bails didn't dislodge at The Oval.

With 35 batsmen having been out bowled at the tournament, the five reprieves represented one-eighth of those who'd had their stumps hit. It hasn't decided a match yet, with all five on the eventual losing side: Warner, Sri Lanka's Dimuth Karunaratne (against New Zealand's Trent Boult), South Africa's Quinton de Kock (against England's Adil Rashid), West Indies' Chris Gayle (against Australia's Mitchell Starc) and Bangladesh's Mohammad Saifuddin (against England's Ben Stokes).

For whatever reason it's become an issue only in recent months. It happened several times during the Indian Premier League, including one incident where batsman Chris Lynn began walking off, the bail having lit up and lifted, before it nestled back in its groove.

"Definitely [it needs to be looked at], this is not something which you expect at the international level," Kohli said.

"You literally have to smash the stumps really hard, and I'm saying that as a batsman. And these are fast bowlers. These are not your medium-paced bowlers.

"I have no idea what's going on due to the lights coming on, if the stump is too thick or too rigid."

But what can be done? No one knows for sure whether the stumps are too firmly anchored in the ground, the bails are too heavy, or option three put forward by Black Caps allrounder Jimmy Neesham on Twitter:

David Warner was finally gone for 56, but should have been out for one if the bails had fallen against India.
HENRY BROWNE/GETTY IMAGES
David Warner was finally gone for 56, but should have been out for one if the bails had fallen against India.

"I understand that the electronics in the stumps and the bails make them heavier. Why can't the groove the bails sit in just be made shallower? Won't that fix the problem?"

Zing bails were invented in Adelaide, and officially approved by the International Cricket Council in 2012. They were used at the 2015 World Cup in New Zealand and Australia, and undoubtedly add to the game for players, and make it a lot clearer for viewers at the ground and on TV.

The bails contain an LED light that is activated when they are dislodged from their groove. Zing International director Bronte Eckermann said of his invention in 2016: "While crowd excitement in limited over cricket has traditionally been for the batsman and big hits, what I love about our product is that it gives the bowler that celebration moment too."

Hmm. Maybe not so much now.

The Laws of Cricket state a batsman is considered bowled if "a bail is completely removed from the top of the stumps, or a stump is struck out of the ground".

Law 29.1.2 adds: "The disturbance of a bail, whether temporary or not, shall not constitute its complete removal from the top of the stumps."

So are the Zing bails noticeably heavier than the traditional wooden ones?

The bails aren't going anywhere as India's MS Dhoni bats against Australia.
FRANK AUGSTEIN/AP
The bails aren't going anywhere as India's MS Dhoni bats against Australia.

The ICC responded at the weekend, insisting the Zing bails at the World Cup weighed somewhere between a light bail and a heavy one, the latter used at venues like Wellington's Basin Reserve where strong winds can whip them off.

"The Zing bails perform exactly as the regular ones and, in fact, are lighter than those used by umpires when it is windy," an ICC spokesman told the Telegraph.

"The lights make any movement more noticeable."

Australia's Usman Khawaja wasn't saved by the bails, as India's Jasprit Bumrah got his man at The Oval.
AIJAZ RAHI/AP
Australia's Usman Khawaja wasn't saved by the bails, as India's Jasprit Bumrah got his man at The Oval.

Umpires are permitted to play on without bails on rare occasions, but they need a compelling reason like gale force winds at the Basin. They then become the sole judges of whether the wicket is broken, for which the bails was meant to be the best method.

Cricket's Laws state the bails, when placed atop the stumps, shall not project more than 1.27cm above them.

Saved by the bails: Black Caps captain Kane Williamson survived this certain run out when Bangladesh wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim dislodged the bails before catching the ball.
GRAHAM MORRIS/PHOTOSPORT
Saved by the bails: Black Caps captain Kane Williamson survived this certain run out when Bangladesh wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim dislodged the bails before catching the ball.

The overall length of each bail shall be 10.95cm, with the 'barrel' 5.4cm and longer 'spigot' (the skinny part) 3.5cm.

The importance of the humble bail was shown when Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson survived what looked a certain run out against Bangladesh last week.

Williamson was well short of his ground but Bangladesh gloveman Mushfiqur Rahim broke the stumps and dislodged both bails with his elbow before catching the ball.

The Laws state if the bails are already off, the fielder or wicketkeeper must completely remove a stump before a run out can be completed.

But that's another issue. This current one could become a major controversy if it happens at a crucial stage of a tight match, so maybe Neesham's suggestion needs exploring.

The Warner reprieve was described as "ridiculous" by former England captain Michael Vaughan on the BBC commentary. "If you're not getting out when you're getting bowled, it's a concern. Something needs to be done. It's madness."

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