It was a moment that summed up England’s desperate day at the WACA.
Gasping for a breakthrough in the post-lunch session, with Steven Smith entrenched on 173 not out and tearing chunks out of their first-innings total of 403, James Anderson went up for an lbw appeal as he wriggled one through Smith’s defences and into his pads.
Joe Root didn’t look entirely convinced as he opted to gamble on his team’s final review – having already wasted one on Smith – although given the importance of the wicket to his team’s cause, he was more or less obliged to have another spin.
Besides, under the new regulations for the use of DRS, England could at least expect not to be penalised if the ball was shown to be clipping leg stump (as indeed it eventually was).
Unfortunately for England, however, the replay revealed something else that had gone unnoticed in the heat of the moment. After examining all the angles of Anderson’s front foot, TV umpire Aleem Dar rightly deemed that no part of his boot had been behind the popping crease at the point of delivery, and signalled to Chris Gaffaney that he should call a no-ball.
It was a double indiginty for Anderson, because – with his economical and well-grooved run-up – he almost never oversteps the mark (not in that way, at any rate).
ESPNcricinfo’s records reveal that, in the course of a 132-Test career that will have featured more than 29,000 deliveries by the end of this match, Anderson has bowled just 38 no-balls – and they have become more and more scarce the longer his career has progressed.
Since the start of 2011, Anderson has bowled nine no-balls in the course of 76 Tests, and just two in 41 Tests (this one included) since the start of 2014.
That other most recent no-ball, incidentally, also occurred in the current series – and it wasn’t even a line call. In the closing stages of the first Test at Brisbane, with England’s bowlers once again bereft of ideas, Anderson unleashed an attempted slower ball, which slipped out as a huge wide full toss.
As ESPNcricinfo’s ball-by-ball commentary wrote at the time: “Sums up England’s day.” Plus a change.