Henry Nicholls must have upset the cricket gods into handing him such an unfortunate disgrace that no one who saw it could believe it.
England’s Jack Leach was left pondering a ‘silly game’ after capturing Henry Nicholls’ wicket in bizarre fashion on the opening day of the third Test against New Zealand at Headingley.
The left-arm spinner’s career has been blighted by illness, injury, inconsistent selection and even a concussion sustained while chasing the ball to the limit in the first Test of this three-match campaign at Lord’s.
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So it could be said that he had a moment of good fortune and it came a day after his 31st birthday.
Nicholls, on the tee hit, hit Leach hard only for the ball to bounce off non-forward Daryl Mitchell’s bat and smooth past Alex Lees down the middle.
“It was unbelievable, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Leach told reporters after Thursday’s close.
“I didn’t even know if that was allowed, but I’ll take any wicket I can get. You get enough that it doesn’t go your way. It was very unlucky for Nicholls but very lucky for me.”
If that was a bonus wicket, there was no denying the skill with which Leach had struck with his first ball of the day to have Will Young LBW with a delivery that spun and straightened.
Leach, considering the contrast between his wickets at an economic performance of 2/75 in 30 overs, added: “It’s a silly game, isn’t it? That’s what made me think, it’s a stupid game we play.
“I like it because it says two wickets up the board, but I don’t like the dismissal.”
New Zealand hitting coach Luke Ronchi accepted Leach’s fate in a sporting manner, but suggested Nicholls may have felt differently about an extraordinary finish to a 19-inning, 99-ball graft.
“I like that kind of stuff that happens, you can always say you were there at the time and if you take those factors out of the game it could make things pretty boring,” Ronchi said. “Unfortunately for Henry, it is the passing of him. We gave him some space afterwards.”
The wicket recalls former Australian star Andrew Symonds hitting a ball against non-striker Michael Clarke only for it to swell to a fielder for an easy catch during a one-day international against Sri Lanka.
The cricket world was stunned by Nicholls’ misfortune. A Sky Sports UK cricket commentator called it “just unbelievable”, while former England captain Nasser Hussain added: “That can’t be.” I can’t believe that, I really can’t.”
The official England Cricket social media account tweeted: “What the hell!?”
England, already leading 2-0 against New Zealand and looking to complete a clean sweep of the series, took three wickets before lunch after losing the toss in seemingly ideal batting conditions, with Stuart Broad hitting twice in the absence of the winger. injured lance and the new ball of a long time. partner James Anderson.
But the Black Caps, a year after they defeated India in the inaugural World Test Championship final in Southampton, recovered to 5/225 thanks to an unbroken 102 position between Mitchell and Tom Blundell in form.
His third century stand in the series followed alliances worth 195 at Lord’s and 236 at Trent Bridge.
Mitchell will now be looking at his third century of the season when he resumes his 78 overnight, not away.
“I think mentally he’s been very positive in what he’s trying to do,” Ronchi said of Mitchell. “He knows his style of play and his game plan, sticks with him and trusts him.”
Originally published as ‘What the heck?’: Cricket world can’t believe ‘most unfortunate dismissal in history’