Cricket has always been a sport known for its fair play and adherence to the “spirit of the game.” However, a recent dismissal during the Ashes series has ignited a heated debate surrounding the fine line between the spirit of the game and the letter of the law. In this article, we delve into the details of the controversial dismissal and the arguments put forth by both sides.

The Bizarre Dismissal

During the match, Johnny Bairstow, a player from the England cricket team, fell victim to a dismissive move by the Australian team. Bairstow, seemingly unaware of the situation, wandered off after the ball was bouncer over his head. He was busy fixing the divots on the ground and not paying attention. The Australian wicketkeeper, Alex Carey, took advantage of the situation and threw the ball at the stumps, catching Bairstow off guard and getting him out.

The Fallout and Controversy

Bairstow’s dismissal caused a significant stir and led to a flurry of controversy. The English team, as well as some cricket fans, argued that the dismissal was against the spirit of the game and displayed poor sportsmanship. They contended that Bairstow was not attempting to gain any advantage and that his dismissal was an unfair tactic.

A History of Similar Incidents

To provide context to the controversy, several examples of similar dismissals were brought up. Stuart Broad, a bowler for England, mocked Bairstow’s dismissal by never leaving his crease without ensuring the ball was dead. He emphasized the importance of paying attention to prevent such incidents. Moreover, the England coach, Chris Silverwood, highlighted instances where his team suffered dismissals due to similar inattentiveness, suggesting that Australia would regret their actions in the future.

The Spirit of the Game vs. the Letter of the Law

The debate surrounding the controversial dismissal revolves around the conflict between the spirit of the game and the letter of the law. The spirit of the game refers to the unwritten rules and fair play, while the letter of the law strictly adheres to the written rules. The cricket community finds itself divided over whether Bairstow’s dismissal was in line with the spirit of the game or if it was an acceptable outcome within the rules.

Gaining an Advantage

One argument raised by England is that Bairstow was not gaining any advantage through his actions. They point out that in similar instances, where batsmen were slightly out of their crease or merely shifting their weight, dismissals were not enforced. They contend that gaining an advantage should be a determining factor in deciding whether a dismissal is fair or not.

Examples of Dismissals with Similar Intent

To further support their argument, England cited instances where dismissals were made despite the batsmen not actively trying to gain an advantage. They highlighted a case involving Samit Patel, where he was caught out due to lifting his foot slightly. The commentators admitted that while Patel was not trying to gain an advantage, it was a legal dismissal.

The Final Reason for England’s Displeasure

Another reason for England’s dissatisfaction with Bairstow’s dismissal is the timing. Bairstow was seen marking his crease at the end of the over, seemingly accepting that it was the end. However, the umpires have the final say in determining the end of an over, and Bairstow’s assumption did not hold. Nevertheless, the dismissal occurred because the ball was thrown before Bairstow had finished marking his crease.


The controversial dismissal of Johnny Bairstow during the Ashes series has sparked a fervent debate about the spirit of the game versus the letter of the law. While some argue that Bairstow’s dismissal was unfair and against the spirit of cricket, others maintain that it was a legitimate outcome within the rules. This incident has highlighted the need for a deeper understanding of the unwritten rules and fair play in cricket. As the cricketing world continues to discuss and analyze the incident, it remains to be seen how it will impact the future of the game and the players involved.