England had survived a major scare in their World Cup preparations as they scraped home by four wickets against Ireland in the one-off ODI at Dublin. Liam Plunkett and Tom Curran combined to bowl Ireland out for 198 in a game reduced to 45 overs due to rain and a wet outfield but England stumbled to 102/6. It needed debutant Ben Foakes’ gritty, unbeaten fifty and Curran’s knock to help England scrape over the line by four wickets. However, Foakes was in the middle of the controversy during the Ireland innings when Andrew Balbirnie was batting. Joe Denly was the bowler in operation and it was then the moment of controversy erupted.
On 29, Balbirnie looked to sweep Denly but missed it. Foakes gathered a wide delivery down the leg side but, rather than whip the bails off immediately, he waited for Balbirnie to raise his back foot slightly -- thereby making the batsman out of his ground -- before breaking the stumps. Third umpire Aleem Dar gave Balbirnie out after studying television replays. This resulted in massive controversy, with Ireland skipper William Porterfield convinced the appeal should have been dismissed as the delay meant the ball was "pretty much dead".
If the @ICC wishes to maintain its "Spirit of Cricket" as part of the modern game, then the Ben Foakes 'stumping' in Malahide today should not be endorsed as "within the Spirit of the Game." #IREvENG @ECB_cricket— Alan Wilkins (@alanwilkins22) May 3, 2019
“How long do you wait? We'll be playing 15-hour games if you wait that long. You can say it was great wicketkeeping or you can say it's a bit of a grey area of how long he takes. The ball was pretty much dead. The batsman wasn't going anywhere or overbalanced. It wasn't like he had fallen over. The keeper has waited for three or four seconds if we do that all day it's going be a pretty long game,” Porterfield argued.
In his defence, Foakes said he did according to the rules. “It was quite wide down the leg, but I got it back to the stumps. When it's a sweep you think they might fall over and I just saw he lifted his foot and nicked them off,” Foakes said.
The stumping provoked plenty of debate, with former county bowler turned international broadcaster Alan Wilkins urging the International Cricket Council to take action. But there are many who feel the uncertainty surrounding what the 'Spirit of Cricket' means, as opposed to the precise nature of the sport's rulebook or Laws, makes the concept more trouble than it's worth.