I HAVE been covering cricket since the year 2000 and following it avidly since 1983, but I cannot remember having previously seen an umpire change his mind after giving a batsman out in a County Championship match.
But that was what happened during the Roses game at Headingley last week when umpire Peter Willey adjudged Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale caught behind down the leg-side off the bowling of Lancashire captain Glen Chapple.
Gale, who had 25 runs to his name at the time and went on to score 95 not out, indicated his displeasure at the initial decision by pointedly tapping his leg on several occasions to suggest that he had not touched the ball.
He had walked a good 10 yards past Willey on his way back to the pavilion when the umpire dramatically called him back after consulting with square-leg official Ian Gould.
Lancashire, to their credit, did not protest because they knew that Gale had not hit the ball.
As Chapple said afterwards: “I know he didn’t hit it so that’s why my appeal was stifled. You appeal for those because it’s very close to the bat and then you stifle it because you realise he’s not hit it.
“The lads behind the wicket never really know whether he’s hit it or not but I just knew he hadn’t hit it.
“The umpire sticks his finger up and you don’t say in this day and age, ‘Oh, that’s not out’.”
Of course, Chapple was only doing what anyone would do “in this day and age”.
Why, Yorkshire would doubtless have done the same.
But as gamesmanship is now part of the game, I see no reason why Gale – incorrectly given out against a bowler who knew he was not out – should be penalised for dissent by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
However, he could well receive three points on his licence once the England and Wales Cricket Board’s disciplinary panel have considered the umpires’ report.
Under the ECB’s disciplinary code, the accumulation of nine or more penalty points in a two-year period results in automatic suspension.
Gale, who received a reprimand but no points in June, 2012 for dissent during a T20 game against Durham, a match Willey also umpired, can expect to receive some sort of censure.
However, I feel it would reflect well on the governing body if they showed leniency in this case.
After all, it was a most unusual case.
Most displays of dissent are not followed by an umpire openly admitting he has got it wrong, while Gale was swift to apologise to Willey.
Indeed, the captain was candid when he spoke to the media at close of play. “I’ve apologised to Pete and I should have walked off really because that’s the way you should behave in cricket,” said Gale.
“Pete admits it was a terrible decision and that he got it wrong, and I thought that was brilliant from him because it takes a brave man to do that.
“As I was walking past him on the field I said, ‘Pete, I’ve got a mark on my trousers here’ – I had a big red mark on my trousers where the ball hit me – and ‘you’ve got that one wrong, mate,’ in a roundabout way.
“He said, ‘Look, all right, come back’, and I was a bit shocked, to be honest.”
In the final analysis, Willey was in the wrong, Gale was in the wrong and, some might say, Chapple and Lancashire were in the wrong.
So let’s just all forget about it and move on.