September 3, 1996 – An ODI game was delayed due to missing bails

September 3, 1996 – An ODI game was delayed due to missing bails

The start of an ODI was a delayed as the four bails to be used went missing mysteriously.

Umpire returns the bail. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

There are numerous resons due to which the start of a cricket match can be delayed; rain, wet outfield, bad light and even sunlight shining in the eyes of players. But in a rare occurrence, the start of an ODI was delayed as the four bails to be used went missing mysteriously. This incident was recorded during the Singer World Series tournament involving the hosts Sri Lanka and the three visiting teams: Australia, India and Zimbabwe.

Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe teams faced off in an inconsequential 5th match of the tournament which was played in the round-robin format before the final. Zimbabwe lost to Australia and India while Sri Lanka defeated them to seal their place in the final. Australia and India would face off in the 6th game for the other slot in the final. Zimbabwe, who were despaired of opening their account, lost the toss and were put into bat by the home team.

No bails, no cricket:

The day fixture was hosted at Colombo’s Sinhalese Sports Club Ground on September 3rd. The on-field umpires for the game, Steve Bucknor and Cyril Mitchley made their way to find the bails missing. They began to search for it which was the only way the game would start. The local 3rd umpire Cyril Cooray also tried to find the bails while the match referee John Reid was scanning the rulebook to get going without having to find the missing bails.

As the clock ticked past the start time and there were no signs of play starting anytime soon, the players began to do stretches and performed the warm-up routine. In the meantime, the crowd was getting restless with the delay. Finally, eight minutes after the scheduled start of the play, the game got underway after the bails were recovered.

It turned out that one of the grounds-men put those bails in his pocket and forgot about it causing a lot of inconvenience to players, officials and also to the spectators.

Aravinda De Silva of Sri Lanka in 1996. (Mandatory Credit: Ross Kinnaird/Allsport)

An interesting start:

The long wait seemed to have made an effect on the Sri Lankan pacer Pramodya Wickramasinghe who bowled as many as five wide deliveries in the first over of the match. Wickramasinghe was marking his run-up while the search for the bails was on and it seemed like he had lost concentration. Zimbabwe posted 227/5 in their 50 overs as the No.6 batsman Craig Evans scored an unbeaten 95 off 105 balls with six fours and three sixes.

Sri Lankan openers departed with just 25 runs on the board but Aravinda de Silva’s unbeaten 123-ball 127 that included 14 boundaries took the home team past the winning line with three overs and six wickets to spare. Australia won the final league game by three wickets against India to face the Lankans in the final. The hosts lifted the trophy with a 50-run win over the Men in Yellow in the summit clash.

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