Manufacturers of the World Cup’s controversial non-budging bails carried out extensive testing of their product in Australia on Tuesday following the glut of incidents over the past fortnight.
Zing, who provide the illuminating wicket system used across all major global events events, logged how their own bails fell compared to traditional wooden ones when the stumps were struck in different places by a ball.
The Adelaide-based company confirmed they are open to making alterations to the equipment they provide to make the flashing bails dislodge more freely if it is feasible. However, it is extremely unlikely that anything will be done before the World Cup final on July 14.
‘Zing is currently monitoring the situation, while reviewing all aspects and at the same time looking into whether there are some practical modifications that can be made in the future to make the bails come off easier,’ confirmed Zing director David Ligertwood.
‘Competing interests do need to be balanced in this context. For example, the game doesn’t want the bails coming off too easily (making it difficult for umpires to place them without holding up play and meaning the wind may blow them off too often). And, for example, they need to be robust enough not break.’
Although some minor alterations were made back in 2015, including ones to the shape and depth of the grooves on the stumps and the flexibility of some of the materials inside, the Zing system have not been modified since, and have been used at all International Cricket Council events, including the Champions Trophy here in 2017, as well as the Indian Premier League, Australia’s Big Bash and our own Vitality Blast tournament, in the interim.
The saturation of incidents at this event, however, has led to regular dialogue between the Zing hierarchy and the ICC, who insist they will not alter the playing conditions mid-tournament as it would damage the integrity of the competition.
Tuesday’s testing down under compared how traditional bails and Zing’s own reinforced plastic versions fell when the ball struck at points such as the base of the stumps, or when the outside of the stump was merely kissed.
Although Ligertwood says ‘this issue has always been part of the game, with the accepted concept being that it requires some force to disturb a batsman’s “castle”,’ Zing will nevertheless spend the next few days studying the results.
They admit being stumped by the recent spate of occurrences but suggest the early evidence is that the issue is not all about the weight of the bails (they are heavier than traditional ones at about 40g but lighter than heavy bails used in windy conditions), citing the hardness of the ground, the length of the stumps’ spikes and the housing of the stump camp as other significant factors in how they perform.
‘The Zing wicket system has operated in well over 1,000 games and this issue has not happened frequently,’ Ligertwood added.
‘This issue is obviously important as the game wants batsmen being dismissed when they should be. But even with this unusual spate of bails not falling it remains definitive and it remains the same for both sides.’
Incidents of wooden bails not dropping have also been reported this month, with England’s Tammy Beaumont’s stumps taking a fairly significant clunk but remaining intact in a women’s one-day international versus West Indies.