In an unusual turn of events at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi, Sri Lanka all-rounder Angelo Mathews became the first player in international cricket to be timed out during their fixture against Bangladesh at the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 on Monday.

The mode of dismissal, though rare, is legal according to the rules of the game.

What happened?

Mathews came out to bat at No 6 in the 25th over after Shakib Al Hasan dismissed Sadeera Samarawickrama.

Before taking guard, Mathews went to adjust his helmet which is when its strap broke. The 35-year-old asked for a new helmet without consulting Bangladesh skipper Al Hasan or the umpires. While Mathews waited for a replacement, Al Hasan appealed for Mathews to be given out and the umpires accepted. There was little the umpires could do once Al Hasan opted to uphold his appeal.

After being given out, Mathews tried to reason with Al Hasan explaining that he was simply waiting for a new helmet but the Bangladesh captain did not budge.

What do the rules say?

According to the ICC Cricket World Cup playing conditions, Rule 40.1.1 states: “After the fall of a wicket or the retirement of a batter, the incoming batter must, unless Time has been called, be ready to receive the ball or for the other batter to be ready to receive the next ball within [two] minutes of the dismissal or retirement.”

While MCC laws state the time is three minutes, the World Cup is following a two-minute time-frame. Additionally, the rule clarifies that in the case of a dismissal effected by a time out, the bowler does not get credit for the wicket.

“The TV umpire monitors to two minutes, he will then relay the message to the on-field umpires,” explained fourth umpire Adrian Holdstock in an interview uploaded on the ICC’s social media handle. “In the instance of this afternoon, the batter wasn’t ready to receive the ball within those two minutes, even before the strap became an issue for him.

“As a [batter] you need to make sure you have all your equipment in place before you get [to the crease] because you have to be ready to receive the ball within two minutes. Not be ready to prepare, or take your guard.”

Mathews was seen deep in conversation with Bangladesh and the umpires, but with Al Hasan standing firm, the appeal was not withdrawn, and Mathews was forced to walk back in disappointment.

Following the appeal, Mathews was sent back to the pavilion after taking more than two minutes to face his first ball. It was the first time in men’s or women’s international cricket that a batter was dismissed under the “timed out” rule.

As and when ‘unusual’ dismissals like this or a run-out at the non-striker’s end happen in cricket, it brings out mixed reactions. And expectedly, there were reactions aplenty for the Mathews’ dismissal. While some applauded Al Hasan’s presence of mind and encouraged the legality behind the dismissal, others termed it as being against spirit of cricket.

Also read: ‘Eye opener for all batters’ – Reactions as Angelo Mathews is ‘timed out’

Have there been previous instances of batters being timed out?

Mathews is the first batter in international cricket to be timed out. According to ESPN Cricinfo’s records, there have been four instances of batters being dismissed timed out in domestic cricket.

The closest an international batter came to being dismissed timed out happened in the third Test of India’s tour of South Africa in 2006-07.

During India’s second innings, Sachin Tendulkar, who was supposed to bat an No 4, was not allowed to step out to bat by the fourth umpire as he had to spend extra time in the dressing room on account of being substituted the previous day while India were fielding.

Sourav Ganguly was not ready to bat and there was a delay of over five minutes. ESPN Cricinfo reported that umpire Daryl Harper informed Proteas captain Graeme Smith of the circumstances and asked him not to appeal for a time out dismissal.