England were “perplexed and frustrated” to hear umpire Steve Davis call a dead-ball against Steven Finn, with the very delivery he had South Africa captain Graeme Smith caught at slip.
After Smith’s reprieve on six, and an earlier drop at slip which gave centurion Alviro Petersen a let-off on 29, it seemed nothing would go right for the hosts early on day one of the second Investec Test at Headingley.
But after they had battled back to leave South Africa 262 for five, England were able to keep a sense of perspective about the morning’s controversial events.
Davis intervened after the South Africa openers complained to him that Finn’s strange habit of knocking off the bails at the non-striker’s end, in his delivery stride, was distracting them.
When Finn did it for a fourth time, in only his second over, the Australian umpire decided it was time to act.
By coincidence, that same ball resulted in an edge to slip by Smith - and neat catch by his opposite number Andrew Strauss.
England thought momentarily they had a precious breakthrough, as they seek a way back into the series after their crushing innings defeat at The Oval last week.
It was not to be. But even after MCC, the guardians of the Laws of Cricket, had seen fit to issue a statement explaining they intend to review umpire guidance on such issues, England made it clear they will not be grumbling about what happened.
Fast bowler James Anderson said nonetheless: “It’s a frustrating one for us, because he [Davis] didn’t actually warn us he was going to do it. We were slightly perplexed by that.
“But the batsmen said it was distracting, and they had been in the umpire’s ear - and he finally decided he was going to call dead-ball.”
Stephen Peters struck a half-century as Northnts edged themselves towards Yorkshire’s first-innings total on a rain-affected second day in Championship Division Two. Peters was unbeaten on 74 off 158 balls with Northants on 175 for three before the weather brought about an early finish. Azeem Rafiq, Richard Pyrah and Adil Rashid taking the three wickets.