Leeds: England fast bowler Steven Finn fell foul of a seldom used law of cricket when umpire Steve Davis called dead ball to a delivery which South African captain Graeme Smith edged to slip on the first day of the second Test at Headingley on Thursday.
Davis' call came when for the fourth time in the morning Finn's right knee clattered into the stumps at the bowler's end, which the South African batsmen claimed was a distraction.
Finn's team-mate, fellow fast bowler James Anderson, claimed there had been no warning before Davis intervened. "It was a frustrating one for us because he didn't actually warn us he was going to do it," said Anderson.
"We were slightly perplexed by that but I think the batsmen were saying it was distracting so they had been in the umpire's ear and he finally decided he was going to call dead ball. Unfortunately it was the ball we managed to catch Smith out."
Smith had six at the time and went on to make 52 in an opening stand of 120 with Alviro Petersen as South Africa scored 262 for 5 by close of play.
Davis was backed by the MCC, the custodians of the game's laws, who said in a statement that a section of law 24.3 made provision for an umpire to call dead ball if a noise either on or off the field was judged to be a distraction to a batsman.
According to the statement, the batsmen had complained and Finn had been warned. "That's not Finny's take on it?" said Anderson. "He was told to be careful but he was not told he would called dead ball."
South African vice-captain AB de Villiers said he understood that the batsmen had spoken to Davis and that the umpire had given Finn a warning. "Unfortunately there was a wicket on the first one he called which makes it a bit interesting, but he stuck to his guns and he handled it really well. He made that call and he stuck to it right throughout the day."
There were four further calls of dead ball, two of which on deliveries which Smith hit to the boundary only to be denied runs.