Stokes vs Lyon, Headingley final day drama: Fourth umpire Tim Robinson recalls thrilling finish

Fourth umpire Tim Robinson recalls the peaks and troughs of the Headingley Test, weighing in on the challenges of officiating a high-octane clash.

England's Ben Stokes (right) with Jack Leach celebrate victory at the Headingley.   -  AP

The 2019 Ashes was marred by a slew of erroneous umpiring decisions, none more so than the opening match at Edgbaston where as many as 15 wrong calls - some more obvious than others - left the umpires, especially Joel Wilson, red faced.

So, with England 0-1 down, and the series on a knife-edge, umpiring and technology were in focus in the lead up to the all-important third Test at Headingley. The match in Leeds eventually entered the annals of cricket for Ben Stokes' 135 not out that earned England a heart-stopping one-wicket win.

In an interview with Sportstar, fourth umpire Tim Robinson recalls the peaks and troughs of that match, weighing in on the challenges of officiating a high-octane clash.

Everyone makes mistakes, but there were probably one too many by the umpires in the last Ashes. Given how the momentum swung in that Headingley game, was there added pressure on on-field umpires Joel Wilson and Chris Gaffaney?

I think every England vs Australia fixture has that extra amount of pressure for both players and officials due to the history of the fixture and that pressure increases, as in this case, when the series reaches a climax.

READ: Was tough to review Stokes-Leach partnership very next day: Aussie Marcus Harris

It was a memorable Test for many reasons, but what’s your one favourite memory and why?

One moment would be the reverse sweep by (Ben) Stokes that went for six towards the end of his innings. To have the skill and confidence to play such a shot in that situation was truly amazing and pretty unforgettable.

Is there any particular anecdote, either during the match or after it, that you would like to share?

At Headingley, the fourth umpire sits with the groundsmen. The head groundsman is Andy Fogarty, a quiet, unassuming man who shows little emotion. But as England got closer to their target in such dramatic style, he was on his feet cheering every shot, and when victory came, his celebrations were something I’ll never forget!

READ: Ben Stokes, don of the new era

England still needed two runs for victory when Nathan Lyon beat Stokes on the sweep and appealed fervently for lbw, only to have Wilson rule it not out. The ball-tracking showed the delivery to be hitting the stumps squarely enough to overturn the not-out decision. Do you recall the drama surrounding this moment?

Such decisions have been part of cricket since its inception. Some go your way and others go against you. What it does prove is the use of player reviews is a skill which has to be worked on. There was a number of very wasteful reviews throughout the series with both teams coming to regret them as Australia did in this instance.

What was the best batsman-bowler duel that you witnessed during this Test?

Lyon vs Stokes as the game was set up for the spinner to come more into the game. The game situation meant Stokes had to restrain his natural aggressive instinct to some extent and the above incident coupled with the Lyon fumble of the run-out chance towards the end just intensified the duel.

There was a lot of talk surrounding the umpiring in the lead-up to that test. How do umpires deal with this pressure?

Preparation is very much down to the individual umpire and should be consistent like every other game... Certainly, you don’t want to do anything that could increase the pressure. Come the first ball, you want to be fit, knowledgeable, focused and confident. This is done through gym work, revisiting the regulations and laws of the game, standing in the practice nets when the players are practising, and speaking with your colleagues and coaches.

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