Watch: Ben Stokes dropped Steve Smith at leg gully off Moeen Ali’s bowling in the last over before Lunch on Day Five of the fifth Ashes Test, just as he was about to throw the ball in the air to celebrate taking the catch.

You can bet on the 2023 Ashes with our Match Centre partners, bet365.

Australia started the final day of the 2023 Ashes at the Kia Oval on 135-0, needing another 249 runs to complete a 3-1 series victory. However, their top order was wrecked by Chris Woakes and Mark Wood early in the morning. Woakes got rid of both openers David Warner and Usman Khawaja, and Wood accounted for Marnus Labuschagne, getting him to edge one behind to second slip.

From 140-0, Australia slipped to 169-3. However, Steve Smith and Travis Head joined-up for the fourth wicket and counter-attacked. They punished anything even slightly loose to get the scoreboard ticking over again. In the 17 overs they faced before Lunch, they added 69 unbeaten runs to take Australia to 238-3 at the end of the morning session.

England came extremely close to breaking the partnership in the last over before the break, when Moeen got Smith to glove one to leg gully where Stokes had stationed himself. He leapt full stretch in the air to grab the ball with his right hand, swinging it back behind him. As he continued the movement to throw the ball up in the air, the ball popped out of his hand in a similar manner to the famous Herschelle Gibbs dropped-catch of Steve Waugh in the 1999 World Cup.

According to the Law 33.3: “The act of making a catch shall start from the time when the ball first comes into contact with a fielder’s person and shall end when a fielder obtains complete control over both the ball and his own movement.”

[breakout id=”0″][/breakout]

In this case, Stokes did not have complete control over his movement as his motion from the catch was not complete by the time the ball popped out of his hand. As a result, despite the England captain reviewing the decision, the not-out verdict was upheld.

There have been a couple of similar controversial catches in this English summer that have brought law 33.3 into focus. Cameron Green’s catch of Shubman Gill in the 2023 WTC Final was controversial at the time, as was Mitchell Starc’s catch of Ben Duckett in the second Test of the Ashes series at Lord’s.

England also lost their review in the process, something that Stokes and his teammates were seen arguing about with the umpires after Lunch was called.

Watch Stokes drop Steve Smith just as he is about to throw the ball to celebrate: