Is this the worst cricket drop ever?
How many times have you been watching a game and said “Even I could have made that play”? Ninety-nine times out of a hundred it’s an exaggeration, the lone exception being the case of Joe Denly’s unfathomable blunder in the England-New Zealand Test cricket match.
New Zealand’s Kane Williamson was batting against English bowler Jofra Archer. Archer did something (I don’t know what, it’s cricket) to fool Williamson and all he could do was tap a soft liner directly to Denly.
Denly didn’t even have to move his feet. He was standing only about 60 feet away. The ball hit him right in the hands. Archer started running away in celebration. And Denly dropped it.
Sure, catching a ball without a glove can be tricky, but Archer’s reaction tells you all you need to know about how easy that play was.
Outs aren’t as easy to come by in cricket as they are in baseball. The batter gets to keep hitting until he’s been retired, often racking up more than 100 runs during his turn. Williamson had scored 62 runs when Denly dropped that sure out. He went on to score another 42 runs.
It’s a mortifying error made even worse by the fact that it occurred in a major international match. This is supposed to be the highest level of cricket in the world and Denly botched a play any recreational player would have made without a second thought. A couple of commentators said you’d even expect a child to make the catch with ease.
ESPN CricInfo’s Andrew Miller wrote that it was a chance “an Under-8s fielder would have been embarrassed to let through his fingers.”
“It was the type of chance you'd be horrified to see go down while watching an under-eights game,” Ian Anderson wrote for the New Zealand website Stuff.
BBC analyst Jonathan Agnew, himself a former cricketer, called it “possibly the worst drop in Test history.”
“Even if you took your 95-year-old grandma out in the garden now, in the dark, and threw her a tennis ball from five yards, she'd catch that,” Agnew said.
The only possible rival to Denly’s goof is this drop by England’s Mike Gatting against India in 1993.
At least Gatting had the excuse of looking up into the sun. What’s Denly’s excuse?
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