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HOWZAT HAPPENED

‘I’ve never seen anything like it’ – Watch England take freak wicket against New Zealand leaving bowler Leach stunned

HENRY NICHOLLS was dismissed with one of the most bizarre and freakiest wickets in cricket history against England.

The New Zealand batter comes out of the crease to drive Jack Leach's spinner towards the long-on boundary just before tea on Day 1 of the third Test.

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Henry Nicholls appeared to have played a perfect drive towards long-onCredit: Getty
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The left-hander's shot appeared certain to race away for fourCredit: Sky Sports
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The ball ricocheted off his partner Daryl Mitchell at the non-striker's endCredit: Sky Sports
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Umpire Richard Allan Kettleborough takes cover as the ball loops upCredit: Rex
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Alex Lees made not mistake with the bizarre but simple catchCredit: Sky Sports
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Jack Leach struggled to work out how the catch had been takenCredit: Reuters

But in a simply incredibly twist of events, he cannons the ball directly on to the bat of his team-mate Daryl Mitchell at the non-striker's end.

From there, the ball flies past the quick-thinking umpire and balloons perfectly into the grateful hands of Alex Lees who takes a simple catch at mid-off.

And by the letter of the law, specifically law 33.2.2.3, that is out.

The cricket rules read a catch will be fair if: "A fielder catches the ball after it has touched the wicket, an umpire, another fielder, a runner or the other batter."

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The England players and Headingley crowd at first could not work out what had happened - and even when it became apparent, were still left baffled.

Sky Sports expert Michael Atherton said: “I have never seen anything like that.

“Henry Nicholls was battling away, looking a bit out of sorts, 19 runs in almost 100 balls.

“And then he finally gets one out of the middle of the bat.

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“Daryl Mitchell at the non-striker's end, trying to protect himself and get his bat out of the way, hits it to Alex Lees.

“He couldn’t have done it any better if he’d tried. It’s like one-handed catching practice.

“It’s an unbelievable moment.”

Leach later said: “It was unbelievable. I didn’t even know if that was allowed, I’ve never seen anything like it. But I’ll take any wicket I can - you get enough that don’t go your way.

 “It’s a silly game, isn’t it?

 “It was very unlucky for Nicholls but very lucky for me. The ball came right out of the middle of Mitchell’s bat and Leesy wants me to mention that it was a good catch by him!

 “I like the fact I have two wickets on the board but, to be honest, I didn’t like the dismissal. It’s not something I’ll re-watch many times.”

And unsurprisingly the wicket had everyone talking on social media - just weeks after Mitchell and Leach's first bonkers incident of the series, which saw the ball splash into a pint of cider.

One joker wrote: "WICKET: LEACH 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 ASSIST: MITCHELL 🇳🇿 🤣🤣 You have to see this wicket to believe it 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂"

Another said: "The Black caps have had some issues with black cats where it comes to deflection luck…. Stokes in the WC19 was unbelievable, but this [is] almost worse."

New Zealand had been at 123-5 at tea, but an impressive, stubborn late stand from Daryl Mitchell - who is 78 not out off 159 balls - and Tom Blundell (45 from 108) means they finished the day on 225-5.

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Lees could not hide his pleasure at HeadingleyCredit: Getty
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Captain Ben Stokes was not complaining as the tourists fell to 123-5 at teaCredit: Sky Sports
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