The ICC’s playing conditions for World Cups stipulate that the new batter must be ready to face the bowler within two minutes of the fall of the previous wicket. Within those two minutes, the batter needs to be ready to face the ball and not just have taken guard. As per protocol the TV umpire starts the clock immediately at the fall of the previous wicket.
Mathews entered to bat on Monday evening a minute and 10 seconds after Samarawickrama’s was caught. He walked to the crease and met the non-striker Charith Asalanka near the batting crease, exchanging a quick word and a glove bump, after being told he had 30 seconds left by Illingworth.
Approximately one minute and 55 seconds had lapsed since the dismissal and Mathews had not yet taken guard. As he was adjusting his chin strap, it came off in his hand.
By the time Mathews got a fresh helmet, it was nearly two-and-a-half minutes since the wicket had fallen. At this point, Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan, who happened to be bowling at the time, prompted by an unnamed teammate, appealed to Erasmus. As per protocol, Erasmus ruled Mathews out, albeit having checked with Shakib if he wanted to go ahead with the appeal.
Mathews pleaded and argued he could not be ready to face Shakib because of the helmet malfunction. And post-match he expanded on it by arguing that it was a safety issue, that he couldn’t have faced up without a new helmet.
Both Erasmus and Illingworth were informed by Nitin Menon, the TV umpire, when the two minutes had lapsed. As per protocol, on-field umpires only note that the time has passed without enforcing the timed-out rule unless the fielding captain appeals. The umpires do not tell the fielding team how much time has elapsed.
Mathews has suggested that what happens after the strap comes off, which occurs shortly before the two minutes elapses, should be treated as a separate equipment malfunction delay, and not as part of the time he required to ready himself to receive the ball, vis-a-vis a timed out dismissal.