James Anderson admitted England were left "slightly perplexed" by the dead-ball call against Steven Finn on the opening day of the second Test against South Africa.
Finn, recalled to the XI in place of spinner Graeme Swann, thought he'd dismissed Proteas skipper Graeme Smith when Andrew Strauss managed to hold on to an edge at first slip.
However the left-hander was given a repreive when umpire Steve Davis called a dead-ball after the bowler had broken the stumps in his delivery stride.
Smith had just six to his name at the time and went on to make 52, with the tourists reaching the close at Headingley on 262-5.
"It's a frustrating one for us, because he (Davis) didn't actually warn us he was going to do it," Anderson said.
"We were slightly perplexed by that.
"But the batsmen said it was distracting, and they had been in the umpire's ear - and he finally decided he was going to call dead-ball.
"Unfortunately, it was the ball that we managed to get Smith out.
"There is nothing in the rules that says the umpire can't do that."
Finn has made a habit of knocking the bails off as he tries to get in close to the stumps and South Africa's openers informed Davis that it was distracting them.
Anderson added: "It's strange that no batsmen have complained about it before - and he has done it hundreds of times, from what I can remember.
"If they thought it was distracting and they told the umpire, then fair enough.
"Finny was told to be careful, because it was distracting the batsmen...at no stage was he told it would be called dead-ball."
While England did eventually get rid of Smith, caught at backward short leg off the bowling of Tim Bresnan, they found no way to remove his opening partner.
Alviro Petersen made amends for his duck in South Africa's huge victory at the Oval with an unbeaten 124, though the Proteas' day was somewhat spoilt by the loss of two late wickets.
"We created chances all day, could have got a few with the new ball - and they played and missed a lot," said Anderson, who had seen Petersen dropped at second slip by Alastair Cook when he had just 29.
"We're pretty pleased with the way things went, how we fought all day, and that new-ball burst from the two big lads could have swung it back our way.
"We didn't really get frustrated all day, and knew the wickets would come."