new rule of cricket Obstructing the Field rule of cricket : India versus Australia, the 10th ODI of CB series being played on the bright Sunday Morning at beautiful Sydney. And there comes the 6th ball of 23rd over. The situation is- Wade plays ball to short covers and calls for a single run. David Hussey responds and takes off to the other end. Meanwhile- the lightning in field, Suresh Raina, picks up the ball single handed and throws to the end of wicket-keeper where David Hussey is running. While throw is in the air- travelling towards Dhoni, Hussey, who meanwhile reaches between the line of throw to the stumps, and stops it with his right hand- and completes the run. No sooner did Dhoni see Hussey stopping the ball, than he appealed to the square leg umpire with reference to the “Obstructing the Field” law of Cricket.
The umpires on field, very experienced, Simon Toufel and Billy Bowden went up stares for the Decision Review System and called 3rd umpire to make the final decision. Indian camp was together- making a huddle- almost pretty sure of decision. But after watching several camera angles and almost 3 to 4 minutes of reviews, the 3rd umpire- S.D. Fry came with decision that Hussey is Not Out! There was huge uproar from the Indian supporters in the ground and also a few words exchanged between Hussey and his best mates in Indian team 😉 . So, it was definite that Hussy had stopped ball using his hand, and still was not given out. What does the law say?
Law 37 – Obstructing the Field
Law 37 shall apply.
For the avoidance of doubt, if an umpire feels that a batsman, in running between the wickets, has significantly changed his direction without probable cause and thereby obstructed a fielder’s attempt to effect a run out, the batsman should, on appeal, be given out, obstructing the field. It shall not be relevant whether a run out would have occurred or not.
a) Following an appeal from the fielding side, the on-field umpire shall be entitled to consult with the third umpire if he feels that the batsman, in running between the wickets, may have significantly changed his direction.
b) Such consultation shall be initiated by the on-field umpire and will be done to help him decide the extent of any change in direction and whether the obstruction was willful or not.
c) Following such consultation with the third umpire, the final decision shall be indicated in the normal fashion by the relevant on-field umpire.
[Reference: ICC’s Standard ONE-day international match playing conditions]
The important factors of this law and underlined. In today’s case, why Hussey was declared not out can be:
- Indian team appealed, so the umpires needed to make decision
- Hussey did not change his direction significantly
- There was a probable cause that ball might have hit him, had it not been stopped
- Hence, umpire thought that change of direction/ obstruction was NOT willful.
- And India’s appeal turned down- Hussey survives!
In the end, I guess fair decision was made. But batmen, in general, need to be careful while stopping the ball. Remember Inzamam- Ul- Haq (click here to view- fielder Raina, Umpire Simon Toufel- quite same characters!) was ruled out when he stopped the ball using his bat versus India in Pakistan in 2006! Because, the factors like ‘significant change in direction’, ‘willful or no’ are very hard to figure out and are relative terms from the person to person. So, who knows on the other day, other ground, Hussey might have declared Out!