Unusual out in cricket

In cricket, there are eleven ways in which a batter’s innings can end of which five are common (bowled, caught, stumped, run out, and leg before wicket). Five others (hit wicket, hit the ball twice, handled the ball, timed out, obstructing the field) are much rarer and I have never seen such an out in all the matches that I have watched live. The eleventh is where the batter leaves the field voluntarily or due to injury or some other reason without getting out by one of the other ten ways and this is referred to as ‘retired’.

In yesterday’s one-day international game between Australia and England in England, one batter was given out for ‘obstructing the field’. This is where a batter is found guilty of preventing the fielders from getting him out. In this case, the batter (England’s Ben Stokes) hit the ball back to the bowler Mitchell Starc. Starc fielded the ball and seeing a chance to run out Stokes who had stepped outside the crease, threw the ball at the wicket. The ball struck Stokes’s’ hand as he fell trying to get back to safety and Starc appealed, that he had deliberately prevented the ball from hitting the wicket.

After the umpires reviewed the incident, they ruled that Stokes had indeed obstructed the field and gave him out, a decision that proved controversial to the spectators who booed the decision.

You can see the out here.


  1. raym says

    From the normal speed version, it looks accidental, but the slow-motion replay certainly seems to contradict that. Tricky. And definitely unusual!

    By the way, thank you, Mano, for a fascinating blog. You always manage to produce something interesting 🙂

  2. blf says

    Whatever site the OP linked considers it cricketly important that people it geolocates in France, and possibly other places, not be able to watch. Here is a video of the incident on YouTube.

  3. Holms says

    Add Australia and USA to places that that site dislikes. As for the video, I thought it a tad harsh to rule that it was intentional given the reaction window of less than a second; seemed reflex to me.

  4. fentex says

    Also New Zealand is excluded.

    Saw this on the news last night. He clearly meant to obstruct the ball and was justly given out.

  5. fentex says

    Also, below that Youtube video there are a lot of comments from people claiming if you watch it at normal speed he was just protecting himself and the slo-motion is misleading.

    Those with that opinion were never I suspect, good sports and do not credit players with sufficient ability. I have played cricket at a challenging grade (and against international representatives) and could see clearly his hand went to the ball -- he probably didn’t think clearly about protecting the stumps, but he certainly wasn’t protecting himself and meant to obstruct the throw.

  6. Rob says

    Handling the ball out -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMOUxEw4g-s
    I also vaguely recall, but can’t find any reference to, a batsman some years ago blocked the ball, which stopped right by him. As the bowler cam up he picked the ball up and passed it to him, resulting in an appeal. I can’t remember the outcome, but I think the debate was at what point did the ball become dead and play of that ball cease.

  7. File Thirteen says

    Whether or not he intended to obstruct the ball, the ball was obstructed. By him. I don’t understand why some are calling the dismissal controversial.

  8. fentex says

    Whether or not he intended to obstruct the ball, the ball was obstructed. By him. I don’t understand why some are calling the dismissal controversial.

    Because his intent matters. A batsman hit by a fielder with a throw that might have hit the stumps is not automatically out because the batsman may have had a perfect right to be in the way trying to make his ground. When you run, if you’re a smart batter, you purposefully would run a line between fielder and stumps (though it rarely matters outside of Indoor Cricket).

  9. atheistblog says

    This is the problem with the Slow motion. In the slow motion it looked like he deliberately trying to grab the ball and let it go, but in actual and real motion he is trying to defend himself from the ball, even though the ball was not coming toward his face, it’s natural instinct to deviate your body and stretch your arm to defend yourself.
    It should not have been given out, clearly not out.

  10. atheistblog says

    To discern about the batman’s action and his intention to obstruct the field, they should not have analyzed this at the slow motion in the first place. Very wrong.

  11. Rob says

    @10, see below from http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/45044/new-rules-to-take-effect-from-oct-1 (2011)

    Obstructing the field (Tests, ODIs and T20Is)
    A new playing condition has been introduced clarifying that on appeal from the fielding team, if the umpire feels that a batsman, whilst running between the wickets, has significantly changed his direction without probable cause thereby obstructing a fielder’s attempt to run him out, the batsman should be given out obstructing the field. It shall not be relevant whether a run out would have been affected or not.
    It should be noted that this playing condition enhances Law 37 and does not replace it.
    The circumstances described in the new playing condition (i.e. a batsman significantly changing his direction of running without probable cause) are only one example of an action which will qualify as willfully obstructing the field. Accordingly, it is still possible for a batsman to be given out obstructing the field in circumstances where he has not significantly changed his direction of running provided that the umpire feels that by some other actions it is clear that the batsman had intended to obstruct the field. This will depend on the circumstances of each case.
    In making a decision in this regard, the on-field umpires are entitled to consult the third umpire in deciding whether the obstruction was willful or not with the final decision being made and conveyed by the relevant on-field umpire.

     Incidentally, the scenario I refer to in my comment at 8 above falls under rule 37.4 as a form of obstruction, provided the ball is still regarded as in play.

  12. jockmcdock says

    Mano, a small correction. I don’t know about the conditions agreed to for this series, but “retired hurt” is not generally seen as being out. In theory, the batsman can resume his innings when a wicket falls.

    Only two batsmen have “retired out” at test level, the Sri Lankans Marvan Atapattu and Mahela Jayawardene, who scorred 201 and 150 runs respectively against Bangladesh in 2001.

    I thought Stokes was a bit unlucky. My initial thought was he was just trying to fend off the ball. It certainly looked worse on the slo-mo, but it always does. Even Starc didn’t look overly convinced. FWIW, I’m an Aussie.

  13. StevoR says

    @11. atheistblog : “It should not have been given out, clearly not out.”

    Clearly? I think its clearly unclear actually!

    Can see both sides of this argument because the slow mo and real time do look very different.

    As an Aussie, I’m glad we won although we probably would’ve done so whatever the outcome of this appeal and subsequent wicket. Enough else has already gone against us this tour so far that something boarderline going our way is , well, probably about time!

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