Law 37 deals with ‘obstructing the field’, for which a batsman can be adjudicated out, if he is found willfully obstructing the ball from hitting the stumps. At times it gets tricky as well. In this article we will purely focus on the the instances from history of cricket when the batsman was out ‘obstructing the field. But this form of getting dismissed is rarest of rare as they would put it. Yet, there have been times a batsman has got out committing this crime.
Here are the list of cricketers who have unwillingly made the list:
Ben Stokes: Obstructing the field even got arguably the most dangerous hitter in modern times. Stokes was also guilty of being dismissed obstructing the field.
It happened during the second One-Day International between hosts England and Australia and the match got engulfed in controversies after Ben Stokes was given out.
It seemed the then 24-year old was trying to protect himself more than anything else, Stokes hit Starc straight back, a ferocious Starc threw the ball back at Stokes, who in order to save himself stuck his hand out, the ball got his hand and there was an appeal. Stokes was on the ground trying to make his ground.
The Australian team, however, decided to appeal suggesting that Stokes was out of the crease and had intentionally struck out his hand. On-field umpires Kumar Dharmasena and Tim Robinson decided to hand over the final call to the third umpire, Joe Wilson, who ruled in the favour of the reigning world champions, much to the displeasure of the Lord’s crowd who responded with loud boos.
Captain Eoin Morgan was seen having a long discussion on the rules of the game with the umpire even after Stokes was gone.
Anwar Ali: During a match against South Africa in November 2013, he became the fifth player in the history to be given out obstructing the field. He also happens to be the fourth from his country to commit this crime.
Ali, while trying to sneak a quick bye run, purposely came in the way of the throw from wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock while running on the pitch, and was declared out. The decision was made in consultation with the third umpire. By the look of it, it was evident that it was intentional.
Mohammad Hafeez: He too committed that same mistake in the same series versus the Proteas in 2013. In fact, he was out for a duck. Pakistan were batting needing 234 to win. Tsotsobe was the bowler, he bowled the ball on Imran Farhat’s legs, he flicked it leg side for a single, but he mid way decided there was a couple. He ran, the throw was to the wicketkeepers end. The wicketkeeper saw an opportunity in the bowlers end where Hafeez was running. De Kock threw the ball, but Hafeez who would have been well-short of his ground came in the way of the throw.
There was an appeal, after a lot of dilly-dally Hafeez was given out.
Inzamam-ul-Haq: The bulky looking Pakistani batsman always found running a very tough ask and was runout on many occasions but the one we will talk about is a very funny incident that occurred against India. In a closely contested encounter between India and Pakistan in Peshawar in 2006, Inzamam-ul-Haq fell sour of the rules after being dismissed with Pakistan requiring 40 from 41 balls. He then was playing an important hand for them in helping them steer to victory.
Suresh Raina had aimed a throw at the stumps, and Inzamam had blocked the throw with his bat. Umpires Asad Rauf and Simon Taufel consulted each other and Taufel ruled Inzamam out, after the Indians went up in appeal.
It is true that Inzy was out of his crease and never tried deliberately to come in the way of the throw. But Suresh Raina who was aiming for the stumps found Inzy in the way, who could only put his bat out so that the ball does not hit him.
Inzamam had said later, “In my role as the Pakistan captain, I would say that the appeal from the Indian fielders was against the spirit of cricket. Certainly, there are several modes in which a batsman can be declared out, but many of them are not in the spirit of the game. I am particularly referring to obstructing the field, handling the ball and hit-the-ball twice dismissals; also about the illegal practice of underarm bowling and running out a batsman while backing up.”
Mohinder Amarnath: During the 1989 Nehru Cup while playing Sri Lanka, Amarnath kicked the ball away from the bowler to avoid being run out. He was trying to make his way back to the crease after his call for a single was turned down and he was sent back by his partner Navjot Sidhu. Amarnath happens to be the only batsman who has been out ‘handling the ball’ in 1986 and ‘obstructing the field’ in 1989.
Ramiz Raja: The Pakistan top-order batsman was the first cricketer to be given out for obstructing the field. It was in 1987 during a Pakistan vs Australia match. Raja was batting on 98, and that moment arrived on the last ball of the match, with 23 runs still to get for Pakistan. He was looking to get to his century by picking a couple, he knew there was no way he was going to make it so he stopped the throw with his bat. The umpire gave him out for obstructing the field.