Obstructing the field decision polarises cricket

The first player in the BBL’s history given out for obstructing the field is adamant he was merely trying to avoid being hit by the return throw rather than block its progress as he attempted to complete a second run against the Hobart Hurricanes on Wednesday night.

But Brisbane Heat batsman Alex Ross was left with no choice but to walk when the umpires gave him out after reviewing the incident midway through the 17th over of the match.

The hard-hitting Ross was on 27 off 19 balls at the time but had to sit on the sidelines as the Heat rattled home, scoring 34 runs in the final three overs to fall just four runs short of victory.

Ross gave his perspective on Twitter: “I can unequivocally say I was trying to run away from the line of the ball to avoid being hit, as I felt I was going to make my ground.”

The controversial decision led to respective captains, Heat’s Brendon McCullum and George Bailey of the Hurricanes, having an animated discussion after the game.

McCullum made it clear that while he thought the Hurricanes deserved the win he thought the Ross decision was wrong.

Bailey told Channel 10 the Hurricanes’ initial appeal was made in relation to whether Ross was out of his ground but after seeing the vision they then enquired as to whether the batsman had obstructed the field as he changed direction when running down the wicket.

The umpires determined he had, in fact, obstructed the field, deciding Ross’s action was not accidental nor taken to avoid injury.

Cricket Australia said the decision was “justified” although they conceded it was a difficult rule to adjudicate as it required umpires to determine the intent of the player.

“The dismissal last night of Alex Ross from Brisbane Heat saw the batsman change direction, turn to watch the direction of the throw, and run on the pitch,” a Cricket Australia spokesperson said.

“The third umpire concluded that the change of running direction of the batsman, after seeing the direction of the throw, obstructed the wicketkeeper’s opportunity to affect the run out.”

Umpires are instructed to take into account whether a player changes direction as a guide for measuring intent.

The mode of dismissal is extremely unusual with only eight players ever given out in international cricket for obstructing the field.

The only time it has happened in a game involving Australia was in 2015 when England all-rounder Ben Stokes threw out his hand and deflected a Mitch Starc attempt to throw down the stumps.

Coincidentally the Australian wicketkeeper in that game was Matthew Wade, who was also keeping for the Hurricanes.

The Sydney Sixers English import Jason Roy is one of the eight players to have been dismissed for obstructing the field in international cricket after being given out for 67 against South Africa last year.

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