Obstructing the field
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Law 37 of the Laws of cricket provides that:
Either batsman is out Obstructing the field if he wilfully obstructs or distracts the opposing side by word or action. It shall be regarded as obstruction if either batsman wilfully, and without the consent of the fielding side, strikes the ball with his bat or person, other than a hand not holding the bat, after the ball has touched a fielder.
If the obstruction is accidental, then it is not wilful, and so the batsman cannot be given out Obstructing the field.
Paragraph 3 of the Law provides that:
The striker is out should wilful obstruction or distraction by either batsman prevent a catch being made.
This shall apply even though the striker causes the obstruction in lawfully guarding his wicket under the provisions of Law 34.3 (Ball lawfully struck more than once).
This predecessor of this part of Law 37 was in point for the only such dismissal in Test match cricket. Len Hutton, was playing for England against South Africa in 1951 at the Oval when the ball hit his bat handle and popped up. As the ball came down toward his stumps, he hit it away, obstructing the wicketkeeper Russell Endean from taking the catch. Coincidentally, Russell Endean was the first man given out handled the ball in a Test match.
Other provisions of Law 37
If either batsman is out 'obstructing the field', any runs completed before the offence, together with any penalty extras and the penalty for a No ball or Wide are still scored, except when the offence stopped a catch being caught when only penalties are still scored.
The bowler does not get credit for the wicket.
Earliest recorded instance
The first known instance of a player being dismissed in a manner equivalent to the modern term 'Obstructing the field' occurred in a minor match at Sheffield on 27 August 1792, between Sheffield Cricket Club and Bents Green. The Bents Green player John Shaw, who scored 7 in the first innings, had his dismissal recorded as "run out of the ground to hinder a catch". The information was recorded by G. B. Buckley who found it in the Sheffield Advertiser dated 31 August 1792. Sheffield won by 10 wickets in a match that was notable for two other reasons, these being that it was the first match played in Yorkshire for which full scores are recorded and it was the earliest known instance of a three innings match.
Mark Ramprakash was dismissed 'Obstructing the field' on 30 July 2011, in a County Championship Division 2 match between Surrey and Gloucestershire. Ramprakash was deemed to have deliberately tried to distract a fielder who was in the act of trying to run him out. He made no contact with the ball and it did not hit the stumps.
Mohammad Hafeez of Pakistan was dismissed 'Obstructing the field' on 21 March 2013 in the 4th ODI of the bilateral series match against South Africa. He became the first man to be given out obstructing the field after the new playing conditions were introduced.
Yusuf Pathan of India was dismissed 'Obstructing the field' on 15th May 2013 while playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders against the Pune Warriors India in Match 65 of the 2013 Indian Premier League for deliberately kicking the ball while rotating the strike. He became the first player to be dismissed in t20 cricket in this fashion.
Dismissals in international cricket
In One Day Internationals, Rameez Raja (for Pakistan against England at Karachi in 1987) was given out for hitting the ball away with his bat to avoid being run out going for his century off the last ball of the innings, and Mohinder Amarnath (for India against Sri Lanka at Ahmedabad in 1989) was given out for kicking the ball away to avoid being run out. Another batsman to be given out this way is Inzamam-ul-Haq of Pakistan in the first ODI of India vs Pakistan Hutch Cup on 6 February 2006. After Inzamam drove the ball to mid off, Indian Suresh Raina threw it back to the striker's end, Inzamam stopping it with his bat. Umpire Simon Taufel gave him out as he was in the line of the stumps and out of his crease (and thus would have been run out had the ball hit the stumps). The most recent incident is that of Mohammad Hafeez at Kingsmead, Durban against South Africa in 2013. After a confused attempt for a run, Hafeez obstructed the ball when the fielder threw it towards the wicket keeper. The South Africans appealed and Hafeez was given out by the third umpire.
The complete list of batsmen given out 'Obstructing the field' in One Day Internationals is:
|One Day International dismissals obstructed the field|
|1||Rameez Raja||Pakistan||England||Karachi, Pakistan||20 November 1987|
|2||Mohinder Amarnath||India||Sri Lanka||Ahmedabad, India||October 1989|
|3||Inzamam-ul-Haq||Pakistan||India||Peshawar, Pakistan||6 February 2006|
|4||Mohammad Hafeez||Pakistan||South Africa||Durban, South Africa||21 March 2013|
|5||Anwar Ali||Pakistan||South Africa||Port Elizabeth, South Africa||27 November 2013|
- Buckley, pp.27–28.
- BBC, BBC Sport, 30 July 2011, http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/14353907.stm, 31 July 2011
- Cricinfo, Match Scorecard, http://www.espncricinfo.com/icc-intercontinental-cup-2011-13/engine/match/516842.html
- Denmark v Nepal
- "Yusuf dismissal divides opinion". Wisden India. May 15, 2013.
- Buckley, G. B. (1937). Fresh Light on pre-Victorian Cricket. Cotterell.
- Wisden Cricketers' Almanack – various issues