By Vincent Sunder
The umpires again kept their date with an on-field incident in the Commonwealth Bank (CB) Series, this time around in the India versus Australia game at Sydney on Sunday.
The last delivery of the 24th over from Ravichandran Ashwin had David Hussey sprinting for a sharp run to the strikers end as Suresh Raina fired in a throw from short cover to wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. David Hussey, noticing the throw coming his way, extended his arm to palm the ball away. Dhoni appealed instantly. The referral to the third umpire was made by Simon Taufel, and as he and Billy (you cannot keep him out) Bowden conferred the final decision came in favour of the batsman.
Another lovely aspect of this series is that it has made one refer and read the laws very frequently as well.
Here is what the law says on a player obstructing the field.
Law 37 – Obstructing The Field
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.
If the change of direction involves the batsman crossing the pitch, Law 42.14 shall also apply.
Application of the above law would read that Hussey deserved the not out decision since he had not “significantly changed his direction without probably cause”, though Mark Taylor, the former Australian captain, felt that the batsman should have been given out while on Channel Nine TV commentary
Was this incident, then, a qualifier for the ‘handled the ball’ rule since clearly Hussey stopped the ball with his hand?
Here is what the law says.
Law 33 - Handling The Ball Clause 1 (a) Either batsman is out Handled the ball if he willfully touches the ball while in play with a hand or hands not holding the bat unless he does so with the consent of the fielder.
Well, if that reading makes a case in favor of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s appeal, the next clause puts paid to it.
Clause 2. Not out Handled the ball. Notwithstanding 1 (a) above, a batsman will not be out under this Law if he handles the ball to avoid injury
In this instance it is unclear which law was reviewed and applied by the umpires. Unlike the Mankaded decision when the umpires got it horribly wrong, in this incident the umpires appear to have got the decision spot on.
(Vincent Sunder aspired to play Test cricket, but had to struggle to play .gully. cricket! He managed a league side to title triumph in the KSCA tournaments. He was debarred from umpiring in the gully games after he once appealed vociferously for a caught-behind decision when officiating as an umpire! After two decades in the corporate sector, he became an entrepreneur with the objective of being able to see cricket matches on working days as well. Vincent gets his .high. from cricket books and cricket videos and discussing cricket)