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Series Editorial

Rilee Rossouw bizarrely treads on own stumps during free hit, fans speculate why

Rossouw stumps free hit
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Watch: There was a strange moment in the third South Africa-India T20I, with Rilee Rossouw seemingly deliberately stepping on his stumps as Mohammad Siraj prepared to bowl a free hit.

Fans speculated as to the possible motives behind the act, and debated whether Rossouw stepping on his own stumps could have backfired, but Siraj opted not to deliver the ball, which was called dead.

The incident came in the 17th over of South Africa’s innings, with the Proteas placed on 174-2. Rossouw, on 77, received a reprieve when he hit Siraj out to deep point, with the umpire decreeing that the wide full toss was too high, signalling a no ball.


As Siraj ran in to bowl the free hit, Rossouw stepped back onto his own stumps, before stepping forward again slightly. Siraj then opted not to bowl the ball, throwing the ball to the ground instead.

With Rossouw’s actions seemingly calculated, there was discussion over why he might have chosen to step on his own stumps. One theory was that Rossouw was deliberately lessening the chance of a run out, one of the few ways a batter can be dismissed on a free hit, with India needing to uproot a stump, rather than just a bail, after the stumps had been disturbed.

There were also suggestions that, had Siraj delivered the ball, the result would have been a dot irrespective of where Rossouw hit the ball. However, it is not clear what section of the Laws of Cricket or the ICC’s Playing Conditions would preclude any scoring. It is possible that law, which states that an umpire should call ‘dead ball’ if “one or both bails fall from the striker’s wicket before the striker has had the opportunity of playing the ball” would have applied if Siraj had delivered the ball, rather than pulling out.

In the end, when the free hit was bowled, Rossouw hit the delivery out to deep point for two. He ended up making an unbeaten, 48-ball century, winning the Player of the Match award as South Africa triumphed by 49 runs.

Watch Rossouw step on his stumps during a free hit below:


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