Watch: A strange dismissal in Australian domestic cricket has sparked debate over the spirit of the game, with Victoria wicketkeeper Sam Harper given out ‘obstructing the field’ after being hit by a return throw from South Australia opening bowler Daniel Worrall.
The incident occurred at the start of a thrilling One-Day Cup clash, eventually won by Victoria. Harper, on seven, blocked Worrall back down the pitch, with the right-armer fielding the ball before firing a shy at the stumps, with the batsman having left his ground in the act of playing his stroke.
Harper stepped back towards his stumps, in doing so intercepting the ball on its path to the wicket. South Australia appealed, and Harper was given out obstructing the field.
Some felt that, if Harper were back in his ground, that could have saved him from being given out in such fashion. However, the Marsh Cup playing conditions, in line with those of the MCC, make clear that it is the intent of the batsman that is key, rather than his actually preventing a run out.
“Either batter is out obstructing the field if…while the ball is in play, the batter wilfully attempts to obstruct or distract the fielding side by word or action,” they state. They go on to clarify that “It shall not be relevant whether a run out would have occurred or not.”
However, the next section states that, “A batter shall not be out obstructing the field if obstruction or distraction is accidental”.
Harper’s dismissal is, therefore, a tricky one to judge. He didn’t walk backwards in an exactly straight line to his stumps, but he also had little time to react between Worrall striking the ball and the ball hitting him, making it debatable whether his actions were wilful.
Others felt that while the dismissal was technically out by the letter of the law, Worrall should have withdrawn his appeal.
Perhaps you should watch the decision below and decide for yourself: