Ben Stokes out obstructing the field

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We haven’t seen this incident yet, but it appears to be big news. That happens whenever someone’s dismissed in a weird way and when there’s also a ‘should he have been given out?’ element, you effectively get two stories for the price of one.

As far as we can tell, it was precisely fifty-fifty whether Stokes was given out or not. We know this because reports feature expert opinion from both the Australia captain and the England captain. The former said it was out. The latter said it was not out. Opinion is therefore equally split and there’s simply no way of determining the rightness or wrongness of the decision.

“The umpires are there to do a job, to make a decision,” said Smith, who, to be fair to him, does always back the umpires when they make a decision in his team’s favour – every time; without fail.

If there is a silver lining to this, it’s that someone was given out obstructing the field. These more obscure modes of dismissal rarely get an airing. Hopefully somebody will be timed out in the next match.


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  1. I have Out Rage. That’s Rage about Stokes being given Out. It is also the word Outrage, which is another thing I have. This use of words proves my case.

    Many have said, prior to this incident, that in order to determine intent the full speed reply must form a big part if the analysis. Fully taking this into account, the third umpire asked for a slow speed replay, and then the same replay again. In this replay, at slow speed, there is plenty of time for Stokes to see the ball and decide to deflect it. At full speed, he would have to have the speed of cats to have done it deliberately.

    Therefore, this is not only an example of an obscure method of getting out, much to be cherished, but also a classic example of a video umpire getting a decision palpably wrong, making himself look like a dick. These things are also to be cherished.

  2. I suspect that Stokes will personally take it upon himself to explore all the obscure ways of getting out. After his early prowess in getting out and then breaking his wrist, he progressed to being run out while potentially being “in”, and now his attempt to catch a ball being thrown at the stumps.

    Timed out, hit the ball twice and handling the ball will surely come easily to him.

    1. Vasbert Drakes remains the only player in first class cricket history to be given Timed Out while not in the same country as the match being played.

    2. I always felt that the name Vasbert Drakes should belong to the first man who circumnavigated the world, or something like that, rather than one of those Barbadian quicks on the fringes of the great West Indies side.

      His claim to fame – timed out while not even in the same country as the match – merely supports my “circumnavigating explorer” theory.

  3. The third umpire got this one right. A simple calculation can help convince people.

    Let us start by making the reasonable assumption that Starc flung the sphere back at around 80 miles an hour – that’s roughly 36 meters per sec. Given the pitch is around 20 meters, and Stokes was well outside the crease, the ball should’ve taken around half a second to reach him. It is well known that Stokes has both peripheral AND backwards vision, so he correctly estimated that with a man of Starc’s height imparting that kind of speed, the ball must reach the stumps at just the height to hit the top of off.

    If anything, this incident proves the laws of cricket are robust and Ben Stokes is a dick.

    1. Quite right – and it has been scientifically proven that people see life threatening events in slow motion. Therefore the only appropriate manner in which to judge the incident was via the slow motion replay which therefore was ACTUALLY reverse angle footage of what Stokes perceived.*

      *This entire paragraph is bullshit, the word actually should be banned, and people who think that typing in capitals ACTUALLY reinforces their argument should be put out of their misery.

  4. I am with Bert on this one – most of the fault lies with the umpiring on this matter – in particular the 3rd umpire failing to engage his brain on a type of referral that probably never came up in this fashion on his training course.

    Joking apart, Deep Cower, that chuck from Starc would be well above 80 mph (probably nearer 100 – he bowls at 90-odd) and the distance between Starc and Stokes far less that 20 yards. Reaction time well under half-a-second – look at the video in real time.

    The Aussie incredulity on the unsporting nature of their response to this matter (probably culturally par for the course) is rather unfortunate in the light of recent tragic events.

    Do we need to see another player killed or very seriously injured before the folly of this line is realised? Failing to take evasive action as the new paradigm i.e. instinctive evasive action deemed to be willful obstruction and therefore players will work to cultivate a new instinct – that every blow should be taken on the full – Brian Close like – regardless of safety? That chuck from Starc terrified me and I was merely watching it on the telly.

    1. I did watch it on youtube, Ged. The only way I could make sense of the preposterous decision was with preposterous humour.

    2. To be fair, if I’m ok with this being given out I should be ok with Stuart Broad breaking batsmen’s fingers every time he throws the ball at them in a petulant rage.
      When watching at full speed the only conclusion you can reasonably make is not out.
      As a side note I think there was a situation a few years back where an aussie blatantly handled the ball from an outfield throw in an ODI (may have been Marcus North?) but was given not out because he was defending himself. Anyone remember which game/batsman so I can find the clip?

  5. Well I can confirm that here in Australia 100% of people I have asked about it thought it was out and that Stokes is a dirty cheat and the English team are all a bunch of big crybabies. Admittedly the sample size for this survey was my dad, but I still think it is a fair depiction of the reaction down here.

  6. If you turn the sound up high you can clearly hear Starc saying “I’m throwing this at your fucking head”. I’m not sure the 3rd umpire heard that.

  7. Not sure what the fuss is about. He seemed clearly out, both in “real time” (ugh) and in slow-mo. The arguments in Stokes’ favour seem to revolve around him not being able to make decisions quickly, which is rather at odds with his ability to, you know, play Test cricket.

    Also little disappointing to hear an English crowd boo the umpire’s decision so viciously, and just dismaying to see someone up thread casually, and quite irrelevantly, use the tragic death of a young Australian to score some (very) cheap points.

    1. I never make expensive points; I could afford to do so, of course, but many could not, so that would be unfair.

      But my point about danger and evasive action was neither casual nor irrelevant. Nor am i alone in having concerns along these lines; the ICC are considering protective clothing for umpires as the top flight game gets harder, faster and increasingly dangerous. I just hope that my fears are not born out by another tragic incident.

      When Collingwood was unsporting in the (albeit different) Grant Elliot incident, the English public was equally vociferous against him and he temporarily lost his job over the matter.

      This site was reasonably consistent in condemning the unsporting behaviour at that time:

  8. Yawn, just more English cheating then claiming the opposition are the bad sports for calling them out for it. The Spirit of the law is what you invoke once the rules don’t give support for you.

    Identical response complete with booing, Captain decrying opposition sportsmanship, with Josh Butler getting mankaad last year (after multiple warnings).

    You lost the empire over 50 years ago. You’re just an small island in Europe now and the French and Germans make your rules.

  9. Has anyone worked out whether the ball would have hit the stumps or not? Surely this is the important thing. If the ball would have hit the stumps, Stokes was obstructing the field and is therefore a cheating oik. Ban him, ban him from cricket, ban him from sport, and ban him from being allowed to call himself an Englishman.

    But if the ball was missing the stumps, Stokes can only have been preventing the ball from going for four overthrows, presumably because he felt that scoring in such a lucky way was against the ancient English principles of sportsmanship, honesty and fairness. Or maybe he was protecting the wicket-keeper from injury, with an act of self-sacrifice the like of which has not been seen since Agincourt. What a hero. I am going to rename both my children Ben Stokes in his honour. God save the queen.

  10. Finding it really hard to get worked up about this. I wonder why?

    Oh yes – it’s because ODIs don’t matter and we already won The Ashes.

  11. I’m afraid the handling of this in Law is rather easy, and much easier than nearly anyone in the media, at least, is pretending. The umpires got the decision right, of course.

    Law 37.1’s particular case is rather clear. Stokes saw the ball and stuck his hand out to meet it (to protect himself, he says). Therefore he meets the subjective test under 37.1: he wilfully struck the ball with his hand.

    37.1(i) gives him a single out: the batsman will not be out if–objectively–the ball was struck by the hand in order to avoid injury. But this test is objective, and as the ball was missing Stokes by miles, it was not struck in order to avoid injury. Stokes is out.

    I note that this combination of a subjective test of intent to strike, and the objective test of avoidance of injury, is deliberate. This is why Law 37.1 was revised in this way in 2000 according to the deliberations of the committee that suggested the revision.

    (Unfortunately, MCC in explaining the later, 2013 revisions has buggered up the explanation, in its explanation of the 2013 changes somehow dragging the “attempt to avoid injury” nonsense that was deliberately excluded from the 2000 and subsequent text of the Law.)

    1. Viz 37.1(i) I’d suggest that the batsman’s intent is pertinent rather than whether the ball would have hit him. The ball was missing Stokes because he took evasive action. To me it looked as if both actions – sticking his hand out and evading – were instinctive reactions to avoid injury.

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