Ben Stokes: Steve Smith defends obstructing the field dismissal

Ben Stokes gestures
Stokes indicated that he parried the ball with his hand to avoid being hit

Australia captain Steve Smith said England batsman Ben Stokes was "blatantly out" and he did not regret appealing for his dismissal in the one-day international at Lord's.

Stokes, who made 10, was given out after bowler Mitchell Starc's throw at the stumps hit him on the left hand.

"If you're out of your crease and put your hand up to stop the ball, it's out," said Smith after the 64-run win.

England captain Eoin Morgan said he would have withdrawn the appeal.

Stokes is the first England batsman - and sixth overallexternal-link - to be dismissed obstructing the field in a one-day international.

  • See the bottom of this story for a picture timeline of events

Stokes left his crease after driving the ball back to Starc, who collected it in his follow-through and threw at the striker's end in an attempt to run him out.

However, Stokes stopped the ball with his hand as he turned and dived to regain his ground.

Smith chose not to withdraw Starc's appeal and, after on-field umpires Kumar Dharmesena and Tim Robinson referred the decision, television umpire Joel Wilson recommended that Stokes be given out.

Law 37 - Obstructing the field
1. Either batsman is out obstructing the field if he wilfully attempts to obstruct or distract the fielding side by word or action. In particular, but not solely, it shall be regarded as obstruction and either batsman will be out... if while the ball is in play and after the striker has completed the act of playing the ball... he wilfully strikes the ball with (i) a hand not holding the bat, unless this is in order to avoid injury, or (ii) any other part of his person or with his bat.
2. It is for either umpire to decide whether any obstruction or distraction is wilful or not. He shall consult the other umpire if he has any doubt.
Read more from the Laws of Cricketexternal-link

Smith said: "It might have looked a bit worse because it went back to the bowler, but it's exactly the same as me turning for a second run, putting my arm out and stopping the ball.

"The ball wasn't going to hit him, he was out of his crease, he put his arm out and got in the way of the ball. The ball was going very close to hitting the stumps.

How TMS commentary team called it: 'Well, I think that's ridiculous'

"If you read the rule book, we're well within our rights to appeal and the umpires have given it out."

Asked if he considered withdrawing the appeal, Smith said: "Not at all. I've got no dramas with that.

"I thought it was the right decision at the time and I still think it's the right decision."

'It was obvious - he was protecting himself'

England captain Eoin Morgan, at the non-striker's end when the incident happened, said he would have called the batsman back if England were fielding.

"A guy throws the ball in your direction and all you can do is flinch," said Morgan, who made 85 as England were bowled out for 245 chasing 310 to win.

"You don't have time to think. It was a natural reaction to avoid the ball. Mitchell Starc was about five yards away from Ben Stokes.

"The decision was made. It would have been a lot different if we were fielding."

Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew is worried the incident could set a precedent

Former England skipper Michael Vaughan said on BBC Test Match Special: "Anyone who has played the game knows that when the ball is thrown at you from close range like that you put your hand up to protect yourself.

"When you see it in real time he fears the ball is going to hit him. It was obvious. It was a poor decision."

Ex-England wicketkeeper Alec Stewart added: "He was taking evasive action; he's looking the other way. Show me someone who can catch the ball looking the other way?

"You would have thought between the three umpires that common sense would have prevailed."

Former Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne tweeted:external-link "We didn't like to see what happened at Lord's. Feel for Stokes..."

Ex-England batsman Mark Ramprakash was out obstructing the field while playing for Surrey against Gloucestershire in the County Championship in 2011.

The most recent unusual dismissal involving England came when Vaughan was given out handled the ball in a Test against India in Bangalore in 2001.

Mitchell Starc
With Ben Stokes out of his crease, Mitchell Starc threw the ball at the stumps
Ben Stokes
Stokes, on 10, stopped the ball with his left hand as he dived to make his ground
Ben Stokes
Stokes lies on the ground as Australia appeal
Umpire Kumar Dharmasena
Umpire Kumar Dharmasena gives Stokes out after consulting with Joel Wilson
Ben Stokes
An angry Stokes leaves the field
Eoin Morgan and Steve Smith
England captain Eoin Morgan and Australia counterpart Steve Smith exchange words

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