Obstructing the field is one of the rare ways of losing a wicket in cricket. Recently, Sri Lankan opening batsman Danushka Gunathilaka became the eighth batsman in the history of One-Day International (ODI) cricket to get dismissed in such a fashion.
It happened in the first ODI of the three-match series between West Indies and Sri Lanka at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Wednesday. Gunathilaka was playing well and had formed a 105-run partnership with skipper Dimuth Karunaratne for the opening wicket.
However, both batsmen were dismissed in quick succession, followed by a collapse, and it resulted in Sri Lanka losing the match by 8-wickets as the hosts comfortably chased down the set target. The dismissal of Gunthilaka grabbed maximum eyeballs when he was adjudged out for obstructing the field.
During the 22nd over of Lankan innings, Gunathilaka took a couple of steps out to take a single but then decided to get back to his crease. In an attempt to return to his crease, the batsman ended up deflecting the ball away from Kieron Pollard’s reach with the base of his foot. The bowler appealed immediately, and the third umpire was called. After having a look at several replays, TV umpire too agreed with the ‘out’ decision made by the on-field umpires.
According to Law 37 of the laws of cricket, if “a batsman willfully attempts to distract or obstruct the fielding side by action or words, the batsman on strike during the ball can be given out. Further, handling the ball, which is another rare mode of dismissal in cricket, is included under the rule of obstruction of the field.”
The first batsman who was dismissed obstructing the field in ODI’s was former Pakistan captain and now a renowned commentator, Ramiz Raja. In the year 1987, Pakistan was playing an ODI against England in Karachi. Ramiz was unbeaten on 98 when he used his bat to prevent the ball from hitting the stumps. It was the first time an obstruction had occurred in an ODI fixture.
Another prominent cricketer who got out in this bizarre mode was ex-Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq. During the first ODI against India in 2006 at Peshawar, Inzi drove the ball to mid-off, where Suresh Raina was positioned. The Indian fielder threw the ball back to the striker’s end, but Inzamam stopped it with his bat. Inzamam was given out as he was in the line of the stumps and out of his crease.
In 2015, England all-rounder Ben Stokes was given out obstructing the field during the second ODI against Australia. He tried to stop the ball from his hand when Mitchell Starc threw the white leather to run Stokes out.
Here is the complete list of batsmen given out obstructing the field in ODIs:
- Ramiz Raja v ENG, 1987
- Mohinder Amarnath v SL, 1989
- Inzamam-ul-Haq v IND, 2006
- Mohammad Hafeez v SA, 2013
- Anwar Ali v SA, 2013
- Ben Stokes v AUS, 2015
- Xavier Marshall v UAE, 2019
- Danushka Gunathilaka v WI, 2021