On April 7, when Western Australia (WA) and Victoria competed to avoid the wooden spoon award, Victoria suffered a crucial blow.
Batting first, Victoria had Sam Harper and Nic Maddinson opening the innings. A controversy happened in the second ball of the fifth over when Dan Worrall bowled Harper in the slot, which the Victorian pushed back to the bowler, stepping out of the crease in the process.
Worrall was quick to stop the ball in his follow-up and throw it back at the stumps in an attempt to send Harper back to the pavilion.
Harper, on the other hand, instead of running back in his crease to save his wicket, pushed the ball with his feet.
Here’s the video:
— Fox Cricket (@FoxCricket) April 8, 2021
A huge uproar by Travis Head and his teammates followed the incident.
A long conversation took place between on-field umpires Peter Gillespie and Sam Nogajski before the third umpire Shawn Graig intervened and confirmed the dismissal.
The 24-year-old Victorian was shocked to be given out so late.
He, for once, thought that the decision would be in his favour as the umpires were going towards Travis Head to ask him to scrap off the appeal and give the benefit of the doubt to Harper.
Both sides playing in the Junction Oval had zero wins in their kitty and were trying to avoid the wooden spoon.
Andrew Symonds, who was commentating at that time, placed the decision favouring the South Australians and further added that had he been the umpire, he would have sent Harper back to the pavilion.
“The ball would have probably gone on to hit middle and leg stump, so the throw was straight. When the ball makes contact with his legs he’s a foot outside his ground, so he’s preventing the ball from going back to hit the stumps. It’s a classic example of obstruction,” Symonds said.
The Veteran Australian even asserted that South Australians have nothing to apologize for and shouldn’t withdraw their appeal.
“It’s not as if the South Australians are showing any sort of bad spirit. It’s a rule and it’s part of the game. Harper’s well short of his ground. People might be shaking their heads but that’s out … the right decision’s been made. Some good sharp reaction works there from Dan Worrall,” Symonds added.
Obstructing the field is Law 37 in the Laws of Cricket established by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). A batter can be given out for obstructing the field if he wilfully attempts to obstruct or distract the fielding side by word or action.
Law 37 describes three specific circumstances where this applies, but the Law is not limited to these circumstances:
- If, in the act of playing the ball, the batsmen wilfully strikes the ball with a hand not holding the bat, unless this is to avoid injury.
- If either batsman should wilfully obstruct or distract a fielder preventing a catch from being made.
- If, at any time, while the ball is in play and without the consent of a fielder, he uses his bat or any part of his person to return the ball to any fielder.
But as a saving grace, Victorians who had put 337 on board in 50 overs came out victorious as WA tumbled for 312 in response.
With this, the Victorians have certainly avoided the wooden spoon and saved their pride.