Mohammad Hafeez given out for ‘obstructing the field’!
Mohammad Hafeez was controversially given out for ‘obstructing the field’ in the 4th ODI against South Africa at Durban – he is only the fourth man in ODI history to be given out in this manner. Somewhat predictably, the previous man was Inzamam-ul-Haq.
The controversy centres around the question: did Hafeez knowingly veer into the path of the ball, in order to intentionally obstruct its passage towards the stumps?
Third umpire Billy Bowden thought so, even though the evidence errs on the circumstantial side – Hafeez turns back, but does he see de Villiers is about to throw the ball? Or is he transfixed on Imran Farhat, and in turning his head to his left, does he naturally veer to his left?
It’s impossible to tell for sure, although I suspect a bit of both.
This is where the problem with this new form of dismissal lies – an overwhelming majority of the time, decisions are going to be almost entirely subjective. Controversy and contentiousness of the decision aside, inconsistent application of a law will mean that it is obsolete.
Throughout its history, cricket has had a quaint way of forcing square pegs into non-existent round holes, and this is yet another example.
Scrap the new ‘obstructing the field’ law for batsmen: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.