Brisbane Heat captain Brendon McCullum has said Hobart Hurricanes captain George Bailey “missed an opportunity” to uphold the spirit of the game following a bizarre obstructing-the-field incident during a BBL clash at the Gabba.
Batsman Alex Ross was given out obstructing the field at a critical point in the Heat’s chase of 180. Needing 49 runs from 19 balls, Ross pulled the ball to deep midwicket and looked to return for a second run. Jofra Archer fired a throw wide of the stumps at the striker’s end and hit Ross as he was sliding to make his ground. The ball eventually ricocheted onto the stumps off Ross.
The Hurricanes initially appealed thinking he might have been run-out. Replays then showed he had made his ground but they also indicated he had veered off his line. Ross appeared to veer away from the ball to avoid being hit rather than get intentionally into the line of the ball to block the throw but the third umpire gave him out obstructing the field.
Law 37.1 says a batsman is out obstructing the field “if he wilfully attempts to obstruct or distract the fielding side by word or action.”
McCullum held long and animated discussions with both the umpires and Bailey after the end of the match. While he disagreed with the third umpire’s decision, he aimed his ire not at the them but at Bailey and the Hurricanes for not calling Ross back.
“Firstly, I don’t believe it was the right decision,” McCullum said post-match.
“We’re not righteous about our stance on spirit of the game. But I think every now and then you get an opportunity to stand up for the spirit of the game. Tonight, I think the Hurricanes and George (Bailey) missed an opportunity.”
Bailey felt he had done nothing wrong and told broadcasters, Channel Ten, post-match that he had simply asked the question of the umpires and left the decision up to them.
McCullum said he and Bailey did not budge from their opposing views during their tense conversation.“We were debating the philosophical merits of one another’s points,” McCullum said.
“Whatever the rules are, to be honest I don’t really care what the rules are. To me that’s one of those grey areas about the definition of that rule, just like a Mankad is a grey area as well in terms of the rules that we have.
“But to me it also falls into the spirit of the game and that was what I was making the point to George and he’s quite entitled to do differently.
“As we say we’re not righteous about our stance. But I’m also going to be truthful about it and say that I think he missed an opportunity tonight. And perhaps in time, sometimes these opportunities are more important than the two points at play. I think he missed one of those tonight.
“I think (Ross) was trying to veer away from the ball. If you do check the laws it’s about wilfully obstructing the field. Again, none of that matters because to me it is a grey rule. When it’s grey, then it comes into the definition of the spirit of the game.
“They are quite entitled to do what they want. But I just get the feeling, speaking from experience that this is an opportunity that he, in time, will perhaps live to wish he had made the other choice.