Stokes dismissal row continues

2015-09-06 07:39
Aussie middle order performer Steve Smith. (AFP)

London - Australia captain Steven Smith had no qualms about his part in the controversial dismissal of England's Ben Stokes for obstructing the field in the second one-day international at Lord's on Saturday.

World Cup-holders Australia won by 64 runs to go 2-0 up in the five-match series.

But that was all overshadowed by the exit of Stokes during England's unsuccessful run chase.

In the 26th over, Stokes struck a straight drive which was stopped by bowler Mitchell Starc.

Left-arm paceman Starc then hurled the ball back hard towards Stokes who, leaning back and turning his head away, stopped it with a hand taken off the bat.

Australia appealed, believing Stokes had prevented a possible direct hit run out on his own stumps, and on-field umpires Kumar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka and former England batsman Tim Robinson referred the issue to third umpire Joel Wilson.

The relevant cricket Law or rule talks about "wilful obstruction" and does allow batsmen to protect themselves from injury

West Indian official Wilson gave Stokes out for 10, sparking the unusual sound of a chorus of boos at the 'home of cricket'.

Smith could have withdrawn the appeal.

But he saw no reason why he should and said the close-at-hand view of wicket-keeper Matthew Wade strengthened him in his original decision.

"Wadey had a good view of it from behind the stumps, and he said straightaway that he thought the ball was missing Stokesy and was going to go on and hit the stumps" said Smith.

"The way I saw it, he was out of his ground, and he wilfully put his hand out -- which is the rule ... and he got given out by the third umpire," added the captain, who top-scored with 70 when batting conditions were at their toughest in an Australia total of 309 for seven.

"If you look at it ... the ball was going towards the stumps, and wasn't even going to hit him.

"So I think he's put his hand out to stop the ball."

The booing, of Starc especially, continued until the end of the match, which came when England captain Eoin Morgan was out for 85, the highest score in a total of 245.

Smith added: "I thought that was quite disappointing.

"The umpire deemed it to be out. So I think we've just got to move on from that, and continue playing the game of cricket."

Morgan had his own eye-witness view of events as he was the non-striker when Stokes was given out to spark a collapse that saw four wickets lost for 46 runs.

"The guy throws the ball in your direction from five yards, and all you can do is flinch," he told Sky Sports after Stokes became only the second England batsman after Len Hutton to succumb to this rare form of dismissal.

"He was given out...I think it was a natural reaction to protect himself as much as anything else.

"My interpretation of it was that his reaction wasn't deliberate."

Morgan also revealed that Dharmasena's initial instinct was to rule not out but that official felt that confirmation by the television umpire was required.

"Kumar told me that they didn't think it was out ... and the third umpire has disagreed.

"I feel the ball was thrown so fast you can only react in a way that defends yourself.

"How you can interpret that is open. But certainly, I didn't think it was deliberate."

Australia great Shane Warne was among those who felt Stokes has been unfortunate, amid fears that Saturday's incident could set a dangerous precedent.

"We didn't like to see what happened at Lord's...Feel for Stokes," Warne tweeted.


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