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Ben Stokes dismissal stirs up controversy

England's Ben Stokes (right) reacts before being given out obstructing the field in the second ODI against Australia at Lord's.
England's Ben Stokes (right) reacts before being given out obstructing the field in the second ODI against Australia at Lord's.
©REUTERS / Action Images

The dismissal of Ben Stokes, who was given out obstructing the field in the second One-Day International against Australia at Lord's on Saturday, has stirred up controversy.

Stokes was batting on 10 runs off seven balls when he tried to take evasive action against a run out attempt made by the bowler, Mitchell Starc.

As he tried to move out of the way, Stokes' outstretched hand iintercepted the path of ball, triggering the appeal from Starc and the rest of the players for obstructing the field.

The on-field umpires Kumar Dharmasena and Tim Robinson referred the decision to the third umpire Joel Wilson, who upheld the appeal made by the Australians after watching multiple replays.

The decision did not go down well with the crowd at Lord’s, who echoed their displeasure by booing the Australians in the field.

Many former players came out in support of Stokes by stating that the decision was not made in the right spirit.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan, who was on air for BBC Test Match Special, disagreed with the decision while asserting that Stokes was only taking evasive action to protect himself.

"It was a poor decision,” said Vaughan.

"Anyone who has played the game knows that when the ball is thrown at you from close range like that you put your hand up to protect yourself.

“When you see it real time he fears the ball is going to hit him (Stokes). It was obvious.” 

Echoing his support for Stokes was ex-England captain Alec Stewart, who reasoned that Stokes was looking the other way when the ball hit his hand.

"He (Stokes) was taking evasive action - common sense will tell you that.

“He's looking the other way.

“Show me someone who can catch the ball looking the other way?

"You would have thought between the three umpires that common sense would have prevailed.” 

Stokes’ dismissal put England in a precarious position at 141 for four, from which they never recovered, eventually losing the game by 64 runs.

In the post-match presentation, England captain Eoin Morgan expressed his disappointment at the incident by stating that Stokes had no time to react.

“It was difficult, the guy throws at you from five yards, all you can do is flinch, and you don’t have time to think.

“He was given out and at the back of it, he was dismissed, I am not sure what to think of it to be honest.

“The decision was made, certainly it would have been a lot different if we were fielding.

“I think it was just a natural reaction to protect himself, it was what it was.” 

Responding to Morgan’s comments, Smith iterated that he interpreted the incident as Stokes wilfully obstructing the ball.

“The umpires are there to make a decision.

“It went upstairs to the third umpire, he saw it the way we saw it and it was given out.

“If you wilfully put the arm out in front of the ball, you are given out, that is the way it went.” 

Stokes became only the sixth batsman in the history of the ODI format to be given out obstructing the field after Rameez Raja, Mohinder Amarnath, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez and Anwar Ali.

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