Tuesday, 8 September 2015


Fantasy Bob has been absorbing the implications of  Ben Stokes'  dismissal for obstructing the field in last Saturday's ODI.

It been suggested many times has  that Fantasy Bob has obstructed the field.  The umpires have always declined such appeals - not least because FB has been a member of the fielding side at the time.

FB's colleagues did not consider this a relevant consideration and lamented these decisions vigorously.  They seemed unconvinced by the qualities of calmness and stability that FB claimed to bring to the fielding side.  'But he was clearly in the way,' appealed the fleet-footed junior whose energetic pursuit of the ball to the boundary had been subject to a significant diversion to circumambulate the remarkably stationary FB.  'Clearly in the way,' beseeched a different enthusiastic junior on another occasion as the even more remarkably stationary FB failed to duck in time as the youngster's howitzer-return rocketed in from the boundary homing in unerringly on middle stump.  Invocations of the spirit of cricket availed them naught.  The umpires were unmoved.  As was FB, who FB remained on the field of play - stationary.

FB has seen collisions between batsmen and fielders occur from time to time which disregard for the spirit of cricket might deem obstructive.  He has seen batsmen diving for the crease, usually following inappropriate calls for a quick single skittling stumps, wicket keeper and slips as they career along the ground wholly out of control.  Not so much obstructing the field as ploughing it. 

He has seen senior bowlers, at the end of what passes for their follow through, innocently resting after the overwhelming effort of getting their delivery towards the batter's end, trampled underfoot by that same onrushing batsmen. 

These slapstick incidents are enjoyed by all who do not see it appropriate to spoil the collective mirth by appealing for obstruction.

Pundits have expressed concern that the incident will mean that bowlers will forever be throwing the ball at the batsman and appealing for obstruction.  The risk of this in lower league cricket is low.  For  FB has seen many attempt Mitchell Starc's feat of picking the ball up in their follow through and attempting to throw the wicket down.   The result has invariably been 4 byes, or a slipped disc or both.  There has been no need for the batsman to take evasive action* or stretch his arm out to deflect the ball* (*readers should delete according to their nationality).

Lower league bowlers therefore generally resist this temptation.  Regrettably this common sense does not always extend to their lower league wicket keeping colleagues many of whom, even though they stand so far behind the wicket that would make the casual observer suspect that Shoaib Ahktar must be the bowler, attempt a stumping on every ball.  The ball finds itself in their gloves, whether by accident or design, and they immediately fling it at the direction of the stumps regardless of the batsman's actions.  The stumps have to be reset several times an over.   It would try the patience of an Eion Morgan.  Not to mention causing the square leg umpire extreme exhaustion as he is required to trot back and forth.

There is therefore much to reflect on in the Stokes' incident.  One aspect of it struck FB more than any other.  Watching the incident in real time, FB would have said that Stokes was not out.  But watching it in slow motion, he thinks that it is clearly out.  He explained matters to Mrs FB at length over the breakfast  table next morning.

'Just as well we don't have slow motion,' he remarked at the end of his extended exegesis.

'What do you mean?' she replied showing a surprising level of wakefulness. 'Your only motion is slow.'

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