LONDON, CMC – Under-fire West Indies Under-19s and their embattled captain, Emmanuel Stewart, have found backing from the historic Marylebone Cricket Club, in the controversial ‘obstructing the field’ dismissal of South African opener Jiveshan Pillay, during their ICC Youth World Cup match last Wednesday.
The left-handed Pillay picked up the ball and tossed it to wicketkeeper Stewart, following a delivery from pacer Jarion Hoyte, in the 17th over of the South African innings.
Stewart immediately appealed and following consultation between the umpires, Pillay was given out under Law 37.4 of the Laws of Cricket.
While Stewart’s actions drew strong rebuke from present and former international cricketers, the MCC said the player was well within his rights.
“The first thing to say is that the umpires were completely correct in their decision to give Pillay out obstructing the field,” the MCC, considered the guardians of the Laws of the game, said in a statement.
“Pillay did not seek, or receive the consent from, a fielder and did use his hand to return the ball to the wicket-keeper. He was thus rightly given out on appeal.”
The MCC said while the specific law had been questioned, it was there to protect the integrity of the ball for the fielding side.
“The reason behind it is that a fielding team will often take enormous care to maintain the condition of the ball – and they are allowed to do so. Any external influence on the ball – including a sweaty glove – could change its condition unfairly,” the statement continued. “Batsmen are therefore, instructed to leave the ball to the fielding side unless given specific consent to pick it up. It may seem harsh, but a scenario in which batsmen could, without any punishment, interfere with the ball would be far more problematic.
“Instead, all a batsman needs to remember is not to return the ball to any fielder without consent – as the popular adage goes: batsmen bat, bowlers bowl and let the fielders field.”
Following the game which the Young Windies lost by 76 runs, Stewart said on reflection while his appeal had been within the laws, it had breached the spirit of the game.
Law 37.4 states: ‘Either batsman is out obstructing the field if, at any time while the ball is in play and, without the consent of a fielder, he/she uses the bat or any part of his/her person to return the ball to any fielder.’
Stewart also conceded he should have withdrawn the appeal but the MCC pointed out that the player should not be pilloried for not having done so.
“Pillay made a mistake – he acted in a way not permitted under the Laws. He was correctly given out on appeal. While the opposing captain may withdraw the appeal, he should not be criticised for not doing so,” the MCC stressed.
“These players are young and are still learning the game. It appears that both Stewart and Pillay learnt valuable lessons on Wednesday – faced with the same situation again, both would probably act differently.”