MCC releases verdict on controversial 'obstruction' dismissal

The Marylebone Cricket Club has given its official verdict on the controversial decision that saw Proteas young gun Jiveshan Pillay given out ‘obstructing the field’.

The MCC, considered the guardian of the laws of the game, posted an official statement to clear up the issue after days of debate among cricket fans and players throughout the world.

In the incident which played out at the under-19 World Cup in New Zealand, the South African batsman was seen watching the ball roll towards his stumps after edging the ball off his bat.

The youngster waited for the ball to become stationary before picking it up and passing it back to West Indies keeper and captain Emmanuel Stewart, in what was widely considered a helpful and friendly act.

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Pillay makes the mistake of picking up the ball. Pic: ICC

What happened next was considered far less sportsmanlike.

Stewart appealed to the umpires before a decision of out, obstructing the field, was handed down by the third umpire.

Now the MCC have responded in no uncertain terms, declaring the decision correct.

"The first thing to say is that the umpires were completely correct in their decision to give Pillay out Obstructing the field," the MCC statement reads.

"The Laws of Cricket are extremely clear on this matter. Law 37.4 states:

The skippers. Pic: Getty

"'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.'

"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 statement went on to explain exactly why the laws are this way, despite them seeming harsh.

"This Law has been questioned – why should a batsman be punished for being helpful?

"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.

Pillay can't believe the decision. Pic: ICC

"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."

Despite this law, many punters on social media argued the decision by West Indies captain Stewart to appeal for a wicket in that instance was unsportsmanlike.

The MCC statement explained that even if he did attempt to withdraw his appeal, he may not have been granted his wish by the umpires.

“The captain of the fielding side may withdraw an appeal only after obtaining the consent of the umpire within whose jurisdiction the appeal falls. If such consent is given, the umpire concerned shall, if applicable, revoke the decision and recall the batsman.

"The withdrawal of an appeal must be before the instant when the ball comes into play for the next delivery or, if the innings has been completed, the instant when the umpires leave the field.”

The statement concluded with the important reminder of the age and relative inexperience of both players embroiled in the ugly incident.

"The West Indies captain, Emmanuel Stewart could, therefore, with the consent of the umpires, have withdrawn the appeal, had he wished to. Interestingly, he said after the game that, if he had the time again, he would withdraw the appeal.

"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.

"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."

It's not the first time the West Indies have been accused of poor sportsmanship at the Under-19 World Cup.

In 2016 they were heavily criticised after winning a game against Zimbabwe when they took the final wicket with a 'Mankad'.