Last weekend a relatively unused law had to be applied when there was an appeal by the fielding side for a batter obstructing the field and the umpire was correct in giving the batsman out.

He did ask the captain if he wanted the appeal to stand and the captain has every right to say yes, which he did.

Either batter can be out if, while the ball is in play, he wilfully tries to obstruct or distract the fielding side by word or action. This can occur off a no-ball and the bowler does not get any credit.

An umpire must decide whether the act was wilful or was the of batter trying to avoid injury. The umpire should be aware of more subtle ways a batter may act wilfully, such as a batter deliberately changing course in running, to try to block the path of the ball being thrown in for a run-out attempt. This is one of the more common occurrences and was seen in a recent IPL match where the batter deliberately changed direction. While running, he ran on the pitch to deliberately obstruct the throw. Sometimes it’s not a change of direction but the batter will deliberately run down the protected area to block a potential throw from the wicketkeeper to the bowler’s end. If the umpire thinks the change of direction was to avoid being injured by the throw then the batsman will not be out.

There was a case some while ago when a running batter, realising he would not make his ground in time, threw his bat at the stumps to break the wicket. As he was in the act of running, he could not be out ‘hit wicket’, but he was given out obstructing the field as the fielding side were prevented from breaking the wicket directly with the ball to run him out, and it would take time to replace at least one bail or pull a stump out of the ground with the ball in hand to do so.

Handled the ball now comes under obstructing the field, so if the batter handles the ball with the hand not holding the bat he is out obstruction the field - which means if he picks the ball up to return to the bowler, an appeal can be made, hence you often see batters ask permission to pick the ball up.