stLONDON: Boos rang out around Lord’s after England batsman Ben Stokes was controversially given out obstructing the field against Australia in the second one-day international yesterday. The all-rounder struck s straight drive which was stopped by bowler Mitchell Starc.

Left-arm paceman Starc then hurled the ball back hard towards Stokes’s end who, leaning back back and turning his head away, stopped it with a hand taken off the bat. Australia appealed and on-field umpires Kumar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka and former England batsman Tim Robinson referred the issue to third umpire Joel Wilson.

The relevant cricket Law or rule talks about “wilful obstruction” and does allow batsmen to protect themselves from injury. After lengthy deliberation and the consideration of slow-motion, but not real-time replays, with Stokes not having much time to make a conscious decision, West Indian official Wilson gave him out for 10. England were then 141 for four in the 25th over, chasing 310 to win, with World Cup champions Australia already 1-0 up in the five-match series.

Eoin Morgan, the England captain, who was also batting at the time talked to both Australia skipper Steven Smith-presumably in the hope of getting the appeal withdrawn-and the on-field umpires. But the decision stood and as Stokes walked off at ‘the home of cricket’ there was the unusual sound of an umpire’s verdict being booed by a crowd renowned for being one of the least partisan in England.

However, former Australia fast bowler Merv Hughes, leading a tour group of supporters, signalled for the batsman to get off the field. Lord’s based Marylebone Cricket Club are responsible for the Laws of the game. As in so much of cricket, the issue came down to the interpretation of the relevant rule, in this case, Law 37, Obstructing the field. Stokes’s manner of dismissal was rarethis was the 3,681st ODI and the Durham man was only the sixth batsman to be given out obstructing the field at this level after India’s Mohinder Amarnath and the Pakistani quartet of Rameez Raja, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez and Anwar Ali. — AFP