Australia v India, CB Series, Sydney February 26, 2012

David Hussey in handling-the-ball incident


David Hussey came close to being given out handling the ball/obstructing the field, but the umpires ruled him not out under laws that remain open to interpretation. The incident led to a three-minute break in play and evoked differing opinions among former players; while Ian Chappell and Tony Greig thought he was out, Ravi Shastri and Sanjay Manjrekar thought he wasn't.

In the 24th over of the Australian innings, Matthew Wade pushed to cover for a single, and Hussey ran towards the danger end. As he approached the striker's end, he stuck his hand out - apparently in self-preservation because the ball could have hit him - and India appealed as soon as the contact was made.

The umpires - Simon Taufel at square leg and Billy Bowden - conferred for about three minutes to arrive at the not-out verdict. This case didn't fall under last year's addition to Law 37, which states a batsman can be given out obstructing the field if he changes his direction while running and comes in the way of a throw. Because Hussey didn't change his direction, this appeal, in all likelihood, fell under either the old obstruction law or the handling the ball rule.

Law 33, which deals with handling the ball, says: "(a) Either batsman is out Handled the ball if he wilfully touches the ball while in play with a hand or hands not holding the bat unless he does so with the consent of a fielder. (b) Either batsman is out under this Law if, while the ball is in play, and without the consent of a fielder, he uses his hand or hands not holding the bat to return the ball to any fielder."

There is a provision, an escape clause in Law 33, though: "Notwithstanding 1(a) above, a batsman will not be out under this Law if he handles the ball to avoid injury."

Law 37, which deals with obstruction, says: "Either batsman is out Obstructing the field if he wilfully obstructs or distracts the fielding side by word or action. Furthermore, it shall be regarded as obstruction if while the ball is in play either batsman wilfully, and without the consent of a fielder, strikes the ball with his bat or person, other than a hand not holding the bat, after the ball has been touched by a fielder. This shall apply whether or not there is any disadvantage to the fielding side."

In all likelihood, based on the evidence so far, Hussey was deemed to be avoiding injury. If the umpires interpreted it that way, the right decision was taken, but it will be interesting to learn how they and the teams viewed it. That the law is open to interpretation confuses things further.

There have been only two instances of batsmen being given out handling the ball in ODI cricket: Mohinder Amarnath, an India selector now, and Daryll Cullinan. Those two, though, were given out when they handled the ball bowled at them, so had Hussey been given out here it would have been a first.

Only three batsmen have been given out obstructing the field in ODIs. Amarnath features on that list too, given out "kicking the ball" with two fielders converging on it, joined by Ramiz Raja, who was trying a second to reach his hundred with a couple off the last ball of an innings, and Inzamam-ul-Haq, who patted back a defensive shot at a throw from mid-off.

Edited by Siddarth Ravindran

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 28, 2012, 2:35 GMT

    This should have been out, and - like Tendulker, it was out too -- Umpires made a mistake not giving Hussy out either. This Series sure has had some controversal things!

  • Ryan on February 28, 2012, 0:02 GMT

    What were Hussey's options? He is completely entitled to run a straight line to make his ground (which he did). So that is ok. If you watch the replay you'll see that the path of the ball was going to directly intersect with where he was running so there are a couple of things he could do. He could stop running comlpletely so that the throw missed him (but in that case he almost certainly would have been run out) so he didn't choose that option understandably. He could have keep running at full pace (if you watch you'll see he actually slowed down a bit) but the ball would have certainly hit him in the mid rift. (He would have been in but he risked having a couple of broken ribs, or hurting an elbow etc) OR according to the laws of cricket he is ENTITLED to handle the ball (with his hand) if he is attempting to avoid injury. He certainly has a case for that. He was watching the ball and made sure he got his hand in the way to avoid being hit by the throw. By cricket law he is not out!

  • Glenn on February 27, 2012, 23:41 GMT

    I'm a former QCA umpire. In my mind Hussey was definitely out Obstructing the field, and if not then handled the ball. Either way he's out.

  • John on February 27, 2012, 22:38 GMT

    Hussey had under .3 of a second to react to a ball thrown straight at him. I can see how he made up his mind to cleverly deflect the ball away from the stumps in that massive amount of time. No doubt many of the people claiming it was a deliberate action, including the incredibly silly Australian commentator and ex captain Mark Taylor whose opinion in the commentary box varies widely from from his former actions in the field, are capable of processing information at faster than light speed but David Hussey hails from Earth rather than the planet Krypton. What really irks me is that I know if it had been Sachin in the same position there would be claims that the fielder deliberately threw the ball at him! As for the Brett Lee thing, cast your minds back a few games and Raina was complaining because the batsmen were getting in his way while getting returning to their creases when he was trying to field the ball

  • Bob on February 27, 2012, 22:26 GMT

    The trouble with this incident is that what you see what you want to see...Obviously biased Indian supporters see it differently to biased Australians, altho it is interesting to note that the TV commentators saw it differently to what the majority of the two sets of supporters did.. My take, for what it's worth, is that the umpires saw it from a neutral point of view, or indeed, they should have done because that is their job and they decided that Hussey used his hand to avoid being hit by the ball. Being an ex-umpire myself and having viewed the replay several times, I'm inclined to go along with the opinion of two of the most highly regarded umpires in the business. Not out. If anybody is in any doubt about the decision... check the scorecard.. No amount of whining, whinging, conjecture or hypothesis is going to change it, so live with it and move on...

  • M on February 27, 2012, 19:15 GMT

    David was definitely obstructing the ball that that was likely to reach the wickets before him. Whether he did it intentionally or not that can be debated. He did push his hand more than he needed to. In my opinion, he should have been given out.

    Lee was intentionally in Tendulkar's path and he is a smart enough ( or should I say cunning) cricketer to do it innocently. He had no reason to be in Tendulkar's path.

    Definitely the umpires erred in both decisions. Tough luck to India though. They do not deserve to be in the final anyways. With all the in-fighting that is going on.

  • Nish on February 27, 2012, 15:12 GMT

    Another controversial rule is mankading... If the keeper can stump the batsmen, for not behind the crease when the ball is live.... then why can't the bowler do the same to the non-striker.... In both cases, both of them are trying to gain undue advantage by being out of the crease.... Why is one a Valid out and the other a controversy.... Any thoughts?

  • Nish on February 27, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    Like in soccer - It should not matter how/why it happened... But if it happens, then it is out.

    In soccer, no one bothers if the player willfully or unknowingly touched the ball by hand... If the player touches the ball by hand, it is a penalty... May be the opposition if it is too clever and accurate, they can just kick the ball right into the player's hand.. and get a penalty..

    Human interpretation of such things.. will be different from one person to another.. one umpire to another, one captain to another....

    Leave such decisions to.. rule of thumb and leave the human factor out..

    Unless you think cricket needs the controversy to keep itself alive....

  • Srinivas on February 27, 2012, 15:01 GMT

    Why do you stick your hand out towards a projectile that's away from your body? If you want to protect yourself, then logically you keep your hands to yourself covering the parts of the body that a projectile is coming towards. Whoever that ruled David Hussey as notout was wrong. I support Dhoni on that front. That's my take on David Hussey's incident.

  • Master on February 27, 2012, 14:19 GMT

    I am sure if BCCI and Dhoni had allowed DRS, nothing of this would have happened ;)

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