The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has made a statement on Pakistan batsman Fakhar Zaman’s controversial run-out via South African wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock’s act of gamesmanship in the second ODI of the ongoing series on Sunday (April 4) in Johannesburg.
Zaman was batting on 193 when the incident took place in the final over of Pakistan’s run-chase where the visitors needed 31 runs off six balls. Zaman, and his batting partner Haris Rauf, tried to run across for a two and looked like doing so comfortably until De Kock’s trickery came to South Africa’s rescue.
De Kock pointed his finger towards the bowler’s end even as the throw arrived towards him from the long-on region. Zaman got distracted by De Kock’s gesture and slowed down while completing the second run. Just then, the throw from fieldsman Aiden Markram directly hit the stumps and caught the batsman short.
While many accused De Kock of fake fielding and breaching the ICC law, the two on-field umpires let the instance go and didn’t impose the five-run penalty on South Africa as the law allows them to if they had deemed it an act of deliberately deceiving the batsman.
“Up To Umpires To Decide If There Was An Attempt Of Fake Fielding” – MCC
On Monday (April 5), the official MCC Twitter handle posted the ICC adopted law related to the dismissals where a fielder may have willfully attempted to distract, deceive or obstruct the two batsmen at the crease. However, cricket’s law-making body didn’t clarify if De Kock was guilty of breaching the law or not.
Under Law 41.5 of the MCC, about “deliberate distraction, deception or obstruction of batsman”, Law 41.5.1 says: “… it is unfair for any fielder wilfully to attempt, by word or action, to distract, deceive or obstruct either batsman after the striker has received the ball”, and Law 41.5.2 says, “it is for either one of the umpires to decide whether any distraction, deception or obstruction is wilful or not”.
The MCC reinforced Law 41.5.2 in its statement, mentioning that it was upto the two umpires to decide whether De Kock’s attempt was wilful.
The Law is clear, with the offence being an ATTEMPT to deceive, rather than the batsman actually being deceived.
It’s up to the umpires to decide if there was such an attempt. If so, then it's Not out, 5 Penalty runs + the 2 they ran, and batsmen choose who faces next ball.
— Marylebone Cricket Club (@MCCOfficial) April 4, 2021
De Kock’s gesture triggered debates around the ICC law on fake fielding and specifically whether the wicketkeeper was attempting to distract Zaman, which would’ve, therefore, played a part in him slowing down as he misinterpreted the direction of the throw.
If the two umpires had found De Kock guilty of fake fielding, Law 41.5.3 would have come into effect. It states, “If either umpire considers that a fielder has caused or attempted to cause such a distraction, deception or obstruction, he/she shall immediately call and signal Dead ball and inform the other umpire of the reason for the call.”
The ICC incorporated the fake fielding law in playing conditions for international cricket back in 2017. Back then, Fraser Stewart, the MCC’s laws of cricket manager, had explained why the law is being adopted.
“The reason for the introduction of this law was that fielders were deliberately pretending to have the ball as a means of fooling the batsmen, thereby preventing them from taking further runs. The batsmen would see a slide and a feigned throw and would decline, for example, a second run,” Stewart had told ESPNcricinfo.
“By the time they realised the ball had not been thrown, it would then be too late to take the second run. This was felt to be unfair. It was becoming an increasingly used practice at various levels of the game. It formed one of the questions in MCC’s global consultation and the response was overwhelmingly in favour of introducing a law to ban the practice.”
South Africa won the one-dayer in Jo’burg by 17 runs and levelled the three-match series 1-1, having lost the previous ODI.
The series decider will be held at the SuperSport Park in Centurion on Wednesday (April 7).