In 2017, the International Cricket Council (ICC) reacted strongly to fake fielding, the act of gamesmanship from a fieldsman tricking a batsman into making a mistake while running. Slotted into the ‘unfair play’ category, the ICC’s new law 41.5 concerned deliberate distraction, deception or obstruction of batsman.
The governing body stated clearly in Law 41.5.1 of its playing conditions, “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.”
Additionally, the ICC made the fielding team liable for a five-run penalty if the on-field umpires found them to be offenders of Law 41.5.1. The ICC further tightened up the scrutiny on such fake fielding by incorporating in the laws that the delivery on which such an act is observed wouldn’t count. None of the batsmen in play can be dismissed and would, in fact, be able to take the runs completed before the fielding offence.
“Any runs completed by the batsmen before the offence shall be scored, together with any runs for penalties awarded to either side. Additionally, the run in progress shall be scored whether or not the batsmen had already crossed at the instant of the offence,” reads of Law 41.5.8 of the ICC playing conditions.
However, either side to when ICC’s new law came into being, there were and have been multiple instances of fake fielding in the game, internationally as well as domestically. And so today, we recall ten such instances from competitive cricket.
WATCH: 10 Instances Fielders Attempted Fake Fielding
1. Marnus Labuschagne
This was the first-ever instance of the fake fielding law resulting in a five-run penalty. Playing for Queensland in a List A domestic match against Cricket Australia (CA) XI back in 2017, fieldsman Marnus Labuschagne proved to be the offender.
Labuschagne dived to try and saved a single aimed by the batsman towards the mid-off region. However, even though he missed the ball, Labuschagne gestured towards the striker’s end as if he has collected it and is about to throw.
The on-field umpires, alert to the situation, discussed the matter and immediately made a five-run penalty on Queensland, adding those to CA XI’s total. The incident triggered debates around the world but was an example of on-field umpires implementing the stated law perfectly.
2. Rohit Sharma
During an ODI played in Rajkot between Australia and India in January 2020, home team vice-captain Rohit Sharma made an offence to the fake fielding law but escaped the umpire’s attention and therefore, the penalty.
Labuschagne, who was at the striker’s end, scooped Indian wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav towards the fine-leg region where the placed fielder collected the ball and thew it to wicketkeeper KL Rahul.
All was normal about the delivery until on close replays Rohit was seen to have fake fielded a throw in the area in-between the actual fielder and the striker’s end. Rohit acted as if he has the ball in his right hand and is throwing the ball towards Rahul.
— Kumar Sourav (@AdamDhoni1) January 18, 2020
However, India and Rohit were let-off in the instance without any penalty imposed, despite Labuschagne seemingly gesturing about the fielder’s offence to the square-leg umpire.
3. Kane Richardson
The next instance of fake fielding and offending the ICC law is also from that Rajkot one-dayer but via Australian fieldsman Kane Richardson.
During the ninth over of the Indian innings earlier in the day, opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan charged for a single after hitting the ball left to Richardson, who had delivered a full ball near his arc.
The bowler was quick on his feet and instantly charged towards the short mid-wicket area. Dhawan, and his batting partner Rohit, however, were alert enough to complete the run as Richardson failed to collect the ball.
But, as it happened, Richardson made a fake throw to the bowler’s end, much to the amusement of Rohit who offered a smile. The on-field umpires probably didn’t notice Richardson’s offence and let the instance go without imposing a five-run penalty on Australia.
4. Manish Pandey
Next up on the list is Manish Pandey’s largely unnoticed offence during India’s T20I series on the 2020 tour of New Zealand.
The match in Auckland saw Manish over-running a ball aimed towards the long-on region where he was placed.
However, instead of immediately going back to collect the ball, Manish faked a throw to the playing area where two New Zealand batsmen were trying to get across for a two.
Btw – the video was removed by twitter because of an apparent copyright breach. I see that I didn't attribute it properly.
This was recorded on my phone off the TV from @skysportnz.
This short segment is used for news purposes, and as such it's fair use under the Copyright Act. pic.twitter.com/4YX3yTqUXo
— Michael Wagener (@Mykuhl) January 28, 2020
But, as in the cases of Rohit and Richardson, Manish’s offence of the ICC fake fielding law went unnoticed by the umpires, who didn’t impose any penalty of runs on the Indian team.
5. Jonny Bairstow
During the Ashes 2019, England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow faked an attempt to hit the stumps and forced Australia’s Steve Smith to dive in order to save his wicket even when he didn’t have the ball in his hands.
The ball, instead, was in the hands of pacer Jofra Archer who collected it in the air after a throw from the long-on region.
Bairstow’s gamesmanship, however, went unnoticed or wasn’t treated as a direct offence of the ICC fake fielding law as there was no five-run penalty imposed on England.
Jonny Bairstow scared steve smith & made him dive to prevent himself from getting runout. Just one problem, bairstow did not even have the ballpic.twitter.com/L3h2wfAVZI
— RaWon 🇮🇳 (@I2hav_voice) September 14, 2019
6. MS Dhoni
The great Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s game-awareness is world-renowned. Dhoni, the former India captain, was also involved in an instance of fielding trickery once but it came before the ICC law was established in 2017.
Captaining Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in a match against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the inaugural season of the IPL back in 2008, Dhoni gave an outstanding example of his intelligence when he made sure KKR lose their more organised batter Laxmi Ratan Shukla and not tailender Ishant Sharma in a run-out.
Dhoni collected the ball from behind the stumps after Shukla shaped up to cut a full-pitched ball from paceman Joginder Sharma but missed it. Ishant tried to run across for a single in the nick of time but Shukla denied it, wanting to farm the strike in closing the stage of the innings.
In the meantime, Dhoni threw the ball to Joginder but asked him to wait before he dislodged the stumps because he saw both Shukla and Ishant together outside the crease near the striker’s end. It wasn’t until Dhoni was sure that Ishant has run past Shukla that he asked Joginder to hit the stumps at the non-striker’s end. It meant that KKR lost Shukla and not Ishant, as CSK wanted.
2008 IPL. CSK v KKR at Chennai. MS Dhoni shows his well known presence of mind in what turned out to be a very interesting run out. How many of you remember this? pic.twitter.com/Iz8qA0lhRd
— Mainak's Cricket Pics 🏏📷 (@cric_pictures) April 4, 2021
7. Lewis McManus
A Vitality T20 Blast fixture in 2019 between Hampshire and Surrey saw a rare sort of stumping instance involving wicketkeeper Lewis McManus.
Hampshire’s leg-spinner Mason Crane delivered a ball which Surrey batter Laurie Evans missed as he went about swinging his bat hard. At that point, McManus’ collection behind the stumps seemed all normal despite a slight hiccup as he only grabbed hold of the ball on the second attempt.
Seeing that Evans has his back leg inside the batting crease, McManus went about throwing the ball to the bowler. But just then, he saw Evans curiously taking a few steps outside the crease as if to run across for a single and quickly dislodged the stumps. Hampshire claimed the stumping and Surrey’s Evans was given out.
McManus wasn’t as much tricking Evans as he was alert of the situation and earned his team a wicket with sheer game awareness.
👀 WOW WOW WOW 👀
— Vitality Blast (@VitalityBlast) July 24, 2019
8. Kumar Sangakkara
This one’s a classic. Sri Lanka’s batting legend Kumar Sangakkara played a fielding trick on Pakistan batsman Ahmed Shahzad during an ODI played in Dubai back in 2015.
The instance came two years before the ICC law on fake fielding was established and so there was no case for any penalty.
Ahmed lofted leg-spinner Seekkuge Prasanna for a shot in the area wider to the traditionally placed long-on and ran across for a two with his partner Misbah-ul-Haq.
However, just when he would’ve thought it’s a near formality before he completed the second run, Ahmed had to speed up as he saw Sangakkara gesturing as if he has the ball in his hand and is about to dislodge the stumps.
The batsman dived to save his wicket, realising only later that Sangakkara hadn’t even got the ball when he reached back at the striker’s end.
Sangakkara joked a lot with Ahmed Shehzad, 🙈
— Mukhtiar Latif 🇵🇰 (@Mukhtia70107954) July 13, 2020
9. Steven Mullaney
This was an instance where a team paid heavily for fake fielding from one of their fieldsmen. Nottinghamshire fielder Steven Mullaney’s fake fielded breached the ICC law and cost Leicestershire a tightly contested Vitality T20 Blast fixture in 2020.
Mullaney simulated the action of sliding and grabbing the ball in a manner which on-field umpires Nick Cook and Paul Pollard deemed to be the one that is aimed to deceive the two Leicestershire batsmen at the crease.
The fake dive resulted in a five-run penalty on Nottinghamshire at the start of Leicestershire’s run-chase where they had their eyes set on achieving the 163-run target.
The batting team eventually reached home and kept their T20 Blast quarter-final hopes alive.
10. Quinton de Kock
This is the latest instance of fake fielding seen, with South African wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock aiding the run-out of Pakistan batsman Fakhar Zaman via some gamesmanship in the field in the second ODI in Johannesburg on Sunday (April 4).
Zaman was run out through ‘fake fielding’ from Proteas’ gloveman de Kock, who pointed his finger towards pacer Lungi Ngidi even as the throw from fieldsman Aiden Markram came at the wicketkeeper’s end and directly hit the stumps.
As he neared to completing the second run at the striker’s end, Zaman slowed down presuming that the ball is in Ngidi’s hand. But as it happened, he fell short of the crease and Pakistan went on to lose the match by 17 runs.
Zaman, who batted terrifically for his knock of 193, was Pakistan’s last hope of achieving the 342-run target. But his dismissal, borne out of obvious trickery from de Kock, ended all chances of a Pakistani victory.
But de Kock’s fake fielding effort didn’t result in any runs penalty on South Africa as the two on-field umpires curiously let it go. When Zaman should’ve remained unbeaten at the crease, he had to walk back to the pavilion.
Fully convinced that this is against 41.5.1. Wonder what @ICC’s reaction would have been had this happened in a match involving big three teams.
— Faizan Lakhani (@faizanlakhani) April 4, 2021