Cricket

Ben Stokes controversially dismissed in England defeat

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In a game where Australia (309-7) ended up winning quite comfortably by 64 runs on Saturday and taking a 2-0 lead in their latest ODI series against England (245), things could have so different if it wasn't for an incident that has sparked a heated debate between the two teams.

When Ben Stokes joined Eoin Morgan at the crease England were still in a decent position. With England on 141-3 in the 26th over, Stokes nudged a defensive shot back towards bowler Mitchell Stark, who returned the ball viciously. The all-rounder dived to avoid the ball as it hit his arm, seemingly facing the other way.

What happened next confused commentators and fans alike, as no one could quite understand if the Australians were apologising or appealing for obstructing the field, as Stokes was out of his crease. Most spectators came to the conclusion that the decision should be not-out, and not only that, some thought the Aussie captain, Steve Smith, should have withdrawn the appeal.

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But when the third umpire gave the message to send Stokes, who had made ten runs, to the changing rooms, a fierce discussion began on the field, in the commentary boxes and boo's rang out from the Lord's crowd.

It was clear that the batsman was only trying to get out of the way and did not meaningfully obstruct the field and with two talented batsmen at the crease, with plenty of overs left, England may have won the game if Stokes hadn't been given out in such a strange fashion.

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It is only the sixth time a batsman has been dismissed for obstructing the field in the 3861 match history of ODI cricket.

The disagreement between the two captains and teams was obvious after the game. England captain Eoin Morgan told Sky Sports, "It would have been a lot different if we were fielding- I think it is a natural reaction to defend yourself as much as anything else." Asked if he would have recalled the batsman if he was in Steve Smith's position, he replied, "Yes."

But Smith stood his ground and fired back at Morgan by saying, "I think that (Morgan's comments) is a little bit disappointing. The umpires are there to make a decision, it went upstairs to the third umpire and he saw it the same way as we saw it and it was given out."

Morgan and the England team were not the only ones who didn't agree with the decision by the third umpire or with Steve Smith for not withdrawing the appeal. Sir Ian Botham said he was "Baffled" by the decision on Sky Sports.

Former England players Alec Stewart and Paul Collingwood, who was part of a similar incident 2008 also weighed in on the debate and commented on Steve Smith's position. 

Stewart speaking about Steve Smith told Sky Sports, "I think in hindsight, probably, maybe this morning, he will reflect on it that it was the wrong decision (and) he should have retracted that appeal." 

One thing is for sure, the incident has heighten an already strongly fought rivalry and just adds to the two teams next meeting on Tuesday at Old Trafford, Manchester.

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Topics:
England cricket
Cricket
Australia cricket

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