Cricket Australia’s officiating department say officials were correct with their interpretation of an alleged ‘fake fielding’ incident in Hobart’s KFC BBL victory over the Renegades on Thursday night.
Late in the match, Hurricanes in-fielder George Bailey chased a ball towards the boundary and before he had caught up with it, slid on the playing surface as teammate Ben McDermott, who was running in from the boundary, collected and threw it to the wicketkeeper.
Having slid along the turf to avoid McDermott’s throw, Bailey quickly got to his feet before running back to his position.
There is a provision in the game’s laws to penalise a fielding team five runs if umpires determine that a fielder has wilfully distracted the batters.
Law 41.5 states, in part, that “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”.
The law continues that “it is for either one of the umpires to decide whether any distraction, deception or obstruction is wilful or not”.
In addition, the guidance to Australia’s umpires is the law should only be applied when the fielder has “the clear intent to deceive the batsmen”.
In this case, the match umpires were satisfied that Bailey had not wilfully distracted the batters and did not have a clear intent to deceive them, and their interpretation was supported by CA’s officiating department on Friday.
The ‘fake fielding’ regulation was introduced to the game in 2017, with Cricket Australia’s head of cricket operations Peter Roach saying at the time that umpires had been briefed on how to interpret the law.
"What they want to stop is guys getting up and pretending to throw it," Roach told cricket.com.au.
"Players are educated and it's a pretty easy thing to stop. Personally, I don't think it's an attractive part of the game so getting rid of it makes some sense and players will adjust really quickly.
"We had a really good chat with the match officials … on how to adjudicate it. One of their challenges is they're watching the crease for short runs, but we think most of the time (the fake fielding) will be pretty clear and obviously, (the clear ones are) the ones we want to cut down on."
Queensland’s Marnus Labuschagne was the first player penalised under the new law during a JLT One-Day Cup match at the start of last summer.
On that occasion, Labuschagne dived to the turf and, having not been able to stop the ball, got to his feet and faked a throw towards the stumps.
The MCC's Laws of Cricket manager Fraser Stewart said faking to throw, like Labuschagne had done, would incur a five-run penalty under the new law.
He added the act of simply diving to the ground was not an automatic breach and it was up to the umpires to determine if the act of diving had wilfully distracted the batters.
“Where he erred was when he did the fake throw,” Stewart told ESPNCricinfo of the Labuschagne incident.
“This quite clearly led the batsmen to believe that he had indeed stopped the ball.
“If the slide takes place when the fielder isn't close to the ball and it wasn't a genuine attempt to stop it, the umpires will have to decide if they considered the slide to have been an attempt to deceive the batsman.”