The dismissal of Ben Stokes, given out obstructing the field, led to quite a big controversy, with the home fans resorting to booing the Aussies after they appealed against the batsman, and the same was upheld by the third umpire on reviewing the replay closely.
Stokes, on 10, drove a ball straight back down the ground, at the bowler Mitchell Starc, who picked the ball cleanly, and flung the ball in the direction of the stumps, realising that the batsman was out of his crease. As the ball came back at him at a quick pace, Stokes put his hand out, and pushed the ball, which was heading in the direction of the stumps, away. The ball wasn’t heading towards him, but whether it was a deliberate attempt or an instinctive reaction, will remain a debate.
Cricwaves view: Although the initial reaction of any batsman when a ball is hit back in his direction is to take evasive action, in Stokes case, the ball was actually away from him, and heading towards the stumps. By the time the ball was thrown back in his direction, Stokes had already moved away from the ‘missile’, and then pushed his hand out, separately to deviate the movement of the ball. Had he not done so, there was every possibility of the ball going on to hit the stumps considering the angle at which it was heading, and the direction, as observed from the replays.
This is not to say that Stokes deliberately stuck his hand out to prevent the ball from hitting the stumps. It could still have been an instinctive reaction, as it was with Steve Waugh during the famous 2001 Eden Gardens Test. But, even so, it was a clear case of ‘obstructing the field’.
What the captains had to say
Eoin Morgan certainly wasn’t pleased, and went to the extent of saying that his team would have done things otherwise. “The guy throws the ball in your direction from five yards, and all you can do is flinch. He was given out. It would have been a lot different if we were fielding. I think it was a natural reaction to protect himself as much as anything else. My interpretation of it was that his reaction wasn't deliberate. Kumar told me that they didn't think it was out, and the third umpire has disagreed.”
Steven Smith too backed his team. “Wadey (Matthew Wade) had a good view and said straightaway that he thought the ball was missing Stokes and hitting the stumps, so we appealed and it went upstairs and the umpire gave it out. The way I saw it was that he was out of his ground and he willfully put the hand out, which is rule I've been told, and he got given out by the umpire. The umpires are there to do a job, to make a decision. It went upstairs to the third umpire, and he saw it the same way we saw it, and it was given out.”
--By A Cricket Analyst