‘Obstructing the Field’ vs ‘Handling the Ball’: Explained in detail

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    ‘Obstructing the Field’ vs ‘Handling the Ball’ : Cricket, with its labyrinth of rules, occasionally throws fans and players into a state of bewilderment. The recent rare dismissal of Bangladesh’s Mushfiqur Rahim for ‘obstructing the field’ in the second Test against New Zealand has sparked questions about the difference between this mode of dismissal and the seemingly similar ‘handling the ball’.

    Let’s have a look into more details : ‘Obstructing the Field’ vs ‘Handling the Ball’

    In a recent cricketing saga, Mushfiqur Rahim found himself at the center of attention when he was declared out for ‘obstructing the field’ during the Bangladesh vs New Zealand Test. This unique dismissal left many fans pondering why it wasn’t categorized as ‘handling the ball’. The answer lies in the intricate details of the laws of cricket, particularly the amendments made in 2017 by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).

    The MCC, custodians of cricket laws, revised the rules in 2017, unifying ‘handling the ball’ with ‘obstructing the field’. Mushfiqur Rahim’s dismissal is a result of this merger.

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    Key Differences

    1. ‘Obstructing the Field’: As per MCC Law 37.1.2, a batsman is out obstructing the field if, during the act of receiving a ball delivered by the bowler, they wilfully strike the ball with a hand not holding the bat. This includes playing at the ball or striking it more than once in defense of the wicket.
    2. ‘Handling the Ball’: Historically, this was a distinct mode of dismissal. However, the 2017 revision absorbed it into ‘obstructing the field’. Handling the ball involved a batsman intentionally touching the ball with a hand not holding the bat while it was in play.

    Rahim’s use of his hand to prevent a ball from reaching the stumps fell under the umbrella of ‘obstructing the field’. This decision marks him as the first Bangladesh player to be dismissed in this peculiar manner. Interestingly, only eleven batters, including Rahim, have been given out for handling the ball in international cricket.

    It’s worth noting that, unlike other dismissals, the bowler does not receive credit for a wicket in cases of obstructing the field. In Rahim’s instance, Kyle Jamieson’s name won’t be etched as the dismissive force.

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    The decision to consolidate ‘handling the ball’ into ‘obstructing the field’ aimed to simplify the mode of dismissals, as the former essentially fell under the latter. The MCC clarified that the change was not about altering the dismissal outcome but streamlining the categorization.


    As cricket enthusiasts continue to navigate the nuances of the game, Mushfiqur Rahim’s unprecedented dismissal adds another layer to the rich tapestry of cricketing history. In the end, it’s the constant evolution of rules that keeps cricket a dynamic and captivating sport.

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