In a recent match against South Africa, Pakistan’s opener Fakhar Zaman made the highest individual score for a chasing team in an ODI — 193 off 155 balls.
But his run-out sparked a conversation on ‘fake fielding’, something that is rarely talked about but is always debatable. As Pakistan lost to South Africa by 17 runs in this match at Johannesburg, many took to Twitter to call out the ‘bad sportsmanship’.
Zaman hit a Lungi Ngidi delivery to Aiden Markram at long-off in the first ball of the 50th over during Pakistan’s chase. As the opener returned for a second run, South Africa’s wicketkeeper de Kock pointed at the bowler.
This gave the impression that the throw was coming to the non-striker end. This threw off Zaman, who slowed down while moving towards the striker’s end. However, the throw was actually aimed at the wicket-keeper. But since Zaman was now strolling to the crease instead of running head on, he was run out.
Pakistan required only 31 runs for victory in the final over, and Zaman had scored his last 90 runs off just 48 deliveries. So should de Kock’s action fall under deception? Singer Momina Mustehsan, among other Twitterati thinks so.
Deception or honest mistake?
The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) is the custodian of the Laws of Cricket. And its 41.5.1 Law states: “It is unfair for any fielder to willfully attempt to – by word or action – distract, deceive or obstruct either batsman after the striker has received the ball.”
A “deliberate attempt to distract striker” also constitutes “unfair play” under clause 41 of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) “Standard Test, ODI and T20I Playing Conditions.”
So taking to the micro-blogging website, Mustehsan tweeted, “Should it not be wrong to purposely distract/trick a player midplay running to the crease? Sad to see unsportsmanlike conduct… @ICC #FakharZaman #PakVsSA
In another tweet, she added, “We all should tweet @ICC to ask for a comment. Is 41.5 a valid law? And if it is, was @FakharZamanLive dismissed unfairly? Cricket is loved and played across the globe. It is important to address this incident to keep it from encouraging deception in future plays #PakvsSA @TheRealPCB #AskICC.”https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?creatorScreenName=etribune&dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-
Umpires are authorised to award the batting team a five-run fake fielding penalty, despite the law being open to interpretation. In fact, till this day, there remains ambiguity about what constitutes as fake fielding.