It’s probably too early in Steve Smith’s captaincy career to appreciate this but one day he’ll look back at the Ben Stokes dismissal at Lord’s on Saturday and realise he missed a great opportunity to strike a blow for the spirit of cricket.
We’ve all done things on the field that we regret later. I know I certainly have. But it was disappointing that Smith had a chance to make a statement about the way he wants his side to play the game and chose to go the other way.
Don’t get me wrong: winning is important. But the longer you play this game the more you realise that some things are too valuable to spoil.
Brendon McCullum believes Steve Smith will one day look back at the dismissal of Ben Stokes at Lord’s
McCullum thinks it was disappointing because Smith had chance to make a statement about how his side play
According to McCullum Smith showed his immaturity by not withdrawing his appeal during Saturday’s game
Australia captain Smith and England’s Eoin Morgan argue about the Stokes dismissal at Lord’s on Saturday
By not withdrawing the appeal, Smith showed his immaturity. He may live to regret it.
I say that from experience, not because I want to have a pop at Smith. There was a Test match where I ran out Muttiah Muralitharan while he was celebrating his partner Kumar Sangakkara’s hundred. I’d have done that differently now.
But I do wonder how Michael Clarke would have handled the situation had he still been in charge. I’m pretty sure he’d have withdrawn the appeal. I’m also pretty sure that Eoin Morgan would have done so, too.
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As for the current New Zealand side, I reckon none of us would have appealed in the first place.
I’m not trying to set us up as being holier-than-thou. I just know how much we’ve discussed the way we want to play the game. Something would have told us that appealing for obstructing the field in those circumstances wasn’t right.
WHO ELSE FELL FOUL OF LAW 37?
ENGLAND’S Len Hutton is the only man to be out ‘obstructing the field’ in a Test, at The Oval against South Africa in 1951. Stokes is the first England player to be given out this way in an ODI and the sixth ever, joining FOUR Pakistanis:
Ramiz Raja (Pak) v England, Karachi, Nov 20, 1987.
Mohinder Amarnath (Ind) v Sri Lanka, Ahmedabad, Oct 22, 1989.
Inzamam-ul-Haq (Pak) v India, Peshawar, Feb 6, 2006.
Mohammad Hafeez (Pak) v South Africa, Durban, Mar 21, 2013.
Anwar Ali (Pak) v South Africa, Port Elizabeth, Nov 27 2013.
My instant reaction when I saw the dismissal was that Stokes was trying to protect himself. The slow-motion replays become irrelevant, because it was a split-second decision by him to stick his glove out.
The fact that the ball hit him in the meat of the hand doesn’t look good. But if he’s good enough to stop the ball from a few yards away with his head turned, he’s playing a different game to the rest of us!
I found it odd that two experienced on-field umpires felt the need to go upstairs to their TV colleague, especially after they’d signalled that they thought Stokes was not out. The protocol will need looking at.
But in a sense none of that matters. What is more important is the way cricket is played. And I felt Smith got it wrong.
The key for England now is not to get too emotional about the whole thing. I remember an incident at The Oval in 2008, when we were fuming about the run-out of Grant Elliott, who had been knocked to the ground by Ryan Sidebottom.
Australia look on as Morgan (C) and Smith exchange words with umpire Kumar Dharmasena on Saturday
Ben Stokes vents his anger after being given out for obstruction after Mitchell Starc threw the ball at the wicket
We obviously felt an injustice had been done but looking back we didn’t cover ourselves in glory with the way we celebrated on the balcony after we won the game off the last ball.
Our emotions got the better of us and it’s up to Morgan now to make sure England move on and focus on Tuesday’s game in Manchester.
As for Australia, they may look back one day and ask themselves whether it was really worth it. I don’t believe it was.