County round-up: Ramprakash given out for obstructing the field

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The Independent Online

The former England batsman Mark Ramprakash was embroiled in controversy last night. He was dismissed for obstructing the field as promotion-chasing Surrey won their County Championship match with Gloucestershire at Cheltenham. The 41-year-old could face a penalty for dissent after appearing to take issue with umpires George Sharp and Nigel Llong, having become only the 23rd batsman in the history of first-class cricket – and the first in England for 48 years – to be given out for contravening Law 37 in the Laws of Cricket.

Law 37 allows an umpire the discretion to dismiss a batsman if he 'wilfully obstructs or distracts the opposing side by word or action'.

Ramprakash, who made a century in the first innings, had scored 35 as Surrey chased a target of 184. He suffered his fate as the non-striker after his partner, Jason Roy, had called him for a second run. Umpire Sharp, after consulting his colleague, Llong, judged that Ramprakash had obstructed Gloucestershire's Ian Saxelby, who was trying to collect a throw from Kane Williamson as the pair attempted to run Ramprakash out.

Ramprakash, unusually, appeared to be holding his bat out in front of him at chest height, when normal practice for a batsman attempting to reach safety is to run the bat along the ground, because he is deemed to be 'home' if any part of the bat, so long as he is still holding it, is behind the crease.

Plainly bemused, Ramprakash, who won 52 Test caps and who has scored more than 35,000 first-class runs in a career spanning almost a quarter of a century, spoke to the umpires twice before he finally left the field. Any batsman who does not accept a decision immediately runs the risk of being penalised for dissent.

Chris Adams, Surrey's cricket manager, was equally stunned by the decision. 'It was a big call by the umpire for something that looked pretty innocuous,' Adams said. 'I spoke to Mark and he is very upset, obviously. He is disappointed that the umpires felt that he wilfully obstructed the field and from what I saw I cannot say honestly that that was the case.

'There are some Laws that are open to debate on what you see. Unfortunately when the umpires see it one way and the rest of us see it another way you end up with this debate but the fact is that the umpire is always right and unfortunately for Mark he had to go.'

Ramprakash is the first player to be given out for obstructing the field in England since Khalid 'Billy' Ibadulla, who was playing for Warwickshire against Hampshire at Coventry in 1963.

Surrey still won by two wickets; they move up to fourth place in Division Two, closing the gap on second-placed Gloucestershire to four points. The leaders, Northamptonshire, failed by nine runs to reach a target of 149 to beat Glamorgan at Swansea.