Len Hutton Out in Rare Incident: Obstructing the Field
Len Hutton was out in a rare incident: he obstructed the field. For the first time in the history of test cricket, a player, Len Hutton, was given out for “obstructing the field.” The rare incident occurred in England’s second innings against South Africa at the Oval on Saturday. He made 27 runs in the fifth and final test. There are only five known cases in first-class cricket.
Len Hutton attempted to sweep the ball but did not connect properly, and the ball rose only to the height of his head. He did not move his body, but as the ball started to drop, he stepped back slightly and flicked his bat at it. This may have put the wicketkeeper, Endean, off in attempting to take the catch, and at least one of the South Africans fielding near the wicket appealed. Umpire Dai Davies, after considering a moment, gave Hutton out.
Len Hutton said afterward: “I tried to sweep, but the ball struck me on the top of the left glove, ran up my arm, and the next thing I saw it in front of my eyes. I thought the ball might fall on my wicket so I tried to brush it away with the back of my bat. “I was not trying to put the wicketkeeper off, but, of course, I must accept the umpire’s decision.”
Len Hutton was quite entitled to hit the ball twice to guard his wicket, but apparently, his action was construed as a willful attempt to obstruct the field. It is believed to be the first incident of its kind in Test cricket and one of only five known cases in first-class cricket. Although England won the test match by four wickets and the series with three wins (3-1), only one test was drawn.
Recently, Mushfiqur Rahim, the Bangladesh batsman, was dismissed inexplicably on the first day of his team’s first Test match against New Zealand in Mirpur on December 6, 2023, for flicking the ball away after playing a defensive stroke against Kyle Jamieson. Rahim is only the second test batter in history to be dismissed for obstructing the field.