Jason Roy was dismissed for 67 from 45 balls against South Africa in the second T2OI and the Proteas went on to win the match by 3 runs. But it is the manner of the dismissal that caught the attention as Roy entered the history books for the wrong reasons – he was adjudged to have obstructed the field of play and become the first dismissal of the kind in T20I cricket.
His exit from the middle was the start of the collapse in England’s chase of 175 runs as both the set batsmen in Jonny Bairstow and Roy were gone in a matter of eight runs.
Allrounder Ben Stokes didn’t hold back in his criticism of Roy for the dismissal. In a tweet he called it ’embarrassing’. “Can’t believe that @JasonRoy20 was given out in that manner today….embarrassment is the only word that can be associated with the decision,” he wrote on Twitter. Ironically, Stokes was the last batsman dismissed in the manner in September, 2015 when he blocked a throw from Mitchell Starc at the batsman’s end. Stokes is being rested for the T20I series in order to get ready for the four-Test series against South Africa that begins from July 6.
Former England cricketers David Lloyd and Michael Atherton, on commentary, reckoned it was a tricky decision to make. The commentators were unsure whether Roy changed his direction while scrambling back to get himself in front of the ball to avoid being run out. “He’s gone across to the other side of the pitch and that’ll be something the umpires take into consideration,” said Lloyd as Atherton said in response, “Whether you can say he got himself deliberately between the ball and the stumps, I’m not sure.”
England captain Eoin Morgan believed it was a 50-50 call for the third umpire to make and it wasn’t the reason the home side lost. “It was not massively controversial. I thought it was a 50-50 call,” Morgan told reporters. “You could see why he gave it out. It did not cost us the game, we still had enough firepower to win it. But we didn’t deserve to. We could not capitalise on the start by Jason (Roy) and Jonny (Bairstow),” he added.
South Africa captain AB de Villiers defended his team’s decision to ask the umpires for a call on the alleged obstruction. “We were in the right to ask the question of the umpires,” de Villiers said post-match. “It’s not an easy decision and it’s never nice to get out like that,” he added.
Another former England captain Alec Stewart though wasn’t entirely convinced about the decision. “Was there 100% proof that Jason Roy obstructed the field on purpose? On field umpire gave soft decision of not out? #controversial” he wrote on Twitter.