Harris punished for criticising obstructing-the-field call

Ryan Harris looks on Getty Images

Ryan Harris, the former Australia fast bowler and now coach, has been reprimanded and handed a suspended fine of A$3,000 (US$ 2300 approx) for voicing his displeasure at the obstructing-the-field decision made against Alex Ross when playing for Brisbane Heat against Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League.

In a series of tweets, Harris let fly at the umpiring decision resulting in Ross' dismissal, a moment that the Heat captain Brendon MCullum later blamed on his opposite number George Bailey for failing to withdraw his appeal. Cricket Australia has subsequently defended the decision, while the Queensland Cricket chief executive Max Walters has questioned why the board was so eager to worry about technicalities over the wider appeal of the game.

"Ryan Harris, CA High Performance coach, has been charged for breaching the CA Code of Conduct on 10 January 2018, in relation to a number of tweets he sent about the KFC Big Bash League match featuring Brisbane Heat and Hobart Hurricanes," a spokesman said. "Harris was reported for breaching CA's Code of Conduct Article Level 2.2.3 - public or media comment that is detrimental to the interests of cricket, irrespective of when or where such comment is made.

"Every player and any player support personnel are required to adhere to Cricket Australia's Code of Conduct. This includes any person employed by, contracted to, representing or otherwise affiliated to CA or any State or Territory Association or BBL/WBBL team. The proposed sanction was a reprimand and fine of $3,000, fully suspended, subject to Harris not being found guilty of any further breach of the Cricket Australia Code of Conduct for a period of 24 months from 10 January 2018."

There has been mounting discontent among players about numerous umpiring decisions during the BBL, at the same time as a surfeit of teams are penalised for slow over rates, including the Hurricanes and Perth Scorchers on Friday. However CA has stood by the third umpire Simon Lightbody and the on-field umpires Geoff Davidson and Simon Fry, who has also stood in seven Tests, 38 ODIs and 12 T20Is.

"The dismissal of Alex Ross from Brisbane Heat saw the batsman change direction, turn to watch the direction of the throw and run on the pitch," a spokesman said. "The third umpire concluded that the change of running direction of the batsman, after seeing the direction of the throw, obstructed the wicketkeeper's opportunity to affect the run-out.

"Obstructing the field is one of the more difficult decisions to interpret as it is based on umpires assessing the intent of the batsman. After assessing footage of the incident alongside the Laws, playing conditions, and cues that umpires are provided, CA believes the obstructing-the-field decision is justified."

Walters has said that while the Heat accepted the decision, he wondered at CA's priorities. "The umpire is always right and we congratulate the Hurricanes on their victory," he said. "It's time to move on. But we need to understand clearly that mum, dad and the kids are interested in being entertained, not subjected to a forensic examination of the rule book."

For his part, Ross has explained that he was not intending to block the throw but to avoid being hit by the ball. "You must always respect the umpires decision, but I wanted to clear the air and state my intentions in the run last night," he wrote on Twitter. "I can unequivocally say I was trying to run away from the line of the ball to avoid being hit, as I felt I was going to make my ground."