Quinton de Kock distracts Fakhar Zaman to run him out - What does the ICC rule state?

Quinton de Kock distracts Fakhar Zaman to run him out – What does the ICC rule state?

If in case the umpires feel that the fielder has "caused or attempted to cause such a distraction", they are empowered to inform both the captains and subsequently award a 5-run penalty to the guilty side.

Quinton de Kock and Fakhar Zaman
Quinton de Kock and Fakhar Zaman. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Records tumbled at Wanderers in the second ODI between Pakistan and South Africa as Fakhar Zaman scripted a rearguard for the ages despite having little to no support from the other end in a whopping chase of 342. Down and out during the chase against the might of South Africa’s searing pace and nagging lines, Pakistan seemed all but lost at 120/5 in the 25th over.

Although refusing to give up from one end was Zaman, hell-bent to take his side home and seal the series at the earliest occasion. In one incredible mayhem, he marauded 18 boundaries and 10 sixes during his sensational 155-ball 193, which in all fairness seemed a certain double century on the cards given the mood he was in.

That it did not happen was due to a rather despairing end to a nearly chanceless knock as Zaman failed to make his ground after he opted to go for a double off Andile Phehlukwayo’s first delivery in the final over, with Pakistan still needing an improbable but not impossible 30 to win.

Was Quinton de Kock’s conduct unlawful?

What raised eyebrows in aplenty was the conduct of Quinton de Kock, who deliberately deceived Zaman and led him to believe through his action that the ball thrown from long-on was directed to the bowler’s end, as opposed to the keeper’s, which led a distracted Zaman to look back before completing the run. The delay of the fraction of a second eventually proved costly to both Zaman and Pakistan, as he failed to make his ground and the bails were dislodged, leading into his undoing 7 runs short of a record double-century.

The pertinent question here arises in the context of Law 41 of the Laws of Cricket 2017 (Marylebone Cricket Club) Code, which discusses “Unfair Play”. Law 41.5 of the Code i.e. “Deliberate distraction, deception or obstruction of batsmen” elaborates under 41.5.1 that it is “unfair for any fielder to willfully to attempt, by word or action, to distract, deceive or obstruct, either batsman after the striker has received the ball”.

If in case the umpires feel that the fielder has “caused or attempted to cause such a distraction”, they are empowered to inform both the captains and subsequently award a 5-run penalty to the guilty side. Had that been the case at Wanderers, not only would Zaman been not out but Pakistan would have been awarded 5 runs in their total. Whether or not that would have had any material impact on the result of the game is anybody’s guess, but Quinton de Kock’s action has certainly sparked the hot debate of the spirit of the game again.