What is fake fielding in cricket?

Cricket fake fielding took centre stage when India faced Bangladesh at the 2022 Twenty20 (T20) World Cup. India was on the verge of a knockout spot while Bangladesh were on their way out of the competition. The Men in Blue defended a 151 target after Bangladesh produced a spirited performance against one of cricket’s top sides.

India won the game, but it was not a straightforward victory according to Bangladesh cricketer Nurul Hasan. The cricketer claimed Virat Kohli engaged fake fielding at some point in the encounter, and India should have been penalized for that illegal move.

 “We all saw that it was a wet ground. Eventually, when we talk about these things, there was also a fake throw. It could have been a five-run penalty. That also could have gone our way, but unfortunately, even that didn’t materialise,”

Let’s explore what fake fielding in cricket is and why laws were introduced to curb its use during games.

What is Fake Fielding in Cricket?

Fake fielding in cricket is a deliberate attempt to obstruct, distract, or deceive the batsman of an opposing team. Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne is the first cricketer to ever get penalized for fake fielding in cricket.

What are the Laws Against Cricket Fake Fielding?

Sections 41.5.1 to 41.5.10 clearly states laws against fake fielding in cricket:

41.5.1 It is unfair for any fielder wilfully to attempt, by word or action, to distract, deceive or obstruct either batsman after the striker has received the ball.

41.5.2 It is for either one of the umpires to decide whether any distraction, deception or obstruction is wilful or not.

41.5.3 If either umpire considers that a fielder has caused or attempted to cause such a distraction, deception or obstruction, he/she shall immediately call and signal Dead ball and inform the other umpire of the reason for the call.

41.5.4 Neither batsman shall be dismissed from that delivery.

41.5.5 If an obstruction involves physical contact, the umpires together shall decide whether or not an offence under Law 42 (Players’ conduct) has been committed.

41.5.5.1 If an offence under Law 42 has been committed, they shall apply the relevant procedures in Law 42 and shall also apply each of 41.5.7 to 41.5.9. Law 42 deals with players’ conduct.

41.5.5.2 If they consider that there has been no offence under Law 42 (Players’ conduct), they shall apply each of 41.5.6 to 41.5.10.

41.5.6 The bowler’s end umpire shall award 5 Penalty runs to the batting side, inform the captain of the fielding side of the reason for this action and as soon as practicable inform the captain of the batting side

41.5.7 The ball shall not count as one of the over.

41.5.8 Any runs completed by the batsmen before the offence shall be scored, together with any runs for penalties awarded to either side. Additionally, the run in progress shall be scored whether or not the batsmen had already crossed at the instant of the offence.

41.5.9 The batsmen at the wicket shall decide which of them is to face the next delivery.

41.5.10 The umpires together shall report the occurrence as soon as possible after the match to the Executive of the offending side and to any Governing Body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain, any other individuals concerned and, if appropriate, the team.

Why Was the Fake Fielding Law Introduced?

Cricketers were fond of engaging fake fielding moves before the law prohibiting this practice became common. In the time before this rule was implemented, batters were caught off guard several times, and this meant several wickets falling too. The International Cricket Council (ICC) opted to restrict this practice with new sets of rules that went into effect around 2017.

Fielders still use the fake move to deceive batters, but it’s not an open practice as was done pre-2017. Commentators may say the action doesn’t go against the spirit of cricket, but others argue that it is a misleading move over opposition through unfair means.

Fake fielding in front of umpires will lead to penalties handed down to offending teams. Vigilant umpires and outcry from the misled batter’s team will help draw attention to fake fielding during games. However, Bangladesh failed to point out the fake fielding incident involving Virat Kohli, giving the Indian national team a free pass to claim victory.

What is the Penalty for Fake Fielding?

A 5-run deduction is the common penalty handed down to teams caught engaging in fake fielding. Each fake fielding incident could be enough to cost an offending team the game.