NSW batsman Daniel Hughes feared he'd be given out and made to walk in the first over of the Blues' Marsh Cup opener against Tasmania following a bizarre incident. The NSW veteran was facing Riley Meredith on the last ball of the first over when he half pulled away and wafted airily at the delivery, presenting keeper Caleb Jewell with a simple caught behind as Tigers players celebrated.
After the umpire raised his finger, Hughes immediately pointed to a white towel that had dropped from the back of Meredith's pants during the bowler's run-up, indicating it had put him off. As the two umpires conferred, the Kayo Sports commentators said: "He should have just backed away and not played a shot. He shouldn't have swung at the ball.
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"He was well within his rights (to back away) because the white towel can get in the way and not help your vision tracking the ball. He's walked away to leave it but he did play a shot. The counter argument would be he's agreed to take part in the delivery."
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) September 27, 2023
Fans on social media also debated whether the original decision should stand. But after a short discussion, the umpires ruled the delivery a dead ball and allowed Hughes to continue his innings.
The laws of cricket state: "Either umpire shall call and signal dead ball when … the striker is distracted by any noise or movement or in any other way while preparing to receive or receiving a delivery. This shall apply whether the source of the distraction is within the match or outside it."
Daniel Hughes responds after contentious incident
Hughes, who was on four at the time and went on to make 58 as NSW completed an easy six-wicket win, initially feared the worst. He told Yahoo Sport Australia: "When I saw the towel drop my thought was to just back away and I wasn't going to just let the ball hit me so I swung my bat.
"I just said to the umpire that as soon as he drops his towel, I thought the rule was it's a dead ball. I wasn’t confident they were going to call me back at all, but I knew it was a dead ball because I’d seen it happen somewhere else before."
Hughes is back in action for NSW's second Marsh Cup clash against Victoria on Friday. "We are very happy with that start and now have to focus on the next match. It’s a new game, new opposition and new opportunities," he said.
Fair reason but Hughes shouldn't have offered a shot but legally the ball was dead as soon as the towel dropped.
— Aman Patel (@iamamanpatel) September 27, 2023
People saying "What if he hit it for 6...?" Irrelevent. He did n't. He nicked it to the keeper and was caught. The dismissal was then (correctly overturned). Why question a theoretical situation to prove a non existent point?
— james burke (@jamesbu67247626) September 27, 2023
I’ve said this for years, if a bowler wants to wear a towel or anything similar on themselves, if it falls out on run up and they bowl the ball it should be a straight up no ball just as it is if they flick the bails on delivery.
— Wok (@Wokwokwok2222) September 27, 2023
This is out.
Batsmen played at the ball.
— TheUmp (@TheUmp6) September 28, 2023
Towel dropping off just as he is about to bowl it is a definite distraction, so not an unreasonable decision. But at the same time, if he was distracted by this towel he probably just have just pulled away when he saw it drop rather than just facing up to the ball.
— Chris Kettlewell (@ChrisKettlewell) September 27, 2023
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