England v Australia ODIs
McCullum criticises Smith over Stokes affair
New Zealand skipper says Smith may 'live to regret' appealing for Stokes' dismissal
8 September 2015, 07:17 AM AEST
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum says his Australian counterpart Steve Smith "missed a great opportunity to strike a blow for the spirit of cricket" in his handling of the Ben Stokes controversy.
England allrounder Stokes became just the seventh batsman in the history of international cricket to be out obstructing the field during the second one-day international at Lord’s on Saturday, after he deflected the ball away from the stumps with his hand when Mitchell Starc tried to run him out.
Stokes dismissal still the hot topic in Manchester
McCullum suggested Smith should have withdrawn the appeal against Stokes, believing the Englishman was protecting himself and not trying to prevent the ball from hitting the stumps.
Quick single: Stokes given out obstructing the field
"It's probably too early in Steve Smith's captaincy career to appreciate this but one day he'll look back at the Ben Stokes dismissal at Lord's on Saturday and realise he missed a great opportunity to strike a blow for the spirit of cricket," McCullum wrote in his column for the Daily Mail.
"We’ve all done things on the field that we regret later. I know I certainly have. But it was disappointing that Smith had a chance to make a statement about the way he wants his side to play the game and chose to go the other way.
"Don’t get me wrong: winning is important. But the longer you play this game the more you realise that some things are too valuable to spoil.
"By not withdrawing the appeal, Smith showed his immaturity. He may live to regret it."
Watch: Smith and Morgan comment on the Stokes run-out
McCullum said he was not taking a "holier-than-thou" approach to the controversy, adding he was speaking from experience.
"There was a Test match where I ran out Muttiah Muralitharan while he was celebrating his partner Kumar Sangakkara’s hundred. I’d have done that differently now," McCullum wrote.
Quick single: Captains, cricket world divided over controversy
Former England captain Michael Vaughan also weighed into the issue, saying while he did not believe Smith did anything wrong by appealing, the dismissal would set a precedent.
"Steven Smith did not do anything wrong in appealing for the dismissal of Ben Stokes but the incident has set a precedent and I would now be telling my bowlers to throw it back at the batsman if they get a chance," Vaughan wrote in his column in the Telegraph.
"If the ball strikes a hand, glove or bat then it will have to be out. I think we will see it happening more and more, particularly in an era when players are being aggressive and trying to advance down the pitch or throw the ball at a batsman to try and intimidate him.
"Smith is a young captain desperate to win his first series as well as look tough and hard.
"A more experienced captain five years into the job would probably have called Stokes back but when you first start you do not want to show any sign of weakness, and after losing the Ashes, Australia want to give England a good hiding in the one-dayers."
Watch: Smith defends Stokes ruling
After the match, Smith defended the decision to appeal.
“Wadey (wicketkeeper Matthew Wade) had a good view of it behind the stumps,” Smith said.
“He said straight away that he thought the ball was missing Stokesy (Stokes) and it was going to hit the stumps.
“So he appealed and we went upstairs and the umpire gave it out.
“The way I saw it was he was out of his ground and he wilfully put his hand out, which is the rule I’ve been told, and he got given out by the umpire.”
George Bailey said he would have done the same in Smith's position.
"I thought 'Smudger' worked through it really logically," Bailey said.
"I'm 100 per cent sure the discussion in the middle (among the Australian players) was if the ball wasn't going to hit the stumps we wouldn't have appealed."
Stokes has remained adamant he did not intentionally block Mitchell Starc's throw at the stumps.
"A guy was standing there five feet away from me and it was just a complete reaction," Stokes told ESPNcricinfo.
"I didn't put my hand there wilfully, it was purely out of human reaction to protect myself. But the decision was made, there's nothing I can do but it wasn't wilful whatsoever."