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Cricket for beginners part IV
We've been asking new converts to cricket to send in the questions about the game they don't quite understand.

We have been flooded with almost 1,000 emails - and answered them as best we can. Here is the final batch of answers.

For further queries, try our Academy or the Lord's website. Alternatively, for more detailed questions, email Test Match Special statistician Bill Frindall.


What are the rules for calling a 'no ball'?
Mike Bennett, Epsom, Surrey

There are many circumstances in which an umpire may call a no ball. But the most common is when the bowler's front foot falls beyond the popping crease, which is the front line of the crease. The rules state some part of the foot must be on or behind the front line of the crease.

There are various other examples when the umpire will call a no ball:

If the batsmen run, for example, two on a no ball or wide, does the total increase by two or three runs?
Iain, London

If the batsman has hit a no ball, the total increases by three - two runs against the batsman's total and one extra for the no ball. If he has not hit the no ball, the extras would increase by three.

If he has managed to hit the wide ball - the umpire will not have signalled a wide!

Therefore it would count as two runs. If the ball has been signalled wide, the extras would increase by three.

If both teams play a full first innings then the rest of the match is washed out can there be a result or would the match be drawn?
Al, Manchester

The match would be drawn - but in cricket a draw is still a result!

What is the maximum period given to a bowler in which to bowl a ball?
Timothy, Kampala Uganda

There is no time limit per delivery or over.

But the International Cricket Council, the sport's governing body, has regulations which say a team has to bowl a minimum of 15 overs per hour.

If the required overs are not bowled, they shall be made up on any subsequent day.

When can the new ball be taken?
Fiona, Cumbria.

The captain of the fielding has the choice of taking a new ball any time after 80 overs have been bowled with the previous ball.

However, they are not obliged to take it. England's bowlers have enjoyed plenty of success with the older ball extracting reverse swing.

Do the fielding team have to shout for a batsman to be out?
David Coleman, Farnborough, Hants

Yes, the laws say neither umpire will give a batsman out, even if he is out, unless there is an appeal

However if a batsman chooses to 'walk', that does not apply - although an umpire can call the batsman back if he believes he left his wicket under a misapprehension.

Interestingly, the laws state that an appeal can be made quite late - as long as it is made before the bowler begins his run up or delivery action.

This means in theory if a batsman looks out on the last ball of an over, the fielding side could wait until the bowler is just about to bowl the first ball of the next over before making their appeal.

Please can you explain the difference between bowling 'over' and 'around' the wicket? Thanks and keep up the good work.
Alan, Charminster

The phrases refer to the positioning of the arm at delivery - hence a right-arm bowler will be said to be bowling 'over' the wicket if his arm is nearest to the wicket (ie he is running up to the left of the stumps).

If he runs up and delivers the ball from the right of the stumps, he is said to be bowling 'round' the wicket as his bowling arm is furthest from the wicket.

This is of course reversed for left-arm bowlers.

A bowler must declare his action to the umpire before he starts a spell, and must singal any change to his action.

If a bowler changed his delivery style without telling the umpire, a no ball would be declared.

David, lincoln

When can the third umpire be called on to clarify a decision?
Wayne Clifton, Wrexham

The umpire has the discretion to call upon the third umpire to adjudicate in run-out, stumping and hit-wicket decisions.

He can also refer

  • clean catches, but only if the line of vision of both umpires is obscured
  • bump balls (when it is not clear if the batsman has hit the ball straight in the air or off the ground first)
  • to check if a fielder crossed the boundary rope while fielding and
  • if both batsmen have run to the same end, to see which one is out.
Players may not appeal to the umpire to use the replay system - breach of this provision would constitute dissent and the player could be liable for discipline under the ICC Code of Conduct.

As a guide, a decision should be made within 30 seconds whenever possible, but the third umpire shall have a discretion to take more time in order to finalise a decision.

In the third Test final overs, Glenn McGrath was batting two yards outside his crease. Would it have been considered unsporting behaviour if Geraint Jones had caught a delivery and then thrown down the stumps?

There seemed to be several opportunities for him to do so (thus running out McGrath) but of course he did not attempt to.
Ian, Surbiton

That is allowed in the laws and the spirit of the game, though viewed as an attacking gesture.

If the ball goes through to the wicket-keeper from a delivery, there is an appeal and the batsman is given "not out", can the keeper stump the batsman if he is out of his crease or is the ball dead?
Ajay, London, UK

This one is a bit murky and there appears to be no specific law governing this.

An umpire could interpret that the ball is dead after the appeal - law 23 states that a ball is dead 'when it is settled in the keepers gloves'.

However, the rule goes on to say 'whether the ball is finally settled or not is a matter for the umpire alone to decide', so he may decide it had not settled if the wicketkeeper immediately whipped the bails off.

The umpire could also decide the fielders were deliberately trying to distract the batsman, and call a dead ball.

In the last Test I saw a batsman drop his bat (having been hit on the hand) and make his run without it. Surely this gives him an unfair advantage?

After all, a runner has to be equipped just like the batsman, including carrying the bat while he runs.
Paul, Essex

No, the batsman does not have to carry his bat. But it is generally seen as a disadvantage if the batsman runs between the wickets without his bat.

The bat is an extension of the batsman's body, so the batsman has a greater chance of not being run out if they are sliding their bat in the crease than if they had no bat at all.

Can you stump a batsman with one hand when the ball is in the other, or do you have to use the "ball hand" to knock the bails off?
Simon, Staffordshire

No, the hand or arm holding the ball must be used to take off the bails.

Does the bowler's arm have to be straight when it passes his head, etc?
John Walker, Lancs, UK

Law 24 covers what constitutes a fair delivery but in practice this is a huge grey area which is covered by special regulations.

It says: 'A ball is fairly delivered 'once the bowler's arm has reached the level of the shoulder in the delivery swing, the elbow joint is not straightened partially or completely from that point until the ball has left the hand'.

The new regulations say bowlers are allowed to straighten their arms to 15 degrees.

If the ball lands right on the boundary rope. Does it count as a four or a six?
Sam, Belgium

It is not entirely clear and would depend on the individual ground.

Law 19 says the ball must pitch 'beyond the boundary' for it to be regarded as a six.

If the boundary is a rope, the boundary edge is defined as the inside of the rope - so if it hit the outside edge it would be up to the umpire to decide it has fallen 'beyond the boundary'.

In one of Australia's recent innings, the umpire gave a dead ball as the ball hit the batsman's pads and ran into the field and the umpire adjudged that the batsman hadn't played the ball.

What then is the difference between that and a leg-bye?
Andre, London

The batsman in this case was not offering a shot. Therefore the ball was called dead and no extras were scored. However, had the batsman been playing a shot, any runs would have counted as leg byes.

I often see the batsman on strike having to dodge the bowler as he takes his runs. Does a run-out count if the bowler was in the way?
Ellie, Middx

It is up to the batsman to avoid the bowler - unless the umpire rules that the fielder is deliberately attempting to obstruct the batsman in which case he calls a dead ball and awards five penalty runs.

How many overs are there in a Test Match?
Keith, Euston

A minimum of 90 overs must be bowled each day, except the last day when the figure is 75.

If a batsmen hits a four off a no-ball does he get all 5 runs?
John, London

No, he gets four for the boundary and one run goes onto the extras total.

Is it a legal dismissal if the ball is caught just over the boundary assuming the fielder has not stepped over the boundary rope and the ball had not touched the ground?
Matthew, UK

Yes, The rules say, the catch is legal if no part of the fielder or the ball touches the ground or the boundary.

Is there a cricketing equivalent of red and yellow cards?
Dave, England

Sort of, although the etiquette of cricket dictates this is rarely necessary.

An umpire can warn players to their conduct is he believes they are playing dangerously, unfairly or time-wasting.

If a batsman bats the ball and it hits another part of his body, such as his leg, and is then caught. Is he out?
Neil, Birmingham


If the ball touches the stumps but the bails remain in place, is the batsman out?
Dave, Germany

No. At least one bail must fall off - unless by prior agreement the umpires have decided to play without bails (for instance in very windy conditions) in which case the umpire must be satisfied the stumps have been hit.

What are the numbers under the badge on the players shirts? Dave, Yorkshire

As we understand it, they are following the Australian practice of wearing their individual player number. For instance, Kevin Pietersen is the 626th England Test player.

Can you be caught out off a wide?
> Alex, Reading UK

No. If a batsman manages to hit the ball (in order for it to be caught) - it cannot therefore be a 'wide'!

Playing in a game recently a player hit the ball and soon after completed his 'stumble' onto his stumps. He claimed that he was not out as the ball had crossed the boundary before he dislodged the bails and therefore the ball was 'dead'.

The umpires concurred with him (possibly because they were the opposition's umpires). What is the rule governing this as normally hitting your own wicket would mean you were out?
Terry, Sidcup

Interesting one! We understand that the boundary would count and the batsman remain in - as long as the batsman hit his stumps after the ball had crossed the rope.

The laws state the ball is dead as soon as a boundary is scored.


You've mentioned in many answers about the ball being dead. Can you tell us when a ball is dead and equally, when it is alive.
Sebastian Johnson, Oxford

The ball is dead when:

  • It settles in the hands of the wicket-keeper or bowler
  • A wicket has been taken
  • A boundary has been scored
  • A batsman has played no shot and has completed a run
  • When it is trapped between the batsman and their equipment (eg pads)
  • Lodges in the clothing of the batsman or the umpire
  • Lodges in the helmet worn by a fielder
  • A lost ball is called
  • The umpire calls over or time
  • Penalty runs are awarded

    The ball is active at all other times.

    I am a cricketing virgin and would like to know what is a googly, a yorker and a silly mid-on is?
    Archie, Cardiff

    A googly is a delivery that looks like a leg-spinner but instead of turning away from the batsman, it spins towards them like an off-spinner.

    A yorker is a full delivery that bounces around the batsman's feet - they are very tricky to play.

    Silly mid-on is a position on the leg side very close to the batsman, aligned to where an orthodox mid-on would stand.

    Most positions which are preceded by "silly" are close around the bat.

    What is the Duckword-Lewis method (or whatever way you spell it)?
    Ali Khan, Lahore, Pakistan

    The Duckworth-Lewis method is a mathematical formula to work out results to rain-affected one-day matches. Read more here:

    At what point during each ball and over can the batsman walk out of his crease to pat down rises in the wicket and/or confer with his partner without getting stumped or run-out by the other team?

    Is it a sportsman agreement or rule?
    James, London

    Once the ball is dead, the batsman can wander out of their crease to do a spot of "gardening" or talk to their partner.

    The umpire can also stop the bowler before he reaches the crease if something is bothering the batsman.

    However, the umpires can order the batsman to get back to their crease if they believe they are deliberately holding up play.

    What would happen if the batsman hit the ball towards the umpire and, without the ball touching the ground, the ball got caught up in the umpire's clothing and the fielding side then plucked the ball out and claimed a catch?
    Karl, Virginia, USA

    The catch will not count because the ball becomes dead if it lodges in the clothing of the umpire.

    What do the following bowling terms mean; leg break, off break, googly, flipper, chinaman, leg cutter.
    Brendan, Cambridge

  • off-break/off-spin: A delivery that spins into a right-handed batsman
  • leg-break/leg-spin: A delivery that spins away from a right-handed batsman
  • googly: a delivery that looks like a leg-spinner but instead of turning away from the batsman, it spins into them like an off-spinner.
  • flipper: A ball bowled by a leg-spinner that shoots through and keeps low to the batsman
  • chinaman: A left-arm leg-spin bowler. So rather than spinning the ball away from a right-handed batsman, the ball spins towards them.
  • leg-cutter: A ball bowled by a pace bowler that moves away off the pitch from a right-handed batsman.

    Where does the bowler have to pitch a ball to bowl 'on a length'? Also is there a difference between a 'length' and a 'good length'? Both terms, and others, are used by commentators on Radio 4.
    John, Suffolk, England

    What are the types of duck that a batsman can achieve?
    Mark Harriman, York

    A batsman is out for a duck when they have scored no runs to their individual score. If a batsman is out first ball, it is called a golden duck.

    If a batsman is out for a duck in both innings, it is called a "king pair".

    If a batsman hits the ball high in the air, and while the ball is in flight the two batsmen successfully run and cross over, will a run be added to their score?
    Jay, London

    No, the runs will not count if the batsman has been caught. However, if a batsman is run out, out handled the ball or obstructing the field going for a second run, they will receive the one run for the completed run.

    What is the true description of the 'flipper' as bowled by Shane Warne, and how does it differ from a slider?
    Dave Wilford, Stafford

    Both the slider and the flipper are subtle variations the leg-spinner can bowl.

    Both deliveries are explained here by Shane Warne's mentor Terry Jenner:

    If the game is going through a quiet spell, can the guys standing on the edge of the field (seemingly not doing much) leave and rest or even go for extra practice until they are required again?
    Marky Chandler, Caerphilly

    If only! A match can be played with more or less than 11 players in the squad, but no more than 11 players can be on the pitch at one time.

    So unless there are injuries and no substitute fielders can be found, a team must have all their players fielding on the pitch at all times.

    What is the expression for the start of a cricket game? (e.g. Tee off for golf, kick off for football)
    Bobbie, England

    There isn't a general term really, but the umpire will shout "play" to signify the start of the session to both the batsman and the fielding side.

    The end of the day's play is called stumps.

    A new batman shows the side of the bat to the umpire who says centre. What does this signify?
    Rob Stephenson, Leeds

    The batsman is asking for a "guard", lining up with the stumps and making a mark on the pitch. Batsmen do this so they know the exact whereabouts of the wicket without having to look back all the time.

    Batsman generally call for three types of guard, they are:

  • Middle stump
  • Middle and leg stump
  • Leg stump

    The batsman will present the side of the bat to the umpire to line up with their corresponding call (middle and leg is between the two stumps).



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