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Cricket for beginners

With new audiences switching on to cricket because of a gripping Ashes series, questions have been raining in asking about the particular quirks of the game.

So we thought we would set the ball rolling by answering some of your queries.

Q: Can a batsman switch from batting right-handed to left-handed? Can the bowler do the same thing with their bowling hand?

There is nothing in the laws of the game to stop the batsman from changing their batting style.

A popular stroke in one-day cricket is the reverse sweep, where a right-handed batsman hits the ball like a left-handed batsman would and vice versa.

However, if the bowler wants to do the same, they must inform the umpire they are changing their bowling style.

The umpire must tell the batsman which arm the bowler will use to bowl, as well as which side of the wicket - 'over' or 'round' the wicket - they are coming from.

If the bowler changes his delivery style without informing the umpire, the umpire will call a no ball, adding a penalty run to the batting team's total.

Q: I've seen fielding teams leaving a helmet for the close-in fielder behind the wicket-keeper. But what happens if the ball hits the helmet?

If the ball hits the helmet, the batting side automatically receive five penalty runs which will be added onto their total in the extras section.

Q: Why don't LBW appeals go to the video umpire?

The video umpire can only make decisions on run-outs, stumpings or catches which the on-field umpires are unsure were taken cleanly.

LBW decisions can only be made by the two umpires on the pitch.

However, the International Cricket Council, the sport's governing body, ran an experiment to refer LBW decisions to the third umpire during the 2002 ICC Champion's Trophy in Sri Lanka.

But the ICC decided not to go ahead with the change.

The subject of referring LBW appeals to the third umpire was raised again during the third Ashes Test when Australian batsman Damien Martyn was given out leg before after the ball had first struck the inside edge of his bat.

Q: Can you bowl under-arm? Can you bowl the ball all along the ground?

The laws of the game say: "Under-arm bowling shall not be permitted except by special agreement before the match."

So unless there is a prior agreement, the umpire will call a no ball if an under-arm ball is delivered, adding a penalty run to the batting side's total and another legitimate delivery must be bowled.

The umpire will also call a no ball if the ball rolls all along the ground.

This ruling was introduced after an infamous incident in 1981 when New Zealand needed six runs to tie the game off the last ball of a one-day match against Australia in Melbourne.

The then Australia captain (now India coach) Greg Chappell asked his brother Trevor to bowl the ball under-arm all along the ground to batsman Brian McKechnie.

Needless to say, New Zealand did not win the match.

Q: Can a runner be used all the time for a batsman who is not very good at running?

A runner is a player from the batting team who literally runs for an injured batsman.

But they can only be used if a player who they are running for has been injured during the course of a match.

The batting team must receive permission from the umpire to use a runner and they must wear exactly the same protective equipment as the player they are running for.

Q: Can the wicket-keeper take their pads off and bowl?

Yes, they do not need permission from the umpire or opposing captain to do so.

Q: Can a player kick the ball over the boundary?

Yes, but the batsman will also receive the runs they have run before the ball was kicked over the boundary.

So for example, if the batsman are in the process of running for a third run and have crossed when the ball was kicked over the boundary, the striker will receive seven runs.

Q: How many times can the ball bounce before it reaches the batsman?

The ball can only bounce a maximum of twice before it reaches batsman - any more than that and the umpire will call a no ball and another legitimate delivery must be bowled.



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