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In the sport of cricket a no ball is a penalty against the fielding team, usually as a result of an illegal delivery by the bowler. The delivery of a no ball results in one run (or occasionally two, depending upon the competition) to be added to the batting team's score, and an additional ball must be bowled. In addition, the number of ways in which the batsman can be given out is reduced. In twenty20 and recently one-day cricket matches, a batsman receives a 'free hit' on the ball after a 'front foot' no ball (see below). This means the batsman can freely hit the ball with no danger of being out in certain ways. No balls are not uncommon, especially in short form cricket, and fast bowlers tend to bowl them more often than spin bowlers, due to their longer run-up.

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What constitutes a no ball

A no ball may be called for a variety of reasons [1]. Most commonly, it is the result of a bowler breaking one of the first two rules below (a front foot no ball or back foot no ball). Dangerous deliveries (beamers) are another common reason.

While there are a number of bowlers who have been called for throwing, rather than bowling, most notably Muttiah Muralitharan, this remains a relatively uncommon occurrence at the highest levels of cricket. In recent years, a number of bowlers' actions have been investigated for this offense (for instance, Shoaib Akhtar[2]). After the political uproar caused by Muralitharan being repeatedly no-balled in Australia, the common approach now is for the authorities to send bowlers with suspicious actions for investigation and, as necessary, remedial training, rather than have them called for no-balling in the international game, as in the case of, for instance, Ruchira Perera[3] or Harbhajan Singh[4]. Having a bowling action cleared in such an investigation does not always mean the end of the matter, as Muralitharan can attest. The outcome is that throwing (deliberate or not) during a match is unlikely to be called by umpires.

An umpire will rule a no ball under any of the following conditions:

Illegal action by the bowler

  • If the bowler bowls without some part of the front foot (either grounded or raised) behind the popping crease.
  • If the bowler bowls with the back foot not wholly inside the return crease
  • If the bowler throws, rather than bowls, the ball. (See bowling for an explanation.)
  • If the bowler changes the arm with which he bowls without notifying the umpire.
  • If the bowler changes the side of the wicket from which he bowls without notifying the umpire.
  • If the bowler bowls underarm unless this style of delivery is agreed before the match.
  • If the bowler throws the ball towards the striker's wicket before entering the "delivery stride".
  • If the ball does not touch the ground in its flight between the wickets and reaches the batsman at a height above his waist when delivered by a fast bowler (this delivery is called a 'Beamer') or the shoulder when delivered by a slow bowler.
  • If the ball bounces more than twice, or rolls along the ground, before reaching the popping crease at the striker's end.
  • if the ball comes to rest in front of the line of the striker's wicket.
  • (In Test matches) If, for the third or subsequent time in a single over, a ball bounces over the batsman's shoulder.
  • (In one-day matches) If, for the second or subsequent time in a single over, a ball bounces over the batsman's shoulder.

Illegal action by a fielder

  • If the wicket-keeper moves in front of the wicket at the opposite end before the ball passes that wicket or touches the batsman or his bat.
  • If any fielder touches or passes over the pitch before the ball passes the batsman's wicket or touches the batsman or his bat.
  • If, at the instant of delivery, there are more than two fielders, excluding the wicket-keeper, behind the batsman's popping crease and on the leg side. (See Bodyline for an explanation of why this rule exists.)
  • (In one-day matches) If, at the instant of delivery, there are more than five fielders on the leg side.
  • (In one-day matches) If, during the first fifteen overs of a domestic match or the first powerplay of an international match, and at the instant of delivery, there are more than two fielders in the outfield as demarcated by a line marked on the field. In the second and third powerplay of an international match the fielding team is restricted to no more than three in the outfield.

Effects of a no ball

The umpire signals a no ball by holding one arm out horizontally. If the call is for illegal placement of the bowler's feet, the umpire will also shout "No ball", to give the batsman some warning that the ball is an illegal delivery. Depending on the speed of the delivery and the batsman's reactions, the batsman may then be able to play a more aggressive shot at the delivery safe in the knowledge that he cannot be dismissed so easily by a no ball: a batsman may not be given out bowled, leg before wicket, caught, stumped or hit wicket off a no ball. (In some types of short form cricket the batsman may not be out by these methods on the following ball either - such deliveries are known as free hits. These only come into play after a front foot no ball.) However, he can still be dismissed for a run out, handling the ball, hitting the ball twice, or obstructing the field.

A no ball does not count as one of the six balls in an over, but it does count as a ball faced by the batsman.

When a no ball is bowled, a number of runs are awarded to the batting team, the number varying depending on local playing conditions in force. In Test cricket and One Day International cricket the award is one run; in some domestic competitions, particularly one-day cricket competitions, the award is two runs. These runs are scored as extras and are added to the batting team's total, but are not added to any batsman's total. For scoring, no balls are considered to be the fault of the bowler (whether or not it is actually the case), and are recorded as a negative statistic in a bowler's record.

If the batsman hits the ball he may take runs as normal. These are scored as runs by the batsman, as normal. Runs may also be scored without the batsman hitting the ball, but these are recorded as no ball extras rather than byes or leg byes.

If a ball qualifies as a no ball and a wide, the umpire will call it a no ball, rather than a wide.

See also

References








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