As they say – Cricket is a crazy game! It is a game dominated by Numbers and Rules. If you didn’t know already, there are 42 Laws of Cricket with several other sub-rules to each of the 42 main laws! But what makes cricket really crazy is not the number of rules it has but that some of these rules as just simply weird!
So, in today’s post, we look at some of the most weird and unknown cricket rules that exist! Beware – you are about to get “Bamboozled”.
1. Batsman CAN NOT hit the ball twice
I’m sure we sometimes wonder, what if the batsman just didn’t hit the ball as well as he intended to the first time and has an opportunity to hit the ball again to score runs, would he be allowed to do so?
Well, as it turns out, according to the “Law 34” of the cricket laws, a batsman is considered OUT if he/she willfully strikes the ball the 2nd time with his/her bat before it has touched any fielder.
However, there are two notable exceptions to this rule. These are as follows-
A batsman would be considered NOT OUT even after hitting the ball twice if the batsman –
- Strikes the ball the second time in order to return the ball to the fielder. However, in such a scenario, he/she needs to take permission from the fielder before touching the ball with the bat or any part of his body. (See related information in point 13)
- Strikes the ball the second time in order to guard his wickets (preventing the ball from hitting his wickets)
A batsman is allowed to prevent the ball from hitting his wicket using his bat even if he ends up hitting it the 2nd time.
2. Appeal Withdrawal Rule
Now, this is pretty fascinating and yet weird! Under the Law 31.8 of the Laws of Cricket, a captain of the fielding team is allowed to withdraw an appeal after obtaining consent from the umpire who has given the decision to dismiss the batsman.
This basically means that, even if a batsman has been given out by the umpires, the captain, after taking confirmation from the umpire, can withdraw the appeal and ask the batsman to continue!
An interesting instance of such an event took place when India was playing England. Ian Bell was given out on what everyone thought was a boundary. However, replays showed that the ball never touch the ropes and hence was run out. However, Indian Captain MS Dhoni withdrew his appeal and recalled Ian Bell!
Such rules are considered to maintain fair play and spirit of the game of cricket.
In the above incident, Indian team was booed as they walked out of the field for Tea, but cheered for when they walked back in to appreciate fair play!
3. Fake Fielding Rule
This one is quite interesting. The Fake Fielding rule is one of the newer addition to the Laws of Cricket.
This rule is best understood by watching the following video –
As you may have noticed, according to this rule if a fielder, who has not collected the ball properly but his actions give an impression that he has the ball which subsequently prevents the batsman from scoring runs is considered as “fake fielding”. The fielding team can be penalized 5 runs for such behavior.
This rule was designed in order to prevent the fielding teams from fooling the batsman and maintaining fair play.
4. A Batsman CAN NOT be given OUT without an Appeal!
Appealing for a wicket is a common sight in the game of cricket. However, even though a bowler appealing might be quite common, what is not commonly known is that a batsman can not be given out if the fielding team does not appeal!
This is true even if the batsman is actually OUT as per the laws of cricket, but if the fielding team doesn’t appeal, neither of the two umpires can give the batsman out.
The fielding team often appeals even when it may be not out. In fact, if you think of it, there is no apparent reason why a fielding team may not appeal knowing a batsman could be out. Thus, this is an absolutely a rare occurance.
Interestingly, in a match between Australia and India, Umpire Chris Gaffaney almost gave the batsman Cheteshwar Pujara OUT even though no one was appealing for it!
Such incidents do create a few funny moments in the game of cricket. Do watch the interesting video!
5. Penalty Runs for Kicking the Ball over the Boundary!
Cricket has some funny rules! I’m not quite sure why, but if a fielder intentionally kicks the ball over the boundary rope, 5 penalty runs are awarded to the batting team!
Now, this one kind of doesn’t make complete sense to me. If a fielder intentionally kicks the ball outside the boundary, the batting team any way gets 4 runs (at least). Isn’t that a penalty in itself! 😀
There have been instances (some really funny one!) where a fielder has pushed the ball over the boundary by mistake. However, a fielder intentionally pushing the ball over the boundary is extremely rare.
One such instance occurred when India was playing South Africa and Sehwag kicked the ball intentionally over the ropes (watch the video above). As a result, the umpires considered this the violation of the rule and awarded 5 penalty runs to South Africa.
It was the last ball of the over, and the established batsman Hashim Amla wanted to take just 1 run so that he could avoid the last batsman from facing the next over and continue batting. However, Virendra Sehwag decided to intentionally kicked the ball so that the boundary could be given and India could get a chance to get Morne Morkel (a tailender) dismissed.
6. Any Obstacle on the Ground is a Boundary!
(Only if Mutually Agreed by both captains before the Toss)
After reading this rule, you may be wondering, “Why is this rule required, and what kind of obstacles can there BE on a cricket ground!”.
Well, there are plenty of possibilities. But, the most common ones are animals, birds or trees! (yes, you read it right – TREES!!) Let me explain this to you in detail.
If a batsman hits a shot, and the ball gets stopped by a dog or a bird that happens to enter the ground at just the right time, it is not considered a boundary (even though the ball may well have been crossing the boundary line before it got stopped).
However, for fixed obstacles such as a tree, the two captains along with the umpires have to agree to be considered as a boundary.
In case you are wondering, it is NOT considered a six even if the ball hits the tree directly without any bounce. It is only considered a boundary.
Likewise, if a fielder catches the ball directly after it hits the tree, the batsman is considered NOT OUT.
It is rare to see this rule being implemented in modern-day cricket. However, it was not an uncommon sight to have a tree inside the ground in the yesteryears of cricket! This was because a lot of stadiums back in the days were old and build on existing grounds which, sometimes, just happened to have a tree on it!
St. Lawrence Cricket Ground in Cantebury, Kent in England is was one of the most famous grounds to host international cricket matches that had a tree in it! Unfortunately, in 2005, the tree broke in to two pieces due to high winds. It has been replanted since, but outside the boundary ropes.
7. Ball Obstructed in the Air due to an Object is considered a “Dead Ball”
According to the laws of cricket – if a batsman hits the ball in the air and it hits an obstacle while the ball is still in the air, such a delivery will be considered a “Dead Ball” and will not be counted. No runs will be counted and a batsman can not be out in such an event.
Now, this is what perplexes me – why is it that a ball is considered a dead ball when it hits an object in the air, but it continues to remain a legal delivery when it hits an object on the ground! That’s insane!
You may be wondering, “how a ball can be obstructed in the air?”. Well, in modern day cricket, if the ball hits the spyder cam (also known as the fox cam), or if the ball hits the roof of a stadium, then the ball is considered a dead ball.
In another incident, Glenn Maxwell of Australia managed to hit the Fox Cam accidentally when trying to hit a six. Watch the full video here (the link will open in a new tab)
8. Handling the Ball!
Wait, don’t just skip this rule yet. I’ll tell you exactly why this is a weird rule in just a minute!
Most of you may already be knowing that a batsman can be given out handling the ball. For those who don’t – if a batsman uses his hand to stop the ball from hitting the wickets, the batsman will be considered OUT handling the ball.
There have been quite a few such instances where a batsman was given out in such a way even though it is a rare sight. You can watch the following video that explains the handling the ball rule with a few interesting examples from the past –
Now comes the part why this rule is weird – As per the rules, the batsman is allowed to protect his wickets. This means, he can use just about any part of his body, pads, helmet or even the bat to prevent the ball from hitting the stumps. He CAN EVEN USE HIS HAND, but the batsman can not use the hand that is not holding the bat!
This basically means, if a batsman defends the ball and continues to hold the bat with both the hands, and just happens to deflect the ball using any one of his hand while still holding the bat with both the hands, the batsman will NOT be given out!
THAT is weird!
9. Change of Position of Umpire at Striker’s End
I found this one very interesting!
Most of us may already know that the Umpire at the Striker’s end (also known as the Leg Umpire), mostly stands on the leg side of the pitch.
This may also be common knowledge that the leg umpire also has an option to stand on the off side of the pitch if their view is hindered by any means.
However, if the leg umpire chooses to do so, he needs to inform the captain of the fielding team, the batsman at the strikers end and the other umpire. Otherwise, the ball is considered dead!
10. Penalty if Ball hits the Helmet (or any other equipment of the fielding team!)
As per the laws of cricket, a fielding team is not allowed to keep any equipment they use on the cricket field.
This means that the helmet that is often seen behind the wicket-keeper, is technically not allowed to be kept on the cricket field.
However, a wicket-keeper may need to choose to switch or alternate between their cap and the helmet if a fast bowler and a spin bowler are bowling together. In such a scenario, bringing the helmet from outside the field after every over will waste a lot of time. Thus, umpires allow the wicket-keepers to keep the helmet on the field behind them.
However, if the ball hits the helmet, 5 penalty runs are awarded to the batting team!
What’s more interesting is that it’s not just the helmet, if the ball hits any equipment of the fielding team that is on the ground, 5 penalty runs shall be awarded.
An interesting incident was that of Indian wicket-keeper MS Dhoni during a Champions Trophy match against Bangladesh in 2017.
Dhoni removed one of his glove near the stumps, went to collect the ball and threw it towards the stumps accidentally hitting his glove on the ground. The umpire awarded 5 penalty runs!
11. Play CAN NOT proceed until Umpire’s signal is Acknowledged!
This rule falls under the interesting and unknown category!
We have all seen a cricket umpire give different signals; be it a six, or a four, a no ball or even a wide. But, have you ever wondered who is the umpire signalling to! Is it the batsman, is the captain or the audience or is it the camera?
The truth is that the umpire is giving these signals to a set of two official scorekeepers (also known as the scorers) who are sitting next to the giant scoreboard on a cricket ground.
Their job is to keep track of the signals, tally the score and update the scoreboard.
However, one of the rules of cricket states that all the signals given by the umpire have to be acknowledged by the scorers. Typically, this is done by waving a flag after the signal is given so that the umpire knows the scorer has seen the signal and taken it into account.
If for some reason, the scorer fails to acknowledge the umpire’s signal, the play can not proceed ahead!
12. The 3-Minute Rule
This rule is pretty simple. As per the Law 40 of the laws of cricket, an incoming batsman should be ready to play within 3 minutes of the previous batsman getting out. If this fails to happen, then the batsman can be given out, “Timed Out”!
3 minutes is not a lot of time for a batsman to wear their equipment and be ready to face the ball. Thus, a batsman, who is expected to play next, is generally already padded up and ready to bat even before a wicket has fallen.
There have been no such instances of a batsman being given out as timed out. However, Sachin Tendulkar from India came very close to being the first one! Watch the video below.
The explanation of what happened (as seen in the video) –
The incident took place during the second innings of third test between India and South Africa played in 2006-07. Prior to the end of South Africa’s innings, Sachin Tendulkar had been replaced by another fielder for 18 minutes. Thus, he wasn’t eligible to bat for at least 18 minutes since the time the game restarted with Indian Innings.
However, since India lost 2 early wickets (within nearly 10 minutes of the game restarting), Sachin couldn’t come out and bat. As a result, Sourav Ganguly came out to bat after a six-minute delay!
South African captain Graeme Smith did not appeal (on moral grounds) for a timed out dismissal of the incoming batsman.
13. Out “Returning the Ball” Rule!
As a player, if you decide to show some friendly gesture by helping your fielding by returning the ball to them, then you must be mistaken!
Such a gesture should not be considered at all friendly as a batsman can be given out if he decides to “Return the Ball” to the fielder without their consent!
Jiveshan Pillay of South Africa learned this the hard way during an U19 world cup match against West Indies! Watch the video for this weird incident!
Jiveshan Pillay decided to play a cover drive on the offside. However, the ball hit the inside edge, then the pads and rolled back (but away from the stumps). When the ball came to a halt, Jiveshan decided to show some friendly gesture by picking up and returning the ball back to the keeper.
However, since he didn’t take any permission from the fielder, this was considered as OUT obstructing the field by returning the ball under the rule 37.4 of the Laws of Cricket!
14. If Bails DON’T fall, it is NOT OUT (even if the Ball goes through the stumps!)
Most of you may be aware that for a batsman to get when the ball hits the stumps, the bails on top of the stumps have to fall.
Now, that’s a straight forward rule! Although I find it quite strange that a batsman is given not out if the bails don’t fall even if the ball has clearly hit the stumps!
I get this part of the rule. It was useful back days when the only way an umpire could confidently determine that a ball has indeed hit the stumps was that the bails had fallen. In modern times, it does not make total sense to give a batsman out if the bails don’t dislodge especially with all the technology of replays, reviews, and illuminated bails.
But, what’s really weird about this rule is that a batsman is given NOT OUT even if the ball goes through the stumps but the bails don’t dislodge! That’s crazy!
Don’t believe me? Check out this video below!
The Pat Symcox incident took place in a match against Pakistan when the spin bowler Mustaq Ahmed’s quicker delivery completely flummoxed Symcox and went straight through his defence but also through the stumps!
Since the bails didn’t fall, Symcox was given not out. Umpires later readjusted the stumps and game continued.
There have been several other instances when the bails have refused to fall off. It is not all that uncommon these days, however, the Pat Symcox incident was quite unique!
15. Penalty for Time Wasting
Time wasting is a common strategy that most Goal Keepers adopt in Football since the game is timed. But in cricket, there seems to be no reason why a team would like to waste time!
That is what makes this rule really weird! Furthermore, there are strict actions taken if the team continues to waste time despite warnings!
Time Wasting by the Fielding Side
If either of the two umpires feel that the progress of the over is really slow or time is being wasted in any other way, a first and final warning is issued to the captain of the fielding side.
If there is any further wasting of time identified, then the umpires can –
- Award 5 penalty runs if time wasting is being done between overs
- OR Suspend the bowler immediately from bowling for the rest of the innings if time is being wasted during the course of the over!
Time Wasting by the Batting Side
If either of the two umpires feel that any one of the two batsmen is wasting time, a first and final warning is issued. If there is any further instance of time wasting by any other batsman in that innings, the umpire shall award 5 penalty runs to the bowling team.
In both the cases, the umpires report the incident to the respective cricket boards and the ICC, based on which further appropriate action may be taken against the captain, individual or the complete team as deemed necessary.
16. No Bails? No Problem! (Cricket can be played without Bails)
Bails are a very important aspect of the game of cricket. As we discussed above in point 14, a batsman is given not out if the bails don’t fall. Thus, having the bails on stumps is absolutely important in order to determine whether the batsman should be given out or not!
However, the Law 8.5 of the Laws of Cricket allows a game of cricket to proceed without bails if both the umpires see it necessary to do so.
A first of it’s kind of incident took place during the 4th Test Match between England and Australia in 2019. During the second sessions of the days play, the umpires were concerned due to the strong winds that crossed the stadium.
Thus, after consultation with each other, the umpires decided to proceed with the game without any bails!
In case you are wondering, “How would a batsman be given out in such a situation?”. Well, Law 29.4 takes care of that!
As per law 29.4, if the game is being played without bails, it is up to the umpires to decide whether or not the wicket has been hit! The batsman can still be given out if the umpire is satisfied that the ball, striker’s bat, or any other equipment of the batsman has hit the wickets.
17. Penalty for players returning to the field without permission!
This is another of those rules which falls under the “interesting and unknown” category!
It is quite common for fielders or players to go off the field especially when they are fielding. This can happen when a player is not feeling completely fit. They are allowed to leave the field temporarily and can be replaced with a substitute fielder after giving a valid justification to the umpire.
A player can also return to the field but he needs to take the permission of the umpire. Therefore, you will mostly see a player joins the field once the over has finished and the ball becomes dead.
If, however, the player joins the field during the middle of the over or otherwise, and comes in contact with the ball while it is in play without having taken due permission from the umpire, such a ball will be considered a “Dead Ball”. The umpires will also award 5 penalty runs to the batting team!
This is the part of the rule that many people are unaware of!
18. Penalty Runs for Fielders Wearing Gloves!
It is quite common to see a wicket-keeper wearing gloves for collecting the ball. In fact, wicket-keeper is the only player from the fielding team that is allowed to wear gloves.
Now, I’m sure you won’t find that surprising at all or uncommon or even weird!
But, what is indeed really weird is that if any of the other fielders wear the gloves of the wicket-keeper (even for 10 seconds) without the intention of being a wicket-keeper, 5 penalty runs are awarded to the batting team!
Watch the video below for really understanding how bizarre this rule sounds!
Matt Renshaw jokingly wore the gloves of the wicket keeper which were dropped on the ground while chasing the ball. To Renshaw’s bemusement, his side was penalised 5 runs as penalty!
19. The “Mowing of Grass on the Pitch” Rule
I found this one to be THE MOST BIZARRE of all the rules!
Mowing the grass on the cricket ground is not an uncommon sight. In fact, it is necessary to mow the grass of the cricket field in order to make the field consistent. There are specifications on how much grass should be left on the field. The same applies to the grass on the pitch.
But, here’s where it gets bizarre!
The cricket pitch HAS to be mowed every single day of the match! No no, I am not talking about the pitch rollers to make sure that the pitch holds itself and remains consistent, I’m talking about mowing a pitch!
This basically means the pitch has to be mowed (the process of removing grass from the pitch) even when there is NO GRASS on the pitch!
I guess, a rule is a rule after all!
20. LBW actually means “Body before Wicket”!
In cricket, one of the most common ways a batsman gets out is an LBW or otherwise known as Leg Before Wicket.
But, did you know, the “Leg” in LBW doesn’t just refer to your leg, it actually refers to any part of your body!
Before you go all crazy, let me simplify this for you. This basically means, if the ball is hitting the stumps, and it hits any part of the batsman, it can be given out as LBW (as long as other criteria for judging an LBW decision are met).
Some of us may remember one of the strangest LBW decisions given against Sachin Tendulkar. Watch the video of the incident below.
While this incident incited a controversy wherein the Indian media termed it as Shoulder Before Wicket and not as LBW! However, the fact of the matter remains, that the umpire was well within his rights to give the batsman out! The question can only possibly be raised on the moral grounds of the umpire.
21. No Ball if the Bowler Throws the ball at Strikers End
I’m sure, the first thing that may come to your mind when reading this weird rule would be that of a bowler “Throwing” the ball which in cricket is otherwise known as chucking! Such a delivery is immediately called a no ball.
However, this is not what this rule is about!
This rule is detailed in the Law 21.4 in the Laws of Cricket which is about “Bowler throwing towards striker’s end BEFORE delivery”
According to the law 21.4, “if the bowler throws the ball towards the striker’s end before entering the delivery stride, either umpire can call and signal a NO BALL“!
This basically means that when a bowler is getting ready for bowling their next delivery and walking back to take their run-up (also known as the delivery stride), if the bowler decides to throw the ball towards the batsman on strike, the umpires can call this as a no ball!
That is quite interesting and an unknown rule!
Till date, no such incident has ever taken place and this rule was never invoked by the umpires in the entire cricketing history.
22. Batsman Out Obstructing the Field!
This is another one of those rules which I find really interesting!
As per the Law 37, if a batsman wilfully strikes the ball there by obstructing the field while the ball is in play, the batsman can be given out!
There are several details of what constitutes obstructing the field and what doesn’t. Most importantly, if a batsman stops/hits the ball accidentally, it is not considered as obstructing the field.
In order to understand this rule better, let’s take a look at an example –
Most of the times, a batsman deliberately try to come in between the throw by changing the line of their running or just preventing the ball from hitting the stumps.
In Inzamam’s case, he tried to prevent the ball from hitting the stumps when he was out of his crease. Even though the ball may or may not have hit the stumps, as per the rules, the batsman has to be given out.
However, if a batsman ends up deflecting the ball purely by accident, a batsman is given NOT OUT.
This happened during the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup Final with Ben Stokes (watch the video below)
As seen in the video, Ben Stokes never changed the line of his running. He never even looked at the ball being thrown and he was just concerned about reaching back to the crease. Thus, it was termed an accidental obstructing.
23. Ball Bouncing more than once is a No Ball
In the modern day cricket, it rarely happens that the ball bounces more than once before reaching the batsman.
This rule gained traction especially after the Trevor Chappel “Underarm Bowling” incident.
As a result, it was decided that if a ball bounces more than once before it reaches the wickets on the strikers end, it is considered a No Ball.
It has only happened once in cricket during an match between Australia and World XI when Mark Talyor was bowling. Watch the video below for details.
In the above incident, Mark Taylor, who was primarily known for his batting as he almost never bowled, decides to bowl. The ball bounces twice before hitting the stumps.
However, umpire Simon Taufell correctly gives it a NO Ball. (NOTE – in the video, Mark Taylor incorrectly mentions that the ball has to bounce more than twice in order to be a no ball. However, as per the rule, if the ball bounces more than once, it should be called a no ball.)
24. Batsman NOT OUT if ball hits glove NOT holding the bat!
A glove of a batsman is considered as an extension of his bat. Thus, when a ball hits the glove of a batsman while batting, and goes directly to a fielder, the batsman is adjudged as OUT caught.
However, did you know a batsman can be given NOT OUT even if the fielding team catches the ball directly after it has hit the glove of the batsman!
This is, however, only applicable if the ball hits the batsman’s glove but that hand is not touching any part of the bat.
25. Hat-trick can be completed over 2 innings or more!
Well, this is not exactly a rule but rather an interesting thing to note.
In cricket, a hat-trick occurs when a bowler takes 3 wickets in 3 consecutive deliveries! If a batsman takes 4 wickets in 4 consecutive deliveries, it is known as a double hat-trick!
What’s also interesting is that the 3 consecutive deliveries can be in the same over, spread across two different overs, or two different innings or possibly even different matches! As long as the bowler take a wicket each of the 3 consecutive deliveries, it is considered a hat-trick!
This is often not clearly understood.
Hat-tricks are rare in cricket. What’s even rare is a hat-trick across two different innings or matches. Even more rare is a hat-trick spread across 3 overs!
Australia’s Merv Hughes had a very interesting and a complicated hat-trick! In the second test in 1988-89 against the West Indies, he took a wicket of last ball of his 36th over. By the time he came to bowl again, West Indies had only 1 wicket left, which he took on the first ball of his 37th over. In the 2nd innings, he again took a wicket off the first ball. Thus, his hat-trick was spread across not just 2 innings but also across 3 overs!
You can read more about some of the most unusual hat-tricks in cricketing history by clicking on this link. (opens in another tab)