What is an Over in Cricket? (Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know!)

If you are beginning your journey in cricket, you must have heard the word “Over”  several times. It is impossible to understand the game of cricket without really understanding what an over in cricket means. So, in today’s post, we shall talk about everything to know about an over in cricket.

In cricket, an over refers to a set of 6 legitimate deliveries bowled by a bowler towards a batsman. Each delivery is an opportunity for a batsman to score runs. A wide, no-ball or a dead ball are not counted as legitimate deliveries. The number of overs in a match depends on the type of match being played. 

There is a lot more to know about an over. For instance, did you know that once an over is complete, the field, including the position of the wicket-keeper, changes? 

So, let’s get to learn more about his and much more in this post!

What is an Over in Cricket?

In cricket, the whole game is played over by over. There is a definite number of overs prescribed to every match. For example, in a one-day international match (ODI) there are 50 overs. We will discuss this further in detail later in the article. 

The over is said to have started when the bowler begins his run-up to bowl his first of the six deliveries. If there is no run-up [such as in case the bowler is a spinner], the over begins when he takes his action for the delivery of the first ball of that over.

After the bowler delivers 6 balls, the umpire calls “OVER”.  This is the sign of the changes and shifts that have to be done according to the rules. This is also often known as “Over Change”

An over is very important to understand. Several terminologies and statistics are based on an over in cricket.

For instance, Runs Per Over (RPO), also known as the run rate, is calculated to identify the rate at which a team is scoring in a match. Runs Per Over often helps in implementing certain strategies in order to win a match such as should the batting team defend or start attacking based on how many runs are required per over to win the match. 

What happens After an Over is Completed in Cricket?

Have you ever noticed the frequency of advertisements in a cricket match? After every over, there is usually an advertisement. Have you ever wondered why?  

This is because after the umpire calls “over”, some activities need to take place on the ground as per the laws of cricket. These activities take time. The sponsors utilise this time to show their advertisements. These advertisements are only related to broadcasting and there is no connection with the actual game! 

So, what are these activities that happen after every over in cricket?

  • Bowling and batting ends change – The side of the pitch which was non-striker’s end during the previous over, now becomes the striker’s end and vice versa.
  • Umpires swap their responsibility – The umpire standing at the striker’s end (also known as the leg umpire) now becomes the umpire at the bowler’s end and vice versa. 
  • The roles of striker and non-striker are automatically swapped – After the end of each over, the batsman at the non-striker has to assume the role of the striker.
  • Wicketkeeper goes to the opposite end – Since the non-striker end now becomes the striker’s end, the wicketkeeper also has to change the ends.
  • The bowler hands over the ball to another bowler – the bowler bowling the next over now has to bowl from a different end as compared to the bowler from the previous over. 

DID YOU KNOWafter the end of the over, the two batsmen don’t actually cross over to the other side. It’s just that the batting ends change. Therefore, a batsman at the non-strikers end now will become the batsman at the strikers end! Similarly, the umpires don’t actually walk to the other side of the pitch, they just change the roles! 

Why Does an Over in Cricket have Exactly 6 Deliveries? 

Cricket is a game with a long history! Interestingly, throughout this history, an over didn’t necessarily have 6 deliveries bowled by a bowler!

In fact, it was not until 1979 that the rules of cricket were amended and a rule was added in order to standardize the number of deliveries bowled by a bowler in an over. It was made mandatory for all international matches to have only 6 legitimate  deliveries bowled by a bowler in an over.

Thus, from 1979, the test matches were being played with the standardized version of an over with 6 balls. 

So, what happened prior to 1979? Since there was no standard rule as to how many deliveries were to be bowled by a bowler, it was mutually agreed upon by the two participating captains prior to the match and a number was fixed! Yes, you read that right! 

Today, it may sound illogical to do so. But, this discussion between the captains didn’t really happen before every single match. It would often be taken up by the cricket boards of the respective countries to discuss before the series began. 

Thus, the number of deliveries bowled by a bowler would often vary from series to series, and from country to country. 

Here is a small list that tells us how many balls were there in an over in some of the top cricket playing countries before 1980:

List describing the number of deliveries considered in an over prior to 1979

The reason why the number of deliveries in an over were fixed to 6 were as follows – 

  • In some countries such as England, Australia, and South Africa, the 4 or 5  deliveries were bowled per over. As a result, the over changes after the over were quite frequent, and this meant a lot of time wastage.
  • It was noticed that the 8 ball over could sometimes be very tiring especially for fast bowlers bowling in Test Matches. 

As a result, a mutual ground was identified and 6 balls per over was found as a suitable number. 

Can an Over Have More Than 6 Deliveries Today?

An over can only have 6 legitimate deliveries bowled by a bowler.

However, there are instances when a bowler may end up bowling towards the batsman more than 6 times. For example –  

  1. If the bowler delivers a wide ball, the batting side gets a run by default, and the delivery is not counted in the over, and has to be bowled again.
  2. If the bowler delivers a no-ball, again the delivery is not counted as one of the six balls , and the bowler has to bowl it again. 

How Much Time Does it Take to Finish an Over?

In the game of Cricket, a bowler can take about 3 to 6 minutes to finish an over. This largely depends on the type of bowler. A fast bowler needs to have a longer run up. Thus, the time taken by a fast bowler to bowl an over is more than a spin bowler.

Some bowlers are known for finishing their overs much faster. For example, India’s Ravindra Jadeja is known to finish an over even within about 2 minutes. Another instance is of Pakistan’s Younis Khan, when he bowled of about 5.2 overs in 8 minutes with an over that was actually completed within about 35 seconds! This was however for a domestic match playe. 

As per the latest rules, a bowling team is expected to finish about 13-15 overs within an hour. However, this varies based on the format of the game that is being played. 

What is the Meaning of Over Rate in Cricket? 

In Cricket, an Over Rate means the average number of overs completed by a bowling team in an hour. This is obtained by dividing the number of overs bowled by a bowling team by the time taken to bowl the overs in hours

As per the latest rules, a bowling team is expected to finish about 13-15 overs within an hour. However, this varies based on the format of the game that is being played. 

In test matches, a bowling team is expected to finish 15 overs within an hour. Similarly, in the ODI matches, the bowling team has to bowl 50 overs within 3 and a half hours. This applies to both sides. Likewise, in T20 matches, 20 overs have to be delivered by the fielding team within 90 minutes. 

Time allowances such as injury timeouts, DRS decisions, drinks break, and other external inevitable delays that are beyond the control of the captain of the fielding team are also considered, and such a duration is excluded while calculating the over rate.. 

What is the Longest Over in Cricket?

Since an over can is not considered complete until 6 legitimate deliveries are bowled by the bowler, theoretically, it can last forever if the bowler keeps delivering no-balls or wide balls. But, in practise, the situation is obviously different!

In international cricket, the longest over ever was bowled by Pakistan’s Mohammed Sami (not to be confused with India’s Mohammed Shami), who bowled a whopping 17 balls in an over! This instance took place during Pakistan’s tour of New Zealand in 2001. 

How many runs can the batsmen score in an over in Cricket?

In Cricket, a maximum of 36 runs can be scored for an over with 6 legitimate deliveries. However, if a bowler delivers one of more no-ball or a wide ball, there is a possibility to score more than 36 runs in an over. 

Whenever a bowler delivers a no-ball it is not considered as a legitimate delivery of the over. Thus, the ball is not counted but the batsman can still score runs. 

In a 2018 match between Northern Districts and Central Districts Joe Carter & Brett Hampton scored 43 runs in an over! Willem Ludick was the bowler. The sequence went like this: 4, 6 (+1 nb), 6 (+1nb), 6, 1, 6, 6, 6.

Has a Batsman Ever Managed to Hit 6 Sixes in an Over?

In International Cricket, there have been only 2 such instances when a batsman managed to hit all the 6 deliveries of an over for 6 sixes!

Herchelle Gibbs Hits 6 Sixes against Netherlands


In a first time sensational event at an international level, Herchelle Gibbs hit 6 sixes in the 30th over against Netherlands. This was the first time ever such an event had taken place in an international match.

What is really interesting is that this incident took place in a ODI World Cup.

Yuvraj Singh Hits 6 Sixes off Stuart Broad of England

Yuvraj Singh Hits 6 sixes in a T20 match against England in 2007

After being sledged and challenged by Andrew Flintoff of England, Yuvraj Singh of India went berserk and ended up hitting 6 sixes in an over from Stuart Broad. This was only the 2nd time ever all 6 balls in an over went for a six in an international match, and first time ever in a T20 match.

It is interesting to note that just like Herchelle Gibbs, Yuvraj Singh also achieved the feat in a World Cup match.

Ravi Shastri and Garfield Sobers have also managed to hit 6 sixes in an over. However, their achievement came in a List A cricket match and not an international cricket match.

How Many Overs are There in an International Cricket Match?

As mentioned earlier in this article, the number of overs vary based on the format of the cricket match being played. Let’s look at some of the interesting details about it!

One-Day International Matches: [Limited Overs Cricket Matches]

As per the rules of the game, a one-day internationals consist of 50 overs of batting per side. If, because of some reason such as bad weather, if the 100 over could not be completed in the stipulated time, each inning is reduced by an equal number of overs.

To announce the result, a minimum of 20 overs have to be played by each side totaling 40 overs. 

20-20 [Limited Overs Cricket Matches]

As the name suggests, each side has to bat for 20 overs. In the case of inevitable disturbances, both teams need to bat for at least 5 overs to declare the result. 

These type of matches are also known as limited overs cricket matches because the maximum number of overs for each team is limited. Furthermore, the maximum number of overs that can be bowled in each match are also limited.

Test Cricket

There is no prescribed number of overs in the test cricket. However, as per the rule, 90 overs have to be played every day. On account of the inning change, 2 overs can be compromised. That means a minimum of 88 overs is required to call it a day. 

The captain of the batting team can declare their innings. This right to declare an inning is used by the captain to save time to get 10 wickets of the opposition. This happens exclusively in a test match. 

Can a bowler bowl multiple overs in a row? 

A bowler is not allowed to bowl two consecutive overs in cricket as per the laws of cricket.

A bowler may be allowed to bowl the last over of the teams 1st Innings, and the 1st over of the next innings in the same Test Match. However, a bowler is simply not allowed to bowl two consecutive overs in the same innings of a match in cricket.

How many overs can a bowler bowl?

The general rule is that no bowler can bowl more than 20% of the total overs per innings. This rule is however applicable only to the limited overs cricket matches.

Therefore –

  • In a 50 overs cricket match, a bowler can bowl a maximum of 10 overs. 
  • In a 20 overs cricket match, a bowler can bowl a maximum of 4 overs. 

There is no such limit in the case of the test matches and the bowler can bowl as many over as he or the captain of his team wants him to bowl.

It is, however, important to note that since a bowler can never bowl two consecutive overs, thus, a bowler will only be able to bowl a maximum of 50% of the total over bowled in an innings for a test match.

Can a bowler bowl spin and fast in the same over?

Yes! It is legitimate to spin and deliver a fastball in the same over. With umpire’s consent per ball, the bowler can also decide which hand he wants to deliver the ball with.

We wrote an extensive post on how a bowler can bowl both fast and spin bowling in the same over in cricket with interesting examples that have occurred in the game’s history. Check out that blog post to know more!

The bowler has to inform the umpire if he is changing from over the wicket to around the wicket or vice versa. Umpire then informs the batsman accordingly.

Can a bowler be changed in the middle of the over?

There are times when a bowler is unable to complete the over. If the bowler is unable to complete the over on account of an injury, another bowler is assigned to finish the remaining deliveries.

An important thing to note here is that the bowler who is assigned to finish the over cannot be the one who has bowled the previous over. Furthermore, substitute players, such as the 12th man, can not be allowed to bowl the remaining over.

Before starting the over, the umpire will need to be informed of the side and the arm with which the substitute bowler will be bowling to finish the over.

Related Questions –

What is a Maiden Over in Cricket? 

In Cricket, a maiden over is an over in which a bowler concedes 0 runs.

If, however, a bowler concedes runs through wides or no-balls, but no run is scored the batsman, the over is not considered as a maiden over.

What is Death Over in Cricket? 

Death Over, otherwise also known as Slog Over, is a part of the cricket with a limited set of overs. As the end of the match approaches, the batsman tries to make the most of the remaining overs. They hit the balls aggressively to score faster. 

In one-day cricket, Death overs are usually the last 10 overs of the match. While, in Twnety20 cricket, the last 5 overs are the death overs. 

What is a Super Over in Cricket?

A Super Over in Cricket is a one-over playoff that takes place when the final scores are level at the end of an ODI or T20 match. A super over is played in order to determine the winner of such a match.

A super over is usually played in Twenty20 matches. However, the ODI World Cup Final of 2019 was a historical exception to this.

What is Mandatory over?

The mandatory overs in cricket are a set of 15 overs that have to be completed in the last one hour of play on the 5th day of a Test Match. If the 15 overs are not completed within the time, the game could be extended until the overs are completed.

If more than 15 overs are delivered before the hour completes, the teams can choose to play further. The first 15 are mandatory.

If both captains agree that these 15 over are not required, then they could be canceled.

What is powerplay over?

The Powerplay Overs in cricket are the overs that are delivered during the first 10 overs in an ODI, and first 6 overs in T20 matches. These overs are delivered with some fielding restrictions which allows the batting team to score runs easily. Hence, the term “power play” is assigned.

Can a hat trick span over two overs?

Yes. It is possible for a bowler to have a hattrick span over multiple overs. It is possible if a bowler –

  1. Has delivered 1st over and got two wickets in the 5th and 6th balls, 
  2. Delivered say, 25th over again, got a wicket in the 1st ball 

In such a scenario, it will still be considered a hat trick! 

In test cricket, hat trick can span over to two innings of the same test match.  Team hattrick can also be spanned over to 2 consecutive overs. 

Some Interesting facts: 

  1. Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan holds an incredible record of bowling 1992 maidens in 495 International matches.
  2. The only country to triumph the 60-over, 50-over, and 20-over World Cup, is India. 

Final Thoughts: 

Understanding about an over in cricket is of utmost importance to really understand how the game is played. We have tried to cover everything there is to know about an over in cricket. I hope this provides you with the necessary knowledge!

Shrot Katewa

Shrot is an avid cricket fan! He has played and endorsed the sport ever since he was in School. In fact, he played as a professional cricketer represented his state team in National Indoor Cricket Championship held in Pune, India. Shrot loves the game, loves talking to other people who play the game and share his learnings with other interested individuals. He is the founder of CricketMastery.com. This website is a culmination of his desire to help others understand this wonderful Game of Cricket!

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