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Cricket - How To Get Out

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Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out. When they are all out, the side that's out comes in and the side that's been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out. When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in...
- Anonymous author.

Many people are astonished at the number of ways it is possible to be dismissed in cricket. Ask anyone how many ways there are, and they'll go through a list:

Well, there's bowled, caught, caught behind, LBW, run out... er... stumped... that's six. Yes, six ways.

Actually, there are 11, and the list above includes only five of them. 'Eleven?', people who know the game well will cry, 'there are surely ten?' Yes, it's a little ambiguous, but there are 11 ways of being out in cricket.

The Basics

Before we tell you how to get yourself out, we'll need to know some basics.


A batsman cannot be given out unless a member of the fielding side 'appeals' to the umpire and, as Law 27.4 says, a simple shout of 'how's that?' will do perfectly. Umpires must respond to each appeal, either by raising a finger above the head to show the batsman's innings is over or by a verbal 'not out'. The fielding captain may withdraw the appeal if he is feeling generous, and umpires have the right to change their decision 'providing that such an alteration is made promptly1'. A batsman can also 'walk' without waiting for the umpire to give him out, and this behaviour is generally encouraged - a man who faintly nicks the ball to the wicketkeeper and walks off, knowing he is guilty, is generally better respected than one who hangs around waiting for the dreaded finger.

Umpires may consult with each other, perhaps if one hasn't seen an important part of the action, but must ask specific questions of each other. For example, 'was that out?' is not an acceptable question to ask, whereas 'did that hit the glove or the forearm on its way through?' would be. Referrals of decisions to a 'third umpire' with access to television footage are not covered in the Laws.

Putting Down The Wicket

Some of the laws refer to this, so it is worth a mention. Although not an actual method of dismissal, it is an important concept. For example, if the bowler bowls and the ball hits the wicket, however hard, and the bails do not fall off, the wicket hasn't been broken, so the batsman isn't out.

An action also known as 'breaking the wicket', the wicket can be put down by:

  • The ball.
  • The striker's bat2, person or clothing - whether still held by or attached to the batsman or not.
  • The hand or arm of a fielder, providing the ball is held in the hand of that arm.
  • Pulling a stump from the ground.

If bails are not being used for whatever reason, usually due to high winds, simply making contact with the stumps in one of the ways above will suffice.

The Popping Crease

This is a line drawn across the pitch four feet (or 1.22m) from the back edge of the stumps. The 'crease' is drawn on the ground to about the width of the pitch, but it is actually considered to extend an infinite distance either side. The area between the crease and stumps is known as the batsman's 'ground'; if part of him or his bat is touching the floor in this area he is safe from being run out or stumped - if he is on the line or beyond it, he is 'out of his ground' and vulnerable.

The slightly odd name comes from a time when there was a hole in the ground instead of a line; the batsman would try to get his bat in the hole before the fielders could 'pop' the ball in it. Serious injuries were common, until the lawmakers decided a crease might be safer.

We'll take a look at the main methods of dismissal now in the order in which they occur in the Laws. Then, finally, we'll tell you a secret - the Eleventh Way.

Method One: Bowled

The bowler comes up and bowls, and you miss the ball completely as it whizzes past you and hits middle stump, sending it spinning through the air.

The striker is out Bowled if his wicket is put down by a ball delivered by the bowler, not being a No ball, even if it first touches his bat or person.
- Law 30.1

This is a straightforward way of getting someone out. The bowler bowls the ball fairly and it hits the stumps in a very satisfying way. It doesn't matter if it hits the pads or bat3 on the way through, the batsman is still out bowled. Bowled takes precedence over any other dismissal (for example, if the batsman hit the ball onto the stumps and was then caught) and the bowler gets credited for a fine delivery.

Method Two: Timed Out

Distracted by a raging hangover and too much curry the previous night, you are in the toilet when the man before you is given out. By the time you emerge, gasping for air, someone else has taken your place. You're out before facing a ball!

...The batsman must be in position... within three minutes of the fall of the last wicket.

Law 31 gives incoming batsmen three minutes to get onto the field and be ready for the next ball. If three minutes have elapsed, on appeal, the batsman can be given out timed out. This has never happened at Test or One-Day International4 level and only three times in first class cricket worldwide.

If no player comes to the crease and the delay becomes 'protracted', the umpires are compelled to investigate and possibly award the match to the fielding side.

Method Three: Caught

The bowler is giving you a torrid time, so you decide to go on the attack. You charge at the next ball and take a wild swing in an effort to lump it back over his head. The bowler grins at you as the ball bobbles gently into his hands.

The striker is out Caught if a ball delivered by the bowler, not being a no-ball, touches his bat... and is subsequently held by a fielder as a fair catch before it touches the ground.
- Law 32.

This is simple enough; the batsman knocks the ball up in the air, and a fielder catches it. The ball can be caught in a fielder's clothing or the wicket-keeper's pads, but if it is lodged in or deflects off a protective helmet worn by a fielder, this is not considered fair and the batsman is not out. If it hits the umpire, a fielder or the other batsman before being caught, this is considered fair.

If the fielder steps over the boundary while catching the ball, it is considered that the ball has crossed the boundary, and the batsman will score six runs - however if he, realising he might overstep the boundary, knocks the ball up in the air, then runs back onto the field of play and catches it, this is perfectly valid! He must simply not be in contact with the ball while he is over the boundary.

No runs can be scored if a batsman is out caught. If the batsmen run while the ball is in the air, these runs are disallowed.

Note that caught, caught and bowled (when the ball is caught by the bowler) and caught behind (where the wicket-keeper takes the catch) are all the same dismissal. Regardless of what a scorer may write down, it's all out caught under the laws.

Method Four: Handled The Ball

You hit the ball, but realise it's going to hit the stumps anyway. You dive and just about manage to heroically claw it away with your fingertips before it does.

Either batsman is out... if he touches the ball while in play with a hand or hands not holding the bat unless he does so with the consent of the opposing side.
- Law 33.

Quite simple. If your hand isn't on the bat and you deliberately touch the ball with it, you're out. There are two exceptions to this. If a batsman handles the ball to avoid injury (for example, to avoid being hit with a throw) he cannot be out, nor if he handles the ball to pass it back to the fielders. In the latter case, unfortunately, he would be 'out Obstructing the field' under Law 37.4. C'est la vie.

Method Five: Hit The Ball Twice

You hit the ball up in the air and realise it's there to be hit; as it comes down you smack it again, and it arrows towards the boundary.

The striker is out... if... it strikes any part of his person or is struck by his bat and...he wilfully strikes it again with his bat or person... except for the sole purpose of guarding his wicket.
- Law 34.

An extremely long-winded law that requires some editing to become understandable to most people. Effectively, the striker is allowed to hit the ball twice if it is accidental, or if it is to make sure it does not hit the wicket. If he stops the ball with his bat and then clouts it towards the boundary, he can be given out.

There are a whole series of sub-laws that explain how many runs can be scored from a ball legally struck twice deliberately, depending on when the fielder threw the ball in relation to where the batsmen were at the time. These can largely be disregarded, as no player or umpire has ever heard of this happening.

Method Six: Hit Wicket

A particularly fast ball takes you by surprise, and you execute a perfect backward roll right over your stumps.

The striker is out if... his wicket is put down either by the striker's bat or by his person.
- Law 35.

The bowler bowls, and the batsman swings and hits his wicket, dislodging a bail. Or the batsman loses his balance in an embarrassing way, and looks an utter nincompoop as he flattens the wicket. Perhaps he just steps back slightly too far and kicks a stump. All these are great ways to be out hit wicket. If you're silly enough to knock over your own stumps with your bat, or if you fall on them, you probably don't deserve to be batting anyway.

Incidentally, Ian Botham's dismissal by this method against the West Indies at the Oval in 1991 led to the famous Legover commentary - Jonathan Agnew's comment that Botham 'just didn't get his leg over' left co-presenter Brian Johnson giggling into a large red handkerchief, and is still considered to be Test Match Special's finest moment.

Method Seven: Leg Before Wicket, or 'LBW'

The ball hits you on the leg. Everyone shouts.

Law 36 is the law that gets talked about for hours. Many believe it to hold some mystique, to be cricket's equivalent of the offside rule in football, but in reality it is quite simple. There are trickier laws: for example, the no ball criteria. The umpire must consider:

  • Was the delivery fair?
  • Where did the ball pitch?
  • Did the batsman hit the ball with bat or glove first; if not, where did the ball hit him in relation to the wicket?
  • Would the ball have gone on to hit the stumps?

Umpires will take these in order; if the delivery was fair, they will consider the next issue on the list.

Was The Delivery Fair?

If the ball was a no ball, the batsman cannot be out LBW.

Where Did The Ball Pitch?

The ball must not hit the batsman outside the line of leg stump (ie, the stump on the same side as his legs at the moment the ball is bowled). If it does, he cannot be out LBW.

If the ball hits the batsman 'on the full', or without bouncing first, this point is not considered. Also, even if the ball is bowled by a spinner, for example, the umpire must consider that the ball will continue on its current path - he cannot presume the ball would have turned on pitching.

When And Where Did The Ball Hit The Batsman?

This is a little trickier. First of all the 'when'. Often, the ball will hit the bat and pad at around the same time, and the umpire must be very clear in his own mind which occurred first. If the ball hits the bat first, however slight the nick, the batsman cannot be out - the first interception must be with the batsman or his clothing.

Now, the 'where'. If the batsman is trying to hit the ball, it must hit him in a line drawn between the wickets5, even if this is above the line of the bails. If he is not 'offering a shot', it can hit him anywhere in line with the wickets or on the off side (the side where his legs aren't when the ball is delivered).

Would It Have Hit The Stumps?

Finally, the umpire must judge if the ball would have gone on to hit the stumps. If the criteria above are met and the umpire believes it would have, the batsman will soon be walking back to the pavilion.

Method Eight: Obstructing The Field

You loop the ball up in the air and, realising that the bowler will take it easily, run towards him shouting like a Zulu warrior.

Either batsman is out Obstructing the field if he wilfully obstructs or distracts the opposing side by word or action...
- Law 37.

Batsmen cannot deliberately get in the way of the fielding side, though in reality this can be hard to prove. They frequently run between ball and wicket to make a run out more difficult, and it would be a brave umpire who gave out a batsman because the ball hit him as he was trying to make his ground.

More obviously, if a batsman got in the way of a fielder who was trying to take a catch, or shouted to distract the fielder into dropping the ball, he could be given out for this on appeal.

Method Nine: Run Out

You run for the line at the other end, but before you can reach its safety the wicket-keeper gathers the ball and removes the bails.

Either batsman is out Run out... if at any time while the ball is in play
(i) he is out of his ground, and
(ii) his wicket is fairly put down by the opposing side...

- Law 38.

This is pretty simple; a batsman runs and, before he makes his ground6 the wicket is put down, he is out.

There are, however, exceptions:

  • If the manner of his dismissal fits the criteria of being out Stumped, below, he will not be run out but 'out Stumped'.
  • If he has made his ground and leaves it to avoid injury, for example to avoid the thrown ball, he is not out7.
  • The ball must be touched by a fielder after the bowler bowls it. If the batsman hits the ball onto the stumps at the other end, for example, his partner cannot be given run out unless it has been touched by one of the fielding side on the way.
  • The ball cannot hit a fielder's helmet and hit the stumps to run a batsman out. However, the ball in this instance remains 'in play'.

The batsman that is out, if there is any doubt, is the one nearest to the wicket that has been broken.

Method Ten: Stumped

You step out of your crease for a big slog shot, miss it and the wicket-keeper quickly whips the bails off.

Law 39 covers the criteria for a striker being out Stumped:

  • He must be out of his ground.
  • The ball bowled must not be a no ball.
  • He must not be attempting a run.
  • The wicket-keeper must put the wicket down without a fielder touching the ball.

A striker cannot be out stumped off a no-ball, although it is perfectly legitimate for a quick thinking wicket-keeper to throw the ball to a fielder to effect a run-out! The batsman can, however, be stumped off a wide ball, and some spinners deliberately bowl wide of leg-stump to try to get the batsman out in this way, particularly if the batsman is advancing towards him.

The Eleventh Way

Although it is not covered in the parts of the law that deal with other ways of being out, it is possible to be 'out Retired' under Law 2. Batsmen can retire from their innings at any time and for any reason:

  • If the umpires are satisfied that a batsman has been injured or become ill during the course of the game, he may retire and, providing the innings has not been completed, may resume his innings after the fall of any other wicket. This can sometimes happen if a batsman is feeling unwell and his side are still batting the next morning; if he feels better, he is quite entitled to resume.

  • He may also retire for any other reason, but is then only allowed to resume his innings if the opposing captain gives his consent. This can happen in friendly games, where a batsman may decide he has had enough batting practice and wants to give a team-mate time at the crease instead.

In the first instance, if the batsman does not resume, he is recorded as 'retired - not out'. In the second, he is 'retired - out' - the mysterious Eleventh Way.

Karachi wicket-keeper Abdul Aziz was hit in the chest by a fast ball in the 1958 - 59 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy against Pakistan Combined Services, and died on his way to hospital. Popular myth, repeated on various Internet sites, says that he was recorded on the scorecard as follows:

1st Innings: Abdul Aziz, retired hurt, 0
2nd Innings: Abdul Aziz, did not bat, dead, 0

Although this would have been unique in the first class game, this is untrue; the official scorecard shows that he was merely recorded as 'absent'.

1Law 27.4.2Note that it is the striker, not the non-striker, that is referred to here.3Also known as 'dragging on' or 'playing on'. In the Laws, it's all 'bowled'.4ODI.5Often shown as a 'red zone' on TV coverage; sadly not available to the majority of umpires.6In other words, safely makes it behind the popping crease at the other end.7A contentious decision to give Pakistan captain Inzamam Ul-Haq out after he left his ground to avoid a throw from England's Steve Harmison led to widespread condemnation of of umpire Darryl Hair. Even the top umpires don't always get it right.

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