Cricket World Cup 2007 Cricket Rules The Umpire's Signals




Cricket Rules - The Umpire's Signals

There are 10 ways of Getting Out 



Obviously umpires take the time to think about this decision, though They Themselves tend to give batsmen out fairly quickly. Other umpires might take a little longer, but the raising of the dreaded index finger means that the batsman has to leave the crease. There are many ways to get out in cricket, but there's only one signal and as soon as that finger goes up, the batsman's got to go. If there is any sign of dissent, the referee would come in to play and dish out punishment if he sees fit. He hates dissent or anything like that and rightly so. Players not only have a responsibility to the team they're playing for - they have a tremendous responsibility to everyone who is watching the game. They must make sure this game is played properly and will last for future generations.

TV Replay

This is a recent innovation and we're now able to refer more decisions to the third umpire than we've been in the past. The third umpire is called upon to look at television replays by a field umpire signalling a square mime of a TV screen. Run-outs, stumpings, doubtful catches and boundary issues can all be passed on and this has been a great help with crucial decisions. I was always a bit suspicious of TV entering our game in this way, but I've been more than pleased with how it has gone. We have a very difficult job to do and our duty is to try and get everything correct. Because we are only human, that's not always going to be possible so anything that helps us to get a higher percentage of decisions correct must be good for cricket. The players deserve those correct decisions, as does the game itself, and television has proved it can be put to good use. We are not able to refer things like LBW decisions - not yet anyway.


The boundary four is signalled by waving an arm from side to side, finishing with the arm across the chest. Each individual umpire has his own way of signalling a four. They all vary slightly - we've all got our own style. For any boundary incident, like whether a four has been scored, we can call for a TV replay and get an adjudication from the third umpire if required. If there are no television cameras present, we have to rely on the honesty of the fielder really. We would ask him and hope he's an honest boy who'll give us a truthful answer. That's how it used to be anyway! Usually though, the guys really are pretty honest.


The six is, of course, signalled when the ball has cleared the boundary and the umpire raises both hands above his head. Sometimes I might give my fingers a bit of a waggle. Other umpires may raise three fingers on each hand to further signal the six, or perhaps all five on one hand and one on the other. I think everyone enjoys watching a good six, except the bowler concerned. As with the four, umpires are entitled to call upon a TV replay if we aren't sure if the ball has cleared the ropes.


A bye is called when a legal delivery passes the stumps without the ball touching either the bat or the batsman's body. The number of byes scored obviously depends on the number of runs taken. The signal is one arm stretched high above the body.

Leg Bye

Umpires signal a leg bye with a hand touching their raised knee and this is scored when the ball hits the body of the batsman but not the bat. The ball doesn't necessarily have to touch the leg to be called a leg bye - it can be any part of the body, except the hand holding the bat. I've not yet fallen over while signalling a leg bye, but there's always time

One Short

This would be called when a batsman is running two or more, but fails to make his ground and puts his bat in short at one of the turns. Knocking a run off the score is signalled by touching one shoulder with the hand of the same arm. We also have a penalty clause now for a batsman who runs deliberately short. You may well ask why a batsman would want to do that, but he may well want to keep the strike. If a good batsman is in and wants to protect a 'rabbit' at the other end, he might run two with one short in order to retain the strike, knowing that only one would be added to the score. If he does that now, we can penalise him and no runs would count. It's cheating really, but it very rarely happens. I can't imagine any batsman giving that serious consideration, though of course it can happen by accident.


A wide is called with both arms outstretched when the delivery is out of the reach of the batsman and he is unable to play a correct cricket shot. In the one-day game, we tend to narrow the range of the wides, particularly down the leg side. We try to encourage the bowlers to bowl straighter and to make it more entertaining for the crowd. It's important that the batsman can have a fair shot at it. The penalty is one run, with another delivery added to that over.

No Ball

A 'no ball' is called if a bowler has over-stepped the popping crease. This is signalled by an arm raised at shoulder height. There are several types of no ball. The most common one is the foot-fault, though having the back foot wider than the return crease would also result in a no-ball. If a bowler bowls too many intimidating deliveries in one over, he can also be no-balled. Three short-pitched deliveries rising above the batsman's shoulders would be the right time to call a no ball. And a full-toss above the batsman's waist is also considered a no-ball

Dead Ball

The dead ball is called when someone is injured and either the players or the umpire require medical attention. Umpires would make the same signal if a batsman steps away from his crease when he is not ready to receive the delivery. That signal is the crossing of the wrists below the knee and the delivery should recommence without the original one counting.

New Ball

In Test cricket, the fielding side may request a new ball after it has been in use for 80 overs. The batsmen would be informed and the umpire would indicate the new ball to the scorers by raising it for them to see. The new ball usually brings the quicker bowlers back on and the whole pace of the game would change with them. The ball does get wear and tear and if it becomes ragged or out of shape in fair circumstances, we would replace it with a ball which had been used for the same number of overs.

Penalty Runs

A revision of the laws was made in order to punish those who often step out of the line. The MCC brought in a five-run penalty, but hopefully it will never be invoked and umpires will not have to use it. It's there in his armoury if the umpire needs it though. Penalty runs are treated like byes and leg byes as they are added to the extras. They could come into play for a variety of reasons; things like illegal fielding, time-wasting and the fielders damaging the pitch, though warnings would be given first. Penalty runs could be awarded without warning for things like unfairly changing the condition of the ball. The rules vary for offences by the batting team and penalty runs usually only come into play after warnings have been given or the runs taken have been cancelled...or both. It's quite complicated, but hopefully I won't have to consult my rule book. As I said, I hope this call is never made. The umpire signals five penalty runs by bringing one arm across his chest and touching his shoulder. If he taps that shoulder, the penalty runs are awarded to the batting side. If he simply places the hand there, runs are given to the fielding team.

Last Hour

As the title suggests, the umpire tapping his wristwatch would signal that the last hour of play has commenced. In Test matches, we have a minimum number of overs to be bowled in a day and 15 must be bowled per hour. The last hour starts at 5pm, unless there are circumstances where an hour or more of play has been lost and we can make up to an hour's play back that night. Some international boards agree that you may add the time on at the start of the following morning. In England, because we have lighter evenings, we tend to add the time on at the end of the day. At Test venues abroad, where the sun goes down very quickly, they may split the hour between the beginning and the end of the day's play. On the last day of a county game, when 96 overs have to be bowled, we must have 80 overs and then the last hour would start. That would be 5pm or later, though never before then.

Cancel Call

If we wish to alter a decision that had been made, we can cancel the call by touching each shoulder with the opposite hand. It doesn't happen very often and I think I've seen it just a couple of times in my career, thankfully not by me because it means a mistake has been made. I probably ought to have used it a couple of times, but, as yet, I still haven't called that


A lot of people are quite familiar with one of my superstitions, the little hop I give when the score passes certain milestones. It harks back to when I was kid playing village cricket down in Devon and we had an unlucky number - 111. We call it The Nelson, which you would also get with other multiples like 222 and 333. We found that the only way to stop something bad happening on a Nelson number was to get your feet off the ground. You could just lift your feet off the pavilion floor if you weren't in the middle, but if I was on the field of play I would just jump or hop. I would usually jump, but maybe hop depending on what time of day it is, how long I've been out there or how hot the weather is. When I took to umpiring, I thought I couldn't keep doing that, but a few mates urged me to carry on and not many people noticed it at the time. Then I did it in my second Test match at Edgbaston and someone wrote into dear old Brian Johnston on Test Match Special and he let the cat out of the bag.


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