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No Ball in Cricket – What are the Rules and Know Their Types

To make the game of cricket fair to both the batters and the bowlers, several rules are in place, one of which is the no-ball. All types of dismissals are considered not out in case the delivery is signalled a no ball in cricket. In addition to that, the delivery has to be bowled again, and one run is added to the batting team’s total. The umpire will call a no ball in cricket by raising one of his arms at shoulder height. So what are the various types of no balls in cricket? Let us find out.

Front Foot No Ball

The most well-known type of no-ball in cricket is the front foot no-ball. This happens when the bowler oversteps the popping crease. For the delivery to be considered legal, the heel of the bowler’s front foot should be behind the drawn line when the ball leaves their hand.

In case of a front foot no-ball, the batting side is given one free run and an extra delivery. In limited-overs cricket, the next delivery is a free hit, which means the batter cannot be dismissed by methods that don’t include a run-out and field obstruction.  

Touching the Return Crease

Law 19 of the MCC explains what a return crease is –  “The return creases, which are the inside edges of the crease markings, shall be at right angles to the popping crease at a distance of 4 ft 4 in/1.32 m either side of the imaginary line joining the centers of the two middle stumps. Each return crease shall be marked from the popping crease to a minimum of 8 ft/2.44 m behind it and shall be considered to be unlimited in length.”

While delivering the ball, the bowler has to keep both his feet within the return crease to avoid bowling a no-ball. Unlike the front foot no-ball, both feet have to be within the return crease for the delivery to be deemed legal. The advantages received by the batting side are the same as the front foot no-ball.

A full toss no-ball

A full toss, i.e. a ball delivered above the waist length without any bounce, is also deemed a no-ball. It is interesting to note that a full toss is permissible from a slower bowler, as long as it does not go above the batsman’s shoulder. Most of the time, this type of delivery is unintentional, and the ball just happens to slip from the bowler’s hands. Advantages? Same. Extra run, ball and a free hit. Even if the ball does bounce and travels over the batter’s head, it will be called a no-ball. Additionally, a no-ball can be signalled if the ball bounces more than twice before reaching the batter. The game permits the ball to bounce not more than two times.

Uninformed change in bowling style

This is a rare form of no-ball and not one known by too many people. If the bowler does not inform the umpire of a change in their mode of delivery, the umpire will call it a no ball. If a right-arm bowler bowls left-arm without informing and vice-versa, the delivery will be deemed illegal. Under Law 21, the umpire needs to be informed whether the bowler will bowl right handed or left handed, and whether he/she will bowl over the wicket or round the wicket.

Throwing the ball before delivery

Under law 21.4, the umpires shall signal no ball if the bowler throws the ball towards the striker’s end before entering their delivery stride. This could stop the batter from taking a quick single. The penalty for this time of no-ball is the same as others.


If the umpire thinks that while delivering the ball the bowler’s arm was not straight, he can signal a no-ball. Throwing the ball in a way not allowed is called chucking. If the bowler does this more than once in the same innings, he/she can be removed from the attack. Rules allow the bowler to bend up to 15 degrees in the elbow joint while delivering the ball. Anything more than that, and the delivery will be deemed no-ball.  Usually the leg umpire is the best judge for this.

Fielding related no-balls

If more than two fielders are positioned on the leg side behind square, the ball can be deemed a no-ball. Also, if the bowler’s delivery has been obstructed by a fielder before it reaches the batter, the umpire can signal a no ball. This is an extremely rare type of no-ball.

Wicketkeeping related no-ball

As per laws, the wicket-keeper is not allowed to move closer to the stumps from the moment the ball comes into play and until it touches the bat, body or any other equipment of the batter, goes past the wickets at the striker’s end or until the batter on the strikers end tries to take a run. If the keeper comes ahead before any of these three take place, the ball will be deemed a no-ball.

If the bowlers touches the wickets

As per law 21.6, “If the bowler breaks the wickets after the ball comes into play but before completing the bowling stride such that the non-striker is not dismissed, then such either umpires are entitled to call and signal a No Ball“.

This basically means that if the bowler touches the wicket at the non-striker’s end while he is in the process of delivering the ball, a no ball will be called. The rule does not just apply to the bowler physically touching or breaking the wicket; even if his/her clothes or accessories touch the wicket, the umpire can signal a no-ball.

If the ball doesn’t reach the batter

What we are talking about here is the dead ball. Rule 21.8 states, “If a ball delivered by the bowler comes to rest in front of the line of the striker’s wicket without it having previously touched the bat or the batsman, the umpires shall call and signal a No Ball and immediately also call and signal a Dead Ball“.

Also read: IPL 2022 retention – Full List of Players Retained by Each IPL Franchise

Umaima Saeed
A writer who primarily writes on cricket. As of 2021, she has covered cricket for more than a dozen publications.


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