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Law 5 in Action

A Bringing ‘lost’ ball back into use when found


The match ball is lost and cannot be found immediately. The umpires let play continue with a replacement ball. The original ball is found later. Should it be returned to use

(a) if it is only a few minutes since it was lost?

(b) if it is not found until an hour later?


(a) Yes. The replacement ball is virtually certain to have been in different condition from the original, because the chances of having a spare to match the original exactly at any particular point are very low. The condition of the ball can have considerable effect on play and it is fairer to return to the original.

(b) This is a very different situation. The replacement ball was at the time as good a match as could be obtained, though not perfect. After another hour’s use it will have deteriorated considerably. Meanwhile the original ball has not been subjected to that amount of wear and tear. To bring back into use a ball in what is effectively much better condition could have an impact on play.

The difficulty is in laying down how long the original has to have been missing, before saying it would be better not to resume its use. Umpires must judge how much the replacement has deteriorated and take into account how close or otherwise it was to the original when the replacement was made.

[Law reference: 5.5]

Ball splitting in two


What happens if a ball hit by the striker splits in two on impact, one part remaining within the field of play, the other carrying on over the boundary?


The Laws refer in all cases to ‘the ball’, not to part of it. It must be ‘the ball’ that fulfils the conditions for a boundary to be scored in Law 19. Therefore in this case no boundary has been scored. There are many other situations involving the ball which will not be valid if only part of the ball is involved. It must be ‘the ball’ that is held by a fielder for a catch, puts down the wicket for a run out or stumping and so on. Under Law 3.6(b), the umpires cannot allow play to proceed, since ‘the ball’ no longer conforms to the requirements of Law 5.

As soon as either umpire becomes aware that the ball has broken in two, he should immediately call and signal Dead ball. The striker has played the ball, therefore it will count as one of the over.

[Law reference: 5.5, 3.6]

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