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Law 21 - No ball

THE LAW

21.1 Mode of delivery

21.1.1 The umpire shall ascertain whether the bowler intends to bowl right handed or left handed, over or round the wicket, and shall so inform the striker.

It is unfair if the bowler fails to notify the umpire of a change in his/her mode of delivery.  In this case the umpire shall call and signal No ball.

21.1.2 Underarm bowling shall not be permitted except by special agreement before the match.

21.2 Fair delivery – the arm

For a delivery to be fair in respect of the arm the ball must not be thrown. 

A ball is fairly delivered in respect of the arm if, once the bowler’s arm has reached the level of the shoulder in the delivery swing, the elbow joint is not straightened partially or completely from that instant until the ball has left the hand.  This definition shall not debar a bowler from flexing or rotating the wrist in the delivery swing.

Although it is the primary responsibility of the striker’s end umpire to assess the fairness of a delivery in this respect, there is nothing in this Law to debar the bowler’s end umpire from calling and signalling No ball if he/she considers that the ball has been thrown.

21.3 Ball thrown or delivered underarm – action by umpires

21.3.1 After the bowler has entered his/her delivery stride, if in the opinion of either umpire the ball has been thrown or, unless permitted by agreement in 21.1.2, delivered underarm, that umpire shall call and signal No ball and, when the ball is dead, inform the other umpire of the reason for the call.

The bowler’s end umpire shall then

- warn the bowler, indicating that this is a first and final warning.  This warning shall apply to that bowler throughout the innings.

- inform the captain of the fielding side of the reason for this action.

- inform the batsmen at the wicket of what has occurred.

21.3.2 If either umpire considers that, in that innings, a further delivery by the same bowler is thrown or, unless permitted by agreement in 21.1.2, delivered underarm, he/she shall call and signal No ball and when the ball is dead inform the other umpire of the reason for the call.

The bowler’s end umpire shall then

- direct the captain of the fielding side to suspend the bowler immediately from bowling.  The over shall, if applicable, be completed by another bowler, who shall neither have bowled the previous over or part thereof nor be allowed to bowl any part of the next over.  The bowler thus suspended shall not bowl again in that innings.

- inform the batsmen at the wicket and, as soon as practicable, the captain of the batting side of the reason for this action.

21.3.3 The umpires together shall report the occurrence as soon as possible after the match to the Executive of the offending side and to any Governing Body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain, any other individuals concerned and, if appropriate, the team.

21.4 Bowler throwing towards striker’s end before delivery

If the bowler throws the ball towards the striker’s end before entering the delivery stride, either umpire shall call and signal No ball.  See Law 41.17 (Batsmen stealing a run).  However, the procedure stated in 21.3 of first and final warning, informing, action against the bowler and reporting shall not apply.

21.5 Fair delivery – the feet

For a delivery to be fair in respect of the feet, in the delivery stride

21.5.1 the bowler’s back foot must land within and not touching the return crease appertaining to his/her stated mode of delivery.

21.5.2 the bowler’s front foot must land with some part of the foot, whether grounded or raised

-       on the same side of the imaginary line joining the two middle stumps as the return crease described in 21.5.1, and

-       behind the popping crease.

If the bowler’s end umpire is not satisfied that all of these three conditions have been met, he/she shall call and signal No ball.  See Law 41.8 (Bowling of deliberate front foot No ball).

21.6 Bowler breaking wicket in delivering ball

Either umpire shall call and signal No ball if, other than in an attempt to run out the non-striker under Law 41.16 (Non-striker leaving his/her ground early), the bowler breaks the wicket at any time after the ball comes into play and before completion of the stride after the delivery stride. This shall include any clothing or other object that falls from his/her person and breaks the wicket. See Appendix A.12. Laws 20.4.2.8, 20.4.2.9 (Umpire calling and signalling Dead ball) and 21.12 will apply.

21.7 Ball bouncing more than once, rolling along the ground or pitching off the pitch

The umpire shall call and signal No ball if a ball which he/she considers to have been delivered, without having previously touched bat or person of the striker,

- bounces more than once or rolls along the ground before it reaches the popping crease 

or

- pitches wholly or partially off the pitch as defined in Law 6.1 (Area of pitch) before it reaches the line of the striker’s wicket.  When a non-turf pitch is being used, this will apply to any ball that wholly or partially pitches off the artificial surface.

21.8 Ball coming to rest in front of striker’s wicket

If a ball delivered by the bowler comes to rest in front of the line of the striker’s wicket, without having previously touched the bat or person of the striker, the umpire shall call and signal No ball and immediately call and signal Dead ball.

21.9 Fielder intercepting a delivery

If, except in the circumstances of Law 27.3 (Position of wicket-keeper), a ball delivered by the bowler makes contact with any part of a fielder’s person before it either makes contact with the striker’s bat or person, or it passes the striker’s wicket, the umpire shall call and signal No ball and immediately call and signal Dead ball.

21.10 Ball bouncing over head height of striker

The umpire shall call and signal No ball for any delivery which, after pitching, passes or would have passed over head height of the striker standing upright at the popping crease.

21.11 Call of No ball for infringement of other Laws

In addition to the instances above, No ball is to be called and signalled as required by the following Laws.

Law 27.3 – Position of wicket-keeper

Law 28.4 – Limitation of on side fielders

Law 28.5 – Fielders not to encroach on pitch

Law 41.6 – Bowling of dangerous and unfair short pitched deliveries

Law 41.7 – Bowling of dangerous and unfair non-pitching deliveries

Law 41.8 – Bowling of deliberate front foot No ball.

21.12 Revoking a call of No ball

An umpire shall revoke the call of No ball if Dead ball is called under any of Laws 20.4.2.4 to 20.4.2.9 (Umpire calling and signalling Dead ball). 

21.13 No ball to over-ride Wide

A call of No ball shall over-ride the call of Wide ball at any time.  See Laws 22.1(Judging a Wide) and 22.2 (Call and signal of Wide ball).

21.14 Ball not dead

The ball does not become dead on the call of No ball.

21.15 Penalty for a No ball

A penalty of one run shall be awarded instantly on the call of No ball.  Unless the call is revoked, the penalty shall stand even if a batsman is dismissed.  It shall be in addition to any other runs scored, any boundary allowance and any other runs awarded for penalties.

21.16 Runs resulting from a No ball – how scored

The one run penalty shall be scored as a No ball extra and shall be debited against the bowler.  If other Penalty runs have been awarded to either side these shall be scored as stated in Law 41.18 (Penalty runs).  Any runs completed by the batsmen or any boundary allowance shall be credited to the striker if the ball has been struck by the bat; otherwise they shall also be scored as Byes or Leg byes as appropriate. 

21.17 No ball not to count

A No ball shall not count as one of the over.  See Law 17.3 (Validity of balls).

21.18 Out from a No ball

When No ball has been called, neither batsman shall be out under any of the Laws except 34 (Hit the ball twice), 37 (Obstructing the field) or 38 (Run out).

© Marylebone Cricket Club 2017

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Listen to actor, broadcaster and writer Stephen Fry, a well known cricket enthusiast and occasional umpire, bring his authoritative voice to the narration of this animation of the law. 

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