Umpire (cricket)

Umpire (cricket)
An umpire

In cricket, an umpire (from the Old French nompere meaning not equal, i.e. not a member of one of the teams, impartial) is a person who has the authority to make judgements on the cricket field, according to the Laws of Cricket. Besides making decisions about legality of delivery, appeals for wickets and general conduct of the game in a legal manner, the umpire also keeps a record of the deliveries and announces the completion of an over.

A cricket umpire is not to be confused with the referee who usually presides only over international matches and makes no decisions affecting the outcome of the game.



Traditionally, cricket matches have two umpires on the field, one standing at the end where the bowler delivers the ball (Bowler's end), and one directly opposite the facing batsman (usually, but not always, at square leg). However, in the modern game, there may be more than two umpires; for example Test Matches have four: two on-field umpires, a third umpire who has access to video replays, and a fourth umpire who looks after the match balls, takes out the drinks for the on-field umpires, and also arranges travel and meals for all of the umpires.

Since 2002, the ICC has two panels of umpires: namely the Elite Panel of Umpires (two of which are, in theory, appointed to each Test Match) and the larger International Panel of Umpires.

Professional matches also have a match referee, who complements the role of the umpires. The match referee makes no decisions relevant to the outcome of the game, but instead enforces the ICC Cricket Code of Conduct, ensuring the game is played in a reputable manner. The ICC appoints a match referee from its Elite Panel of Referees to adjudicate Test matches and One Day Internationals.

Minor cricket matches will often have trained umpires. The independent Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers (ACU&S), formed in 1955, used to conduct umpire training within the UK. However, following a ballot of its members, it was taken over by a new organisation, the ECB Association of Cricket Officials (ECB ACO) on 1 January 2008. Doubts remain about the validity of the result of the ballot as, unlike General Elections, the losing side were denied access to the 'count'. The ECB ACO has yet to finalise its plans for future umpire and scorer training and examination within the UK. Cricket Australia has introduced a two-tier accreditation scheme and eventually all umpires will be required to achieve the appropriate level of accreditation. The ages of umpires can vary enormously as some are former players, while others enter the cricketing world as umpires. Physical disability need not necessarily be a barrier - in Victoria a 19 year old with cerebral palsy has achieved the national Level 2 accreditation, is umpiring in a country competition, has umpired a statewide carnival, and has been recognised for his achievement by Cricket Victoria. The youngest umpire to achieve Level 2 Accreditation was a 15 year old male West Australian in 2009.

Nevertheless, in accordance with the tradition of cricket, most ordinary, local games will have two umpires, one supplied by each side, who will fairly enforce the accepted rules.


The cricket umpire lever counter, an example of a device used by umpires to count the number of balls in an over

When a ball is being bowled, one umpire (the bowler's end umpire) stands behind the stumps at the non-striker's end (that is, the end from which the ball is being bowled), which gives him a view straight down the pitch.

The second (the striker's end umpire) takes the position that he feels gives him the best view of the play. Through long tradition, this is usually square leg - in line with the popping crease and a few yards to the batsman's leg side - hence he is sometimes known as the square leg umpire.

However, if a fielder takes up position at square leg or somewhere so as to block his view, or if there is an injured batsman with a runner, then the umpire must move somewhere else - typically either a short distance or to point on the opposite side of the batsman. If the square-leg umpire elects to stand at point, he is required to inform both the batsmen, the captain of the fielding team, and his colleague. He may also move to the point position later in the afternoon if the setting sun prevents a clear view of the popping crease at his end.

It is up to the umpires to keep out of the way of both the ball and the players. In particular, if the ball is hit and the players attempt a run, then the umpire behind the stumps will generally retreat to the side, in case the fielding side attempts a run out at that end.

At the end of each over, the two umpires will exchange roles. Because the bowlers end alternates between overs, this means they only move a short distance.

For certain decisions during a match, the on-field umpire may refer to the Third Umpire if there is one appointed, who has access to television replays. The Third Umpire is most often used in the case of run-outs, where the action is too fast for the naked eye but can be also used to decide the cases of disputed boundaries and catches, when the umpires cannot decide if the ball has struck the ground before being caught (but not to decide whether or not the ball in fact struck the bat or gloves of a batsman). Third Umpire referrals for LBW dismissals have also been trialled in the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy is Sri Lanka, and in the 2007 English Domestic Pro40 competition, and are currently being trialled in international matches.

Decisions and signals

During play, the umpire at the bowler's end makes the decisions, which he mainly indicates using arm movements. Some decisions must be instantaneous, whereas for others he may pause to think or discuss it with the square leg umpire, especially if the latter may have had a better view.

When the ball is in play

These decisions have an important effect on the play and are signalled straight away.


An umpire signalling the batsman as out

An umpire will not give a batsman out unless an appeal is made by the fielding side, though a batsman may walk if he knows himself to be out. This is nowadays rare, especially in Tests and first-class matches for contentious decisions; however, it is the norm for a batsman to walk when he is out bowled or out to an obvious catch. If the fielding side believes a batsman is out, the fielding side must appeal, by asking "How's that?", "Wot Wot" or "How was he?", (or by any other means that either umpire deems as a method of appealing.)

The umpire's response is either to raise his index finger above his head to indicate that the batsman is out, or to clearly say "not out", which is usually accompanied with a shake of the head. (See BBC Sport). The 'out' signal is the only signal that the scorer does not have to acknowledge.[1]


Either umpire may call, and signal, No Ball, for a ball which is illegally delivered (bowled), although each umpire has unique jurisdictions. The most usual causes for No Balls are foot faults or a ball passing above a batsman's head, each of these being under the bowler's end umpire's jurisdiction. The square-leg umpire will rarely have to call a No Ball, as his jurisdiction is limited to infringements which very rarely occur. The signal is to hold one arm out horizontally and shout "no-ball"; the idea being that the batsman is aware of the no-ball being bowled. BBC Sport. The no-ball doesn't count as one of the six in the over, and severely reduces the ways in which a batsman may be out (from 11 to 5), with the most common forms of dismissal all being removed, except for Run Out. The batsman may attempt to score runs from the 'extra' ball, however. In matches under the auspices of the ICC, it may also be a no-ball if the umpire feels that the bowler's arm is bent more than 15 degrees (Throwing rather than bowling). The ICC have chosen to amend Law 24.3 (Definition of Fair Delivery - the arm) as a result of controversy concerning the legality or otherwise of bowling actions of certain prominent bowlers.


A Wide Ball is the term used to describe an illegal delivery in cricket, which is illegal due to it being "wide of the striker where he is standing and would also have passed wide of him standing in a normal guard position." (Law 25) A wide signalled by extending both arms out horizontally and is accompanied by a call of Wide Ball. It does not count in the over, and again reduces the way in which a batsman can be out (from 11 to 6; one can be stumped off at wide).This matter is uncomplete If a delivery satisfies the criteria for both a No Ball and a Wide, the call and penalty of No Ball will take precedent.

Dead ball

If the ball is no-longer considered in play or if it bounced too many times, it is a dead ball. An umpire will signal this, by crossing and uncrossing his wrists below his waist with the call Dead Ball, if he is required to do so under certain Laws, and also may do it if he thinks it is necessary to inform the players. See BBC Sport.

Signals to scorers

It is important that the scorers note down the play accurately and therefore the appropriate signals will be made by the umpire when the ball is dead. In addition to the following, the umpire repeats signals of dead ball, wide, and no-ball to the scorers. Scorers are required to acknowledge the signals from umpires; and umpires are required to get an acknowledgement before allowing the match to proceed.


If a batsman scores four by hitting the ball across the boundary (not by actually running them), the umpire signals this by waving his arm back and forth in front of the chest. This signal varies a lot between umpires, from two short, restrained, waves finishing with the arm across the chest, to elaborate signals that resemble those of a conductor of an orchestra. See BBC Sport. Whichever way the umpire signals a four he must, by law, finish with his arm across the chest (so as to avoid confusion about whether a No Ball was delivered as well).


A six scored by hitting the ball over the boundary is signalled by the umpire raising both hands above his head, often in a celebratory manner. See BBC Sport. It must be emphasised that for a six to be scored the ball must come off the bat, so it is impossible to have six byes for a ball crossing the boundary (without there being overthrows).


If runs are to be scored as byes, the umpire will hold up one open palm above the head. See BBC Sport.

Leg bye

Leg byes are signalled by the umpire touching a raised knee. See BBC Sport.

Short run

If one of the batsman turns to complete runs after the first without grounding his person or equipment behind the popping crease, then a short run is signalled by the umpire tapping his near shoulder with his fingers and the short runs are not scored. If more than one run is short, the umpire will inform the scorers as to the number of runs scored. See BBC Sport. There is also a case of deliberate short running, where the umpire will disallow all runs, although this is a rather rare occurrence.

Television replay

If the umpire is unsure of a "line decision," that is, a run out or stumped decision, or if the umpire is unsure that the ball is a four, six, or neither, he may refer the matter to the Third Umpire. The umpires may additionally refer decisions to the Third Umpire regarding Bump Balls and catches being taken cleanly (but only after the on-field umpires have consulted and both were unsighted). The Third Umpire is not used except in international or important domestic matches. The signal to refer a matter is using both hands to mime a TV screen by making a box shape. See BBC Sport.

Penalty runs

For extreme misconduct by one team, the umpire may award five penalty runs to the other team. Placing one arm on the opposite shoulder indicates that the penalty run are awarded to the fielding team, but if the umpire taps that shoulder, the penalties are awarded to the batting team. See BBC Sport.

Five penalty runs are more commonly awarded when the ball strikes a foreign object on the field, usually a helmet of the fielding side .

Last hour

In Test cricket and first class cricket, the last hour of the last day of play has special significance. First, there is a minimum number of overs (20 in the Laws of Cricket, fifteen in Tests) that must be bowled in the last hour. Second, and more importantly, a result must be reached before the time elapses and the umpire calls "stumps" for the match to have a winner; otherwise, the match ends with a draw and no winner. The umpire signals the last hour by pointing to his wrist (and the watch on it), which is raised above his head. See BBC Sport.

Revoke last signal

If the umpire makes an incorrect signal, he may revoke it. To do so, he crosses his arms across his chest, then makes the corrected signal. A revocation may be made if the umpire discovers an incorrect application of the laws, such as, signaling "out" before realizing that the other umpire signaled a no-ball. Also, an umpire may revoke if he accidentally signals a four though he intended to signal six. See BBC Sport. With the implementation of the Decision Review System, a signal may also be revoked if the Third Umpire reports that his review supports reversing the call.

New Ball

In matches lasting more than two days the captain usually has the option of taking another new ball after a set number of overs (usually 80) have taken place since a new ball was introduced (an innings always begins with a new ball). The umpire at the bowler's end signals to the scorers that a new ball has been taken by holding the ball above his head. The scorers note the time that the new ball has been taken.

If the ball is damaged to the extent that it gives either team a disadvantage, it is replaced with a used undamaged ball in similar condition. In 2007 the International Cricket Council (ICC) brought in a new law stipulating that, in One Day Internationals, after 35 overs have been bowled the ball must be replaced with a clean used ball. The balls used in One Day Internationals are white and become discoloured very easily, especially on dusty or abrasive pitches, and thus the ball change is deemed necessary to ensure that the ball is easily visible.Vinay Duwadi See [1].

Challenge System

At the end of 2008, the ICC began trialling a challenge system in International Matches. This works as follows; When a decision has been made by the on-field umpire (either out or not-out), then either the batsmen or fielding player (depending on which way the decision went), can decide to refer the decision to the Third Umpire. This is signaled by making a "T" symbol with the arms. The Third Umpire can then use only basic technology to judge whether there is any reason to overrule the on-field umpires decision. If the Third Umpire decides that the on-field umpire made an incorrect decision then he will inform the on-field umpire, via headsets, of what he has seen and tell him to either change his decision or to stay with his original decision. This system is normally only used for LBW (to determine if the delivery meets all the LBW criteria) or caught behind decisions (to determine if the ball had made contact with the bat or gloves and thus been "hit").

Like the similar system used in tennis, each team gets three challenges per innings. If the challenge results in a reversed call, the team keeps the challenge; a challenge is therefore only deducted when a call is upheld.

This system is currently being used only in Test Match cricket. The system is also used in World Cup 2011.

Power Play

ICC has introduced a system of Powerplays in One-day Internationals which restrict the number of fielders outside the 30 yard circle. Besides the first 10 overs of an innings, each team captain can invoke one non-overlapping Powerplay lasting five overs. Once a team captain decides to use the Powerplay (or the circumstances prevent the Powerplay being taken any later, forcing it to be invoked), the umpire indicates the start of the Powerplay by moving his arm in circular fashion in front.


Most Test matches as an umpire as of August 9, 2010:[2]

Umpire Period Matches
Jamaica Steve Bucknor 1989–2009 128
South Africa Rudi Koertzen 1992–2010 108
England David Shepherd 1985–2005 92
Australia Daryl Harper 1998–present 90
Australia Darrell Hair 1992–2008 78

Most ODI matches as an umpire as of August 13, 2010:[3]

Umpire Period Matches
South Africa Rudi Koertzen 1992–2010 209
Jamaica Steve Bucknor 1989–2009 181
England David Shepherd 1983–2005 172
Australia Daryl Harper 1994–present 166
Australia Simon Taufel 1999–present 154

Most T20I matches as an umpire as of July 6, 2010:[4]

Umpire Period Matches
Australia Simon Taufel 2007–present 26
England Mark Benson 2007–2009 19
Pakistan Aleem Dar 2009–present 18
New Zealand Billy Bowden 2005–present 18
Dominica Billy Doctrove 2007–present 17

See also

References and links

  • IICUS (the International Institute of Cricket Umpires and Scorers)- a joint UK-Australia venture - provides quality training and examination for umpires. In addition to running umpires courses in the UK and Australia, it has held an umpire training course in Nepal at the request of the ICC. The ICUS BTEC in Cricket Umpiring is an Intermediate Certificate equivalent to Level 2 of the National Vocational Qualification Framework (NVQs)
  • ECB [England and Wales Cricket Board] Association of Cricket Officials (who took over from the independent Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers on 1 January 2008) intend to provide umpire training and qualifications within the United Kingdom from Autumn 2008
  • New South Wales Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association (NSWCUSA), the second largest umpire and scorers' association in the world (with two current test umpires in its membership)
  • To access a copy of the Laws of Cricket
  • Australian Umpires have access to a comprehensive interactive CD-Rom featuring the laws of cricket, video interviews with some of the world's top umpires and educational modules to improve knowledge and technique
  • For a comprehensive guide to the laws and their interpretation, and for advice on umpires' field-craft and general technique: Tom Smith's New Cricket Umpiring and Scoring. ISBN 0-297-84724-4
  • specialise in the supply of the above, and many other, books and equipment for cricket umpires and scorers - also coaches, players and spectators.
  • Berkshire Cricket Officials Association provides support for Umpires and Scorers who officiate for their local clubs or those wishing to develop and progress on and through through league panels within Berkshire The Berkshire Cricket Officials Web Site.

External links

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