An umpire 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.
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.
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. Scorers are required to acknowledge the signals from umpires; and umpires are required to get an acknowledgement before allowing the match to proceed.
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. If the fielding side believes a batsman is out, the fielding side must appeal, by asking "How's that?" 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. The 'out' signal is the only signal that the scorer does not have to acknowledge.
A batsman may be out in numerous ways:
- Caught: If a ball hits the bat or the hand holding the bat and is then caught by the opposition within the field of play before the ball bounces, then the batsman is out.
- Bowled: A batsman is out if his wicket is put down by a ball delivered by the bowler. It is irrelevant whether the ball has touched the bat, glove, or any part of the batsman before going on to put down the wicket, though it may not touch another player or an umpire before doing so.
- Leg before wicket (LBW): If the ball hits the batsman without first hitting the bat, but would have hit the wicket if the batsman was not there, and the ball does not pitch on the leg side of the wicket, the batsman will be out. However, if the ball strikes the batsman outside the line of the off-stump, and the batsman was attempting to play a stroke, he is not out.
- Run out: A batsman is out if at any time while the ball is in play no part of his bat or person is grounded behind the popping crease and his wicket is fairly put down by the opposing side.
- Stumped: A batsman is out when the wicket-keeper puts down the wicket, while the batsman is out of his crease and not attempting a run.
- Hit wicket: If, after the bowler has entered his delivery stride and while the ball is in play, a batsman puts his wicket down by his bat or his body he is out. The striker is also out hit wicket if he puts his wicket down by his bat or his body in setting off for a first run. "Body" includes the clothes and equipment of the batsman.
- Handled the ball: If a batsman willfully handles the ball with a hand that is not touching the bat without the consent of the opposition, he is out.
- Hit the ball twice: If a batsman hits the ball twice, other than for the sole purpose of protecting his wicket or with the consent of the opposition, he is out.
- Obstructing the field: If a batsman willfully obstructs the opposition by word or action, he is out.
- Timed out: An incoming batsman must be ready to face a ball (or be at the crease with his partner ready to face a ball) within 3 minutes of the outgoing batsman being dismissed, otherwise the incoming batsman will be out.
An umpire will signal a dead ball by holding one arm out horizontally and shout "no ball". 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, with the most common forms of dismissal all being removed, except for run out. The batsman may attempt to score runs from the no ball.
No balls occur in numerous ways:
- If the bowler bowls without some part of the front foot either grounded or in the air behind the popping crease.
- If the bowler bowls with the back foot not wholly inside the return crease.
- If the bowler bowls more than a ball above head height.
- If the bowler throws, rather than bowls, the ball (bowler's arm is bent more than 15 degrees).
- If the bowler changes the arm with which he bowls without notifying the umpire.
- If the bowler changes the side of the wicket from which he bowls without notifying the umpire.
- If the bowler bowls underarm unless this style of delivery is agreed before the match.
- If the bowler throws the ball towards the striker's wicket before entering the "delivery stride".
- If the ball does not touch the ground in its flight between the wickets and reaches the batsman at a height above either his waist when delivered by a fast bowler (this delivery is called a 'Beamer') or the shoulder when delivered by a slow bowler.
- If the ball bounces more than twice, or rolls along the ground, before reaching the popping crease at the striker's end.
- If the ball comes to rest in front of the line of the striker's wicket.
- If the wicket keeper moves any part of his person in front of the line of the stumps before either a) the ball strikes the batsman's person or bat; or b) the ball passes the line of the stumps.
- If a fielder (not including bowler) has any part of their body grounded or in the air over the pitch.
- If there are more than two fielders that are on the leg side and behind the batsman's crease.
A wide ball is the term used to describe a delivery which is too wide or too high to be hit by the batsman. A wide is 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. If a delivery satisfies the criteria for both a no ball and a wide, the call and penalty of no ball will take precedent.
Normally, if the ball passes the batsman without being deflected, the wicketkeeper will catch it. This normally prevents the scoring of runs because the batsmen will be unable to complete a run before being stumped or run out by the wicketkeeper. However, if the wicketkeeper fumbles or misses the ball, the batsmen may be able to score runs safely, and may choose to do so. The number of runs scored are scored as byes. They are added to the team's total, but not to the number of runs scored by either batsman and will not be considered as runs conceded by the bowler. If runs are to be scored as byes, the umpire will hold up one open palm above the head.
If the ball deflects off the batsman's body and needs to be gathered by a fielder, the batsmen may have the opportunity to score runs safely, and may choose to do so. The number of runs scored are scored as leg byes. They are added to the team's total, but not to the number of runs scored by batsman and will not be considered as runs conceded by the bowler. Leg byes are signalled by the umpire touching a raised knee.
An umpire will, in certain circumstances (first five points below), signal a dead ball by crossing and uncrossing his wrists below his waist with the call “dead ball”.
Dead balls occur in numerous ways:
- The umpire is satisfied that, with adequate reason, the batsman is not ready for the delivery of the ball.
- The ball lodges in the clothing or equipment of a batsman or umpire.
- The ball lodges in a protective helmet worn by a fielder.
- The batsmen attempt to run leg byes, and, in the umpire's opinion, no attempt was made either to hit the ball with the bat or to evade it. This nullifies the leg byes.
- The umpire intervenes in the occurrence of injury or unfair play.
- The ball passes the batsman, is gathered by the wicketkeeper, and the batsmen obviously decline to attempt to take runs.
- The ball is finally settled in the hands of the wicket-keeper or the bowler, and the batsmen obviously decline to attempt to take any more runs.
- The umpire feels that both the fielding team and the batsmen consider the ball no longer to be in play.
- The ball reaches the boundary and four runs or six runs are scored.
- Either batsman is out.
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.
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.
Disregard Last Signal
Five penalty runs are more commonly awarded when the ball strikes a foreign object on the field, usually a helmet of the fielding side.
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, signalling "out" before realising that the other umpire signalled a no-ball. Also, an umpire may revoke if he accidentally signals a four though he intended to signal six.
If a batsman scores four by hitting the ball across the boundary (not by actually running them), the umpire signals by waving his arm back and forth in front of the chest.
If a batsman scores six by hitting the ball across the boundary (not by actually running them), the umpire signals by raising both hands above his head.