The Roar
The Roar



How many modes of dismissal are there? Too many - the precious ‘spirit of cricket’ tarnished by outdated, unnecessary laws

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5th February, 2024

Dear Mr ICC President, there are too many modes of dismissals nowadays. Please eliminate three. I am not a crackpot. 

The latest round of controversial dismissals in cricket has again highlighted some of the oddities of this sport. 

England under-19 batter Hamza Shaikh is the latest unfortunate victim of the vagaries of the Laws of Cricket after he was given out for obstructing the field for the extremely nefarious ploy of tossing the ball back to the wicketkeeper after it had stopped dead at his feet. 

He gained no advantage by his actions – it is ludicrous that the Laws of Cricket allow teams even the option of appealing for a dismissal in such circumstances, let alone the fact that it can lead to a batter being given out.

NSW all-rounder Chris Green was lucky to survive an obstructing the field verdict the following day in Perth when he blocked a throw at the stumps from seamer Charlie Stobo. 

There was some grey area in his incident – the Laws of Cricket say you can’t deliberately impede the ball’s path for what was potentially a run-out if you are outside your crease unless you are protecting yourself.

Green did not appear to be in great danger from the throw which bounced in front of his feet and probably would have hit him in the pads if not for the second forward defensive shot he played in the space of a few seconds. 


These incidents come on the back of Sri Lankan veteran Angelo Mathews being given timed out at the World Cup in November when Bangladeshi skipper Shakib al Hasan took advantage of his opponent’s helmet strap breaking before he faced up to his first delivery.

Cricket’s lawmakers can eradicate this kind of nonsense with a few strokes of the pen. 

They have already streamlined the modes of dismissal slightly by meshing Handled The Ball into the Obstructing The Field law in 2017. 

That was a good start.

The rarely seen Hit The Ball Twice dismissal can also be folded into the Obstructing The Field law. 

Legend has it that way back in the 1600s (or was that 19-Dickety-2?), a player was killed in the early forms of cricket when a batter hit the ball into the air then went to strike it again but made contact with the head of a fielder. 


As it stands today, Law 34 for Hit The Ball Twice reads that the batter is out if “while the ball is in play, it strikes any part of his/her person or is struck by his/her bat and, before the ball has been touched by a fielder, the striker wilfully strikes it again with his/her bat or person, other than a hand not holding the bat, except for the sole purpose of guarding his/her wicket.”

Sounds kind of like they’re “obstructing” the “field” in this scenario, don’t it?

The England under-19 incident could also have been avoided if a five-run penalty was enacted for any time a batter touched the ball whether it was live or not.

Make it like in basketball after a made basket. The batter should not touch the ball under any circumstances – bowlers get very shirty if their sweaty gloves affect the pristine condition of the six-stitcher.

It means fielders will have to run in and get it even when it drops to the ground like this incident but it avoids situations where batters like Virat Kohli pick it up with impunity because he knows nobody would dare appeal against him.


Timed Out should also be brought back from a dismissal to a five-run penalty. 

The batter has three minutes to face up. If they’re not ready, being dismissed is too great a punishment, which is why it’s hardly ever enforced. 

In professional cricket, the third umpire should be monitoring the time and enforcing it strictly – put the countdown on the big screen and you can be sure that no batter will ever be tardy again. 

There’s a trial on at the moment to speed up the game with a timer on the fielding sides between overs. Anything that can get the game moving along quicker is worthwhile.

The third mode of dismissal which should not result in someone being out is the run out at the non-striker’s end, which unfairly carries the “Mankading” badge of dishonour even though it’s one of the rare ways a bowler can balance the ledger of laws that are heavily skewed in the batting team’s favour.

It is ridiculous that it’s only a dismissal if the fielding team appeals – no such requirement is written into the law for your garden variety run-out.

This convention opens up the can of worms about whether a bowler give a warning before carrying out this supposedly dastardly deed. 


The batter is either fairly caught out of their ground or not. 

If the lawmakers switched this form of a run-out to a five-run penalty it would likely make it less stigmatised.

The only time it seems to be employed in any form of cricket is for one of two reasons – general shithousery by a player holding a grudge against an opponent (you’re never going to stamp that out) or when the match is on the line and the non-striker is trying to leave their crease early to gain an unfair advantage in search of the final few runs. 

Another option is to remove the option for the bowler to break the stumps and leave the adjudication of whether a non-striker is leaving early to the umpires, like the no-ball law.

While the standing umpire is watching the front crease for a no-ball, their comrade at square-leg can be keeping an eye on the non-striker at the point of the bowler’s release.

They’re obviously not in the best position to adjudicate on line-ball calls but if a non-striker is clearly getting out of the blocks too early, the square-leg umpire should be able to ping them for their transgression. 


Maybe after making these changes, the ICC rules committee can update the preamble to the laws which govern the spirit of cricket.

Under the section marked “accept the umpire’s decision”, an addition needs to be tacked on to say “especially if you are a dozy batter caught out of their crease by a quick-thinking wicketkeeper while the ball is in play, giving you zero recourse to sook about it”.