Cricket, the game we all hold dear for its intricate strategies and diverse formats, has seen its fair share of rule changes over time. Among the many aspects that have evolved, the rules around short-pitched deliveries โ€” those thrilling deliveries that rise sharply towards the batsman’s head โ€” have caught our attention. These deliveries, known for their intimidation factor, have been given specific limitations to safeguard the players.

In this article, we’re diving into the world of short-pitched delivery regulations in various cricket formats. We’ll explore how many bouncers are allowed per over and uncover the rules that govern them.

Rules for Short-Pitched Deliveries

Test Cricket

When it comes to the traditional Test cricket format, where matches stretch up to multi-days, the rules regarding short-pitched deliveries are relatively laid-back. Bowlers can send down as many as two bouncers per over, setting the stage for intense battles between bowlers and batsmen.

One Day Internationals (ODIs)

As per the regulations, bowlers are limited to sending down a maximum of two short-pitched deliveries per over in ODIs. By restricting the number of these deliveries, the game stays exciting while ensuring a level playing field between bat and ball.

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Twenty20 (T20)

In the lightning-fast T20 cricket format, the rules get even tighter for short-pitched deliveries. Bowlers are allowed just one such delivery per over in T20 matches.

This rule ensures that the game maintains its rapid pace and minimises the risk of batsmen facing dangerous deliveries. This one-delivery rule encourages bowlers to concentrate on their precision, while batsmen get numerous chances to showcase their aggressive style of play.

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The Legal Side of Short-Pitched Deliveries

While the number of bouncers permitted varies across formats, the rules governing them are consistent. These deliveries are defined as ones that pass, or would have passed, above the shoulder height of the batsman while they’re standing upright at the crease.

In addition, a ball that passes above the head height of the batsman, standing upright at the popping crease, and prevents him from being able to hit it with his bat by means of a normal cricket store shall be called a wide.

According to the official Laws of Cricket laid out by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), if a bowler goes beyond the allowed number of short-pitched deliveries or sends one above shoulder height, it’s deemed a no-ball. The umpire signals this by calling and showing a “No ball,” accompanied by a head-tap gesture.

Additionally, if a bowler consistently delivers these types of deliveries that are deemed dangerous or intimidating, the umpire can give warnings and take appropriate action against the team.

Strategies and Impact

Bouncers play a significant role in shaping cricket matches. In Test cricket, bowlers often use them to disrupt a batsman’s rhythm and trick them into making mistakes. This strategy becomes even more critical when the pitch conditions result in uneven bounces.

In ODIs and T20 matches, where there are limitations, bowlers need to use these deliveries wisely. They might spring a short-pitched surprise to catch batsmen off-guard, especially when they’re anticipating other types of deliveries.

On the flip side, batsmen must stay ready to handle bouncers while keeping their aggressive intent intact.


The rules surrounding bouncers in cricket change with the format, reflecting the balance between excitement and safety.

Test cricket’s relaxed approach adds an unpredictable edge, while ODIs and T20 matches prioritise safety without sacrificing the thrill. Irrespective of the format, the regulations underscore the importance of player safety and the spirit of cricket.

As cricket continues to evolve, so might the rules for short-pitched deliveries. Understanding these rules enhances our enjoyment of the game and offers insights into the tactical choices made by players, captains, and coaches.

Whether it’s the enduring battles of Test cricket or the adrenaline-packed moments of T20 matches, short-pitched deliveries remain a vital thread in cricket’s rich tapestry, adding layers of excitement and challenge to our beloved sport.

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