Explained: Penalty Runs for Running on the Middle of Cricket Pitch

During the third Test match between India and England, the Indian team incurred a penalty of 5 runs. The reason behind the penalty was India’s batters ran on the middle part of the pitch.

But why is running on the pitch an offence? And what is the penalty?

In this article, let’s understand the laws about players causing damage to the pitch.

Damaging the Pitch

According to the MCC’s Laws of Cricket, it is unfair if a batter or a bowler deliberately tries to damage the pitch or enter the protected area. 

In the case of a bowler, under Law 41.13, a bowler shouldn’t enter the protected area during their follow-through, irrespective of whether they deliver the ball or not. If this happens, then it is considered to be taking an unfair advantage by damaging the pitch.

Similarly, under Law 41.14, a batter shouldn’t cause any “deliberate or avoidable damage” to the protected area while playing the ball or taking a run.

But what is the protected area on the pitch?

The protected area, or danger area, is the middle part of the pitch. It is a rectangular section that starts 5 feet in front of the popping crease on both sides.

Players are not allowed to run on the protected area as they might damage the pitch through their spiked shoes. And either team can take an unfair advantage by exploiting the damaged part.

Also Read | Explained: What is a Timed Out Dismissal in Cricket?

Penalty for Bowler Running on the Protected Area

If a bowler enters the protected area for the first time, then the umpires give a first warning to the bowler and the fielding team’s captain. 

If the same bowler breaches the law again, a final warning will be given. And if the bowler does it for the third time, then the bowler is suspended from bowling immediately for the rest of the innings.

Penalty for Batter Running on the Protected Area

If any batter runs along the middle of the pitch or the protected area for the first time, the umpire will give a first and final warning to both batters. The warning will continue to apply throughout the innings.

And if any batter commits the offence repeatedly in the innings, the umpire then awards 5 runs to the fielding side.

The 5 penalty runs are added to the fielding team’s total runs in recently finished innings. If they haven’t batted yet, the penalty runs are added to their next innings total score.

Instances of Bowlers and Batters Penalised

During a Test match between England and Pakistan in 2016, James Anderson, the experienced English pacer, faced suspension for running on the protected area during his follow-through three times.

While, during the India and England Test in February 2024, the umpires slapped the Indian team with a 5-run penalty for batters running on the middle of the pitch. Ravindra Jadeja breached the law first, followed by Ravi Ashwin, after which the umpires awarded 5 runs to the fielding side. This time, England benefited due to India’s offence, as they got 5 extra runs.

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