When do Umpires Award Penalty Runs in Cricket?

As you know, cricket is a gentleman’s game, wherein players are expected to uphold the game spirit. However, we get to see some unsavoury moments that unfold on the field.

Now, these unpleasant instances can be like teams taking unfair advantage or poor conduct by a player on the field. To curb the teams and players from using unfair tactics, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) drew up laws to penalise them.

Under several laws of cricket, the umpires have the authority to award 5 penalty runs when a team or player is involved in any unfair action. 

One thing to note is umpires don’t straightaway give penalty runs in all instances. Barring a few circumstances, when any unfair action happens on the field by any player for the first time, the umpires give a first and final warning. If the offence occurs for the second time, then the umpires award the penalty runs to the opposition.

So, in this article, we’ll see when an umpire awards penalty runs to a team in cricket.

Unfair Actions

If the umpires believe that a player is carrying out any unfair activity on the field, then they will award 5 penalty runs to the opposition team.

Changing the Condition of the Ball (Ball Tampering)

If the umpires suspect any player tried to change the ball’s condition by any unfair means, they can penalise the concerned team by awarding 5 runs to the opposition team.

Distracting the Batter

Suppose any player from the fielding side attempts to intentionally distract the batters while receiving the ball or after receiving it. In that case, the umpires can award 5 penalty runs to the batting team.

Fielders or Batters Wasting Time

If a fielder from the fielding team or the batters are deliberately slowing the game or wasting time in any way, the umpires can award penalty runs to the opposition team.

Player Damaging the Pitch or Protected Area

If a fielder, bowler, or batter wilfully causes damage to the pitch or the protected area, the on-field umpires award 5 penalty runs to the opponent.

Also Read | Penalty Runs for Running on the Middle of Cricket Pitch

Batters Deliberately Taking a Short Run

If any batters from the batting side intentionally take a short run at either end of the pitch, the umpire standing on the concerned end will award 5 penalty runs to the fielding team.

Player Returning to the Field Without Permission

A player can leave the field by informing the umpire of the reason. If they want to return to the field, the player should get permission from the umpire. 

However, if the concerned player returns to the field without permission and comes in contact with the ball, then the officials will award 5 penalty runs to the batting side.

Illegal Movement by Wicketkeeper or Fielder

The wicketkeeper should refrain from making any unfair movement once the ball comes into play and reaches the batter on strike. If the umpires encounter any such event, they will award penalty runs to the batting team.

Similarly, if a fielder makes any illegal movement, it warrants penalty runs from the umpires.

Illegally Fielding the Ball

The fielders can use any part of their body to field the ball. However, they can’t use any clothing material, gloves (except for the wicketkeeper), or any other equipment. 

If the fielder attempts to field the ball using these prohibited things, the umpires will award 5 penalty runs to the batting team.

Ball Hits the Helmets of the Fielding Side

If the ball smashed by the batter hits any of the helmets placed behind the wicketkeeper, then the umpires will give penalty runs to the batting side.

Unacceptable Conduct by Players

If the umpires come across any unacceptable conduct from any player on the field, they can award penalty runs under Law 42 – Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4. You can read more about Law 42 here.

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