Handled the ball

Handled the ball was formerly one of the methods of dismissing a batsman in the sport of cricket, but was integrated into the Law on obstructing the field when the Laws of Cricket were rewritten in 2017.[1] It dictated that either batsman can be given out if they intentionally touch the ball with a hand that is not holding their bat. An exception was given if the batsman handled the ball to avoid injury. It was governed by Law 33 of the 2000 Edition of the Laws, and was a rare way for a batsman to be dismissed: in the history of cricket, there have been 61 instances in first-class matches and 5 occasions in List A games. In most cases this occurred when a batsman thought that the ball was going to hit their wicket, and knocked it away from the stumps with their hand.

In international cricket, only ten dismissals were given in this fashion; on seven occasions in Test cricket and three times in One Day Internationals. The South African Russell Endean became the first victim of this method in international cricket when he was dismissed in a 1957 Test match against England. The final occurrence was in an ODI in 2015, when Chamu Chibhabha of Zimbabwe was given out against Afghanistan.


Handled the ball was Law 33 in the Laws of Cricket established by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).[2] A batsman could be given out for handling the ball if, while playing a delivery, the batsman intentionally touched the ball with one or both of their hands not holding the bat. A decision of not out would be reached if the batsman handled the ball to avoid incurring an injury.[2] A bowler did not receive credit for the wicket when a batsman was dismissed in this fashion.[2]


As a method of dismissal, handling the ball was included in the Laws of Cricket from the original code, written in 1744. In that document, it stated that "If ye Striker touches or takes up ye Ball before she is lain quite still, unless asked by ye Bowler or Wicket Keeper, its out."[3] Similar wording remained in the revision made to the laws thirty years later.[4] The first batsman to be dismissed for handling the ball in first-class cricket was James Grundy, who suffered the fate while playing for the MCC against Kent in 1857.[5] Prior to 1899, a batsman could be given out for handling the ball even if they were doing so to remove a ball which had got stuck in their equipment or clothing.[6] At the time, if one of the fielders removed the ball from the batsman's clothing, they could claim a catch.[7] It was in such a situation that George Bennett, the first player to be given out handled the ball in English county cricket, was dismissed in 1872.[8] The wicket of William Scotton in early 1887 was described by Gerald Brodribb as "most unusual".[7] In a match between the smokers and the non-smokers involved in the 1886–87 Ashes series, Scotton faced the final delivery of the contest. Eager to claim the ball as a souvenir of the high-scoring match, he defended the delivery and picked the ball up. The fielders—who also wanted the souvenir—appealed, and Scotton was ruled out.[7]

An addition was made to the law in 1950 to allow umpires to give a batsman not out if the ball should strike the hand after "an involuntary action by the striker in the throwing up of a hand to protect his person".[6] For a time, the act of handing the ball back to the fielding side was listed as not out under Law 33, and instead was considered to be part of a different method of dismissal: obstructing the field, covered in Law 37.[9] The illegal nature of this offence was later returned to Law 33,[2] but reverted to Law 37 in 2013.[10] In 1948 the MCC issued a reminder to batsman, advising them not to handle the ball for any reason at any point during a cricket match, but it is relatively common for batsmen to pick the ball up and return it to the fielding side.[11] Charles Wright was the first player to be dismissed for returning the ball to a fielder in first-class cricket; albeit wrongly. Brodribb relates that in an 1893 match, W. G. Grace influenced Wright to return the ball to him, and upon doing so, appealed. The umpire dismissed Wright, despite a clause added to the law nine years previous stating that a batsman would not be ruled out if they were returning the ball at the request of the fielding side.[12]

In 2013, the law received a major change. Prior to this, there had been ambiguity in certain situations whether handling the ball or obstructing the field was applicable. This ambiguity was removed by setting a clear demarcation point between the two as the point when the striker has "finished playing the ball": before this point, handling the ball applies; thereafter, obstructing the field applies. The result was that only the striker could be dismissed handled ball, and only during the short period when the striker was playing (or attempting to play) the ball, either as a first or subsequent stroke. The act of handing the ball back to the fielding side, mentioned above, was therefore no longer regarded as the striker playing the ball, resulting in this event then being dealt with under obstructing the field.[10]

In March 2017 it was announced by the MCC that the law on handled the ball would be completely removed and subsumed into the law on obstructing the field. This means that the act of handling the ball will still result in the batsman's dismissal, but will now always be recorded as obstructing the field. The new law came into effect on 1 October 2017.[1]

In total, there were 63 occasions on which a batsman has been given out handled the ball in first-class cricket and 5 instances in List A cricket.[13][14] Brodribb suggests that it is likely that there should have been a significant number more dismissals than there have been for handling the ball: in addition to the cases where batsman have returned the ball to the fielding side without permission, there are records of cases in which the umpires have been reticent to uphold an appeal. On one such instance, the umpire David Constant rejected an appeal against Younis Ahmed, saying that he thought the appeal was not serious.[11]

Occasions in international cricket

The first occasion of a batsman being given out handled the ball in international cricket occurred during a Test match between South Africa and England in Cape Town in 1957.[16][17][18] In the second innings of the match, the South African Russell Endean padded away a delivery from Jim Laker. The ball looped off his pads into the air, and was falling towards his stumps until Endean instinctively knocked it away with his free hand.[19] He later suggested that he had "thought of heading it away, but that seemed too theatrical."[20] The second instance came 22 years later during a bad-tempered series between Australia and Pakistan that also involved another rare dismissal method: Mankading.[21] Andrew Hilditch was the victim in this match; he picked up the ball and returned it to the bowler after a wayward throw from a fielder. The bowler, Sarfraz Nawaz, appealed for the wicket and Hilditch was given out.[22] Another Pakistan player, Asif Iqbal, distanced himself from the incident, commenting that he felt "there was no need for us to stoop so low as to appeal against Hilditch".[15] Hilditch's dismissal marked the only time that a non-striking batsman has been given out for handling the ball.[15] The next case also occurred in another match between Australia and Pakistan. Mohsin Khan defended a delivery from Geoff Lawson, which then landed behind him. Mohsin pushed the ball away from the stumps with his hand, resulting in the wicket.[23]

Desmond Haynes was the fourth man to be dismissed for handling the ball in Test cricket, just over a year after Mohsin. Facing India in late 1983, Haynes had been struck on the bat and pad by the ball, which then headed towards the stumps. The West Indian batsman redirected the ball away from the stumps with his free hand.[24] Upon being given out, Haynes—who was ignorant of the law regarding handling the ball—argued with the umpire about the dismissal.[25] After asking the bowler, Kapil Dev, if he wanted to withdraw his appeal, the umpire sent Haynes back to the pavilion.[24] The first instance in One Day Internationals was in 1986, when the Indian batsman Mohinder Amarnath knocked away a turning delivery from Australia's Greg Matthews that was heading for the stumps.[26] In 1993, Graham Gooch became the only player to be dismissed for handling the ball after scoring a century. Playing defensively to try and draw the Test match against Australia, Gooch blocked a short ball from Merv Hughes.[27] The ball flicked off his bat and fell towards his stumps, prompting Gooch to instinctively punch the ball away: Australia won the match by 179 runs.[28]

The dismissal of Daryll Cullinan in 1999 was the second instance in ODIs: facing the West Indian spinner Keith Arthurton, Cullinan fended the ball off into the ground. It bounced high in the air, and Cullinan removed his right hand from his bat to catch it as it fell again.[29] Despite the fact that it was unlikely that the ball would land near the stumps, the West Indies captain, Brian Lara, appealed, and Cullinan was dismissed.[30] The next occurrence was two years later, in a Test match between Australia and India. In the first innings of the match, Steve Waugh was struck on the pads by a delivery from Harbhajan Singh. The umpire turned down the appeal, but as he did so, the ball bounced and spun towards the stumps.[31] Waugh was alerted by a shout from the non-striking batsman, and instinctively swept the ball away with his free hand.[32] The most recent instance came during the same year as Waugh's dismissal, in another Test match involving India. England's Michael Vaughan missed an attempted sweep against Sarandeep Singh, and the ball trickled along the ground after striking his pads. Vaughan brushed the ball away with his hand, despite the fact that it was not travelling towards the stumps.[33] Initially, he claimed that he was attempting the give the ball back to the fielder at short leg,[34] but he later admitted that he "should have just held up [his] hands and said 'I got it all wrong, I'm an idiot.'"[35]

Batsmen dismissed in international cricket

No. Batsman Runs Team Opposition Venue Match date Format Ref
1 Russell Endean 3 South Africa EnglandNewlands, Cape Town1 January 1957Test[36]
2 Andrew Hilditch 29 Australia PakistanWACA, Perth24 March 1979Test[37]
3 Mohsin Khan 58 Pakistan AustraliaNational Stadium, Karachi22 September 1982Test[38]
4 Desmond Haynes 55 West Indies IndiaWankhede Stadium, Bombay24 November 1983Test[39]
5 Mohinder Amarnath 15 India AustraliaMelbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne9 February 1986ODI[40]
6 Graham Gooch 133 England AustraliaOld Trafford, Manchester3 June 1993Test[41]
7 Daryll Cullinan 46 South Africa West IndiesKingsmead, Durban27 January 1999ODI[42]
8 Steve Waugh 47 Australia IndiaMA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai18 March 2001Test[43]
9 Michael Vaughan 64 England IndiaM Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore19 December 2001Test[44]
10 Chamu Chibhabha 18 Zimbabwe AfghanistanQueens Sports Club, Bulawayo20 October 2015ODI[45]

See also


  1. "MCC ANNOUNCES BAT SIZE LIMIT". MCC. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  2. "Law 33 (Handled the ball)". Marylebone Cricket Club. 2013. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  3. Hogg, James; Marryat, Florence (1864). London society. 6. William Clowes and Sons. p. 142. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  4. Hoyle, Edmond (1779). Hoyle's games improved. J.F. and C. Rivington. p. 228. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  5. Donnelly, Paul (2010). First, Last & Only: Cricket. Octopus Publishing Group. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  6. Oslear, Don. Wisden: The Laws of Cricket. London: Ebury Press. pp. 142–143.
  7. Brodribb (1995), p. 229.
  8. Scott, Les (31 August 2011). Bats, Balls & Bails: The Essential Cricket Book. London: Random House. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  9. Fraser, David (2005). Cricket and the Law: The man in white is always right. London: Routledge. p. 145. ISBN 0-7146-8285-3.
  10. "Explanation of changes to the Laws of Cricket for the 5th Edition of the 2000 Code" (PDF). Marylebone Cricket Club. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  11. Brodribb (1995), p. 231.
  12. Brodribb (1995), p. 230.
  13. "Records / First-class matches / Batting records / Unusual dismissals". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  14. "Records / List A matches / Batting records / Unusual dismissals". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  15. Luke, Will; Williamson, Martin (6 December 2005). "Ten controversial dismissals". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  16. "Records / Test matches / Batting records / Unusual dismissals". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  17. "Records / One-Day Internationals / Batting records / Unusual dismissals". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  18. "Records / Twenty20 Internationals / Batting records / Unusual dismissals". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  19. "Second Test Match: England v South Africa 1956–57". Wisden Cricketers' Alamanack. 1958. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  20. "Obituary, 2004: Russell Endean". Wisden Cricketers' Alamanack. 2004. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  21. Baum, Greg (23 February 2012). "Let's back up a clear line on 'run-outs'". Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney: Fairfax Media. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  22. "Player Profile: Andrew Hilditch". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  23. "First Test Match: Pakistan v Australia 1982–83". Wisden Cricketers' Alamanack. 1984. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  24. "Fourth Test Match: India v West Indies 1983–84". Wisden Cricketers' Alamanack. 1985. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  25. Memon, Ayaz (2 March 2011). "Indians were not aware of DRS regulations". Mid Day. Mid Day Infomedia Limited. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  26. "World Series Cup – Second Final Match: Australia v India 1985–86". Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. 1987. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  27. Warne, Shane (2009). Shane Warne's Century: My Top 100 Test Cricketers. Edinburgh: Random House. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-84596-451-1. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  28. Lynch, Steven (2009). Wisden on the Ashes: The Authoritative Story of Cricket's Greatest Rivalry. London: John Wisden & Co. p. 491. ISBN 978-1-4081-0983-0. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  29. "Cullinan makes history as South Africa triumph". The Guardian. London: Guardian Media Group. 28 January 1999. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  30. Prescott, Lawrence (28 January 1999). "Cricket: Cullinan out for handling the ball". The Independent. London: Independent Print Limited. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  31. Rutnagur, D.J. (19 March 2001). "Test Match: India trump Waugh's hand". The Daily Telegraph. London: Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  32. Knox, Malcolm (2009). The Greatest: The players, the moments, the matches: 1993–2008. Prahran, Victoria: Hardie Grant Publishing. p. 254. ISBN 978-1-74066-998-6.
  33. Miller, Andrew; Luke, Will (February 2006). "Eleven bizarre dismissals ... and one that got away". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  34. "Bizarre dismissal spoils England's solid start". The Daily Telegraph. London: Telegraph Media Group. 19 December 2001. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  35. Vaughan, Michael (2004). Year in the Sun. Coronet. ISBN 0-340-83095-6. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  36. "2nd Test: South Africa v England at Cape Town, Jan 1–5, 1957". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  37. "2nd Test: Australia v Pakistan at Perth, Mar 24–29, 1979". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  38. "1st Test: Pakistan v Australia at Karachi, Sep 22–27, 1982". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  39. "4th Test: India v West Indies at Mumbai, Nov 24–29, 1983". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  40. "2nd Final: Australia v India at Melbourne, Feb 9, 1986". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  41. "1st Test: England v Australia at Manchester, Jun 3–7, 1993". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  42. "3rd ODI: South Africa v West Indies at Durban, Jan 27, 1999". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  43. "3rd Test: India v Australia at Chennai, Mar 18–22, 2001". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  44. "3rd Test: India v England at Bangalore, Dec 19–23, 2001". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  45. "3rd ODI: Zimbabwe v Afghanistan at Bulawayo, Oct 20, 2015". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 October 2015.


  • Brodribb, Gerald (1995). Next Man In: A Survey of Cricket Laws and Customs. London: Souvenir Press. ISBN 0-285-63294-9.

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