In the sport of cricket, a leg bye is a run scored by the batting team if the batsman has not hit the ball with their bat, but the ball has hit the batsman's body or protective gear. It is covered by Law 23 of the Laws of Cricket.
Scoring leg byes
If the ball deflects off the batsman's body they can attempt to score runs in a similar manner as if they had hit the ball. The number of runs scored are scored as leg byes – they are added to the team's total, but not to the number of runs scored by the batsman nor to the runs conceded by the bowler. If the ball deflects off the batsman's body and travels all the way to the boundary, the batting team immediately scores four leg byes, similar to if the ball had been hit to the boundary for a four.
The only part of the batsman's body to which the rule does not apply is the hand or hands (that is, the batsman's gloves) holding the bat, which are deemed for the sake of the rules to be a part of the bat. If the ball strikes a hand which for whatever reason is not holding the bat, then leg byes may be scored. However, if the batsman deliberately allows the ball to hit a hand which is not holding the bat no leg byes can be scored, and they may on appeal be given out obstructing the field.
Leg byes may only be scored if the ball hits the batsman while the batsman was either:
- attempting to hit the ball with his bat, or
- attempting to evade being hit by the ball.
If the batsman was attempting neither of these, and the ball hits his body, it is a dead ball and runs may not be scored. If the batsmen attempt to score runs in this instance, the fielding team may attempt to run either of them out. If the batting pair complete such a "run" when the ball is dead, the umpire signals dead ball, the run is not scored, and the batsmen must return to their wickets as before the run attempt.
If it appears that the ball would have hit the stumps were it not for the batsman's legs, the batsman may be dismissed leg before wicket.
Leg byes are the most common form of extras scored in Test cricket. The average number of leg byes scored in a Test match is about 20; in a 50 over game it is about 10. The most leg byes in a single test innings is 35, conceded by England against South Africa in the Proteas' tour of England, on 1 August 2008.
The conventional notation for a single leg bye is a triangle with a point at the base and horizontal edge at the top (an inverted bye symbol). If more than one leg bye is taken the number scored is written within the triangle - in practice it is easier to write the number down and then draw the triangle around it.
Prior to his retirement from Test cricket Australian captain Steve Waugh called for leg byes to be removed from the sport, commenting: "I don't think you should get runs when you miss the ball."
- "Law 23 – Bye and leg bye". MCC. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
- "Aggregate extras in international cricket". ESPN Cricinfo.
- England v South Africa, 2008 Basil D'Oliveira Trophy – 3rd Test, Scorecard, Cricinfo, Retrieved on 5 August 2009
- Goodbye to leg-byes?, BBC Sports, Retrieved on 5 August 2009
- Umpire's signal, BBC Sport, Retrieved on 5 August 2009