Run (cricket)

In cricket, a run is the unit of scoring. The team with the most runs wins in many versions of the game, and always draws at worst (see result), except for some results decided by the DLS method. One run (known as a "single") is scored when a batsman (known as the "striker") has hit the ball with the bat, or with a gloved hand holding the bat, and directed it away from the fielders so that both the striker and the non-striker are able to run the length of the pitch (22 yards), crossing each other and arriving safely at the other end of the pitch, before the fielders can retrieve the ball and hit the wicket.

Depending on how long it takes the fielding team to recover the ball, the batsmen may run more than once. Each completed run increments the scores of both the team and the striker. A batsman may also score 4 or 6 runs by striking the ball to the boundary. The team's total score in the innings is the aggregate of all its batsmen's individual scores plus any extras. To complete a run, both batsmen must make their ground, with some part of their person or bat touching the ground behind the popping crease at the other end of the pitch. Attempting a run carries a risk factor because either batsman can be run out, (one method of dismissal), if the fielding side can break the wicket with the ball before the batsman has completed the run.


Scoring runs is the subject of Law 18 in the Laws of Cricket.[1] Boundaries are covered in Law 19.[2] How the Batsman makes his ground is Law 30.[3]

Runs scored by running

Batsmen frequently run singles and also "twos" and "threes". If the batsmen run a single or a three, they have "changed ends", so the striking batsman becomes the non-striker for the next delivery, and vice-versa. If the single or three is scored off the last delivery of the over, the striker, having changed ends, retains the strike for the first delivery of the next over. There are rare instances of "fours" being all run when the ball does not reach the boundary. A "five" is possible, but usually arises from a mistake by the fielders, such as an overthrow. The batsman is never compelled to run and can deliberately play without attempting to score; baseball's force out rule has no equivalent in cricket.

This is known as running between wickets.

The batsmen stop running when they judge that the ball is sufficiently controlled by the fielding team to prevent another run, for example when it is returned to the bowler or the wicketkeeper.

If, when turning for an additional run, one of the batsmen fails to ground some part of their body or bat behind the popping crease, the umpire declares a "short run" and the run does not count but, even if the bat is dropped, runs do count as long as each batsman makes his ground with his bat or person somehow.


The act of running is unnecessary if the batsman hits the ball to the marked boundary of the field. If the ball reaches the boundary having made contact with the ground, four runs are added to the scores of both the batsman and the team. If the batsman succeeds in hitting the ball onto or over the boundary on the full (i.e. the ball does not contact the ground until it has hit or is beyond the boundary), six runs are added. If the batsmen are running when the ball reaches the boundary, they can stop, and their team will be awarded either the number of runs for the boundary (4 or 6), or runs the batsmen completed together (including a run in progress if they already crossed when the boundary is scored), whichever is greater.


In addition to runs scored by the batsmen, the team total is incremented by extras, (also known as "sundries" in Australia,) which arise because the bowler has delivered a wide or no-ball, or the fielders have caused a no-ball, (each of which incurs a one-run penalty,) or have failed to control a ball which did not make contact with the bat (byes and leg byes,) thus allowing the batsmen to run. Byes, leg-byes and wides that elude the fielders and cross the boundary score four (never six) in addition to the one-run penalty scored for a no-ball or wide if applicable. Extras are not added to a batsman's individual score.

Five penalty runs are awarded by the umpires, either to the batting team or to the fielding team as applicable, for infringement of some of the Laws, usually relating to unfair play or player conduct. For example five runs are awarded to the batting team if the ball hits a helmet on the ground belonging to the fielding team; five runs are awarded to the fielding team if the batting team causes avoidable damage to the wicket after due warning by the umpire.

If the umpire considers a short run to have been a deliberate act he will disallow all runs attempted, and impose a five-run penalty on the batting team.[1]


In the written records of cricket, "run" is as old as "cricket" itself. In the earliest known reference to the sport, dated Monday, 17 January 1597 (Julian date), Surrey coroner John Derrick made a legal deposition concerning a plot of land in Guildford that when (c.1550):[4]

"a scholler of the Ffree Schoole of Guildeford, hee and diverse of his fellowes did runne and play there at creckett and other plaies".

It may well be that, in this context, "runne" meant running in general. For a long time, until well into the 18th century, the scorers sat on the field and increments to the score were known as "notches" because they would notch the scores on a stick, with a deeper knick at 20. The same method was used by shepherds when counting sheep. In the earliest known Laws of cricket, dated 1744, one of the rules states:[5]

"If in running a Notch, the Wicket is struck down by a Throw, before his Foot, Hand, or Bat is over the Popping-Crease, or a Stump hit by the Ball, though the Bail was down, it's out".

In the 1774 version, the equivalent rule states:[6]

"Or if in running a notch, the wicket is struck down by a throw, or with the ball in hand, before his foot, hand, or bat is grounded over the popping-crease; but if the bail is off, a stump must be struck out of the ground by the ball".

These are the earliest known references to running as the means of scoring. The change of terminology from "notch" to "run" was gradual and both terms were in use in 1800. The result of a match played in Sussex on 3 August 1800 was a win "by 25 notches"[7] while another match in Sussex on 9 August 1800 was won "by an innings and 38 runs".[8]


For team and individual run-scoring records, see List of Test cricket records, List of One Day International cricket records, List of Twenty20 International records, and List of first-class cricket records.


  1. "Law 18 – Scoring runs". MCC. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  2. "Law 19 – Boundaries". MCC. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  3. "Law 30 Batsman Out of His/her Ground – Scoring runs". MCC. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  4. Underdown, p. 3.
  5. Ashley-Cooper, p. 22.
  6. Haygarth, pp. 16–17.
  7. McCann, p. 197.
  8. McCann, p. 198.


  • Ashley-Cooper, F. S. (1900). At the Sign of the Wicket: Cricket 1742–1751. Cricket magazine.
  • Haygarth, Arthur (1862). Scores & Biographies, Volume 1 (1744–1826). Lillywhite. ISBN 1-900592-23-1.
  • McCann, Tim (2004). Sussex Cricket in the Eighteenth Century. Sussex Record Society.
  • Underdown, David (2000). Start of Play. Allen Lane.
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