Blinds Deaf and Clueless. Four things you will never see?



There are ten ways you can be dismissed. They are:

  1. Bowled
  2. Timed Out
  3. Caught
  4. Handled the Ball
  5. Hit the Ball Twice
  6. Hit the Wicket
  7. Leg Before Wicket
  8. Obstructing the Field
  9. Run Out
  10. Stumped

There are four of these dismissals that you will rarely see. It was tempting to say never see but I have seen one of them. Today I want to go through these four rare dismissals and show under what circumstances they are to be given by an umpire and what they are designed to prevent. These Laws may not be used much but they are required to allow cricket to be played properly.

These are four dismissals I going to cover:

  1. Timed Out
  2. Handled the Ball
  3. Hit the Ball Twice
  4. Obstructing the Field


Up until the 1980 revision of the Laws if a batsman took more than two minutes to arrive at the wicket the whole innings was deemed to be closed. This has actually happened twice in first-class matches in England; once in 1919 and once in 1963. It was only with the 1980 code of Laws that Timed Out as a dismissal method came into being. It was the tenth mode of dismissal to come into existence. Will it be the last?

Timed out is one of those Laws that should not be needed. An alien from Mars would think that everyone would want to get out to the pitch as quickly as possible. When batting, you are the centre of attention. However, all cricketers know there are some times when a batting side is trying to save a game and so want as little play as possible. The “draw” is an unusual thing in sport. Indeed many sports have golden goals or shoot outs to eliminate ties or draws. It is only cricket that regards a draw as an honourable result. I am the president of the Society for the Appreciation of Drawn Test Matches. I regard drawn Test Matches as being generally a more interesting cricket contest than a win.

Timed out is designed to stop what we could call “sharp practise”, something that is termed “unfair play” in the Laws of Cricket.

What does the Law actually require of the incoming batsman? The incoming batsman must be in position to take guard within three minutes of the dismissal (or retirement) or to be in such a position that the other batsman is ready to receive the next ball within three minutes. If he is not, he can be given out, Timed Out.

This is a poorly worded Law. The incoming batsman should be ready to receive the ball in two minutes. The three-minute interval might be fair enough at the major cricket grounds but in Park Cricket two minutes is all we need. Furthermore, the requirement to be ready to “take guard” is not what should be defined in this Law.

I have noticed a trend where the incoming batsman comes out and immediately takes block and then starts to put his gloves on, scratch himself, look around the field etc. They have read the Law and know as long as they have taken block in three minutes they are immune to being “Timed Out”. This is what sort of behaviour the Law is supposed to eliminate.

Handled the Ball is a dismissal I have only seen once and that was when Graham Gooch used his hand to stop a ball from Merv Hughes from hitting the stumps. This is a very ancient Law. It was mentioned in the earliest written Laws that we have. The famous handkerchief dating from 1744 states “if the Striker touches, or takes up the Ball before it has lain quite ftill, unlefs afk’d by the bowler, or Wicket-Keeper, it’s out”. We have no reliable records from any earlier period but I would be interested to know when Handling the Ball by a batsman became a mode of dismissal.

The Law today forbids the batsman from wilfully touching the ball with a hand that is not holding the bat unless he has permission from a member of the fielding team. The only exception allowed by the Law is that a player may touch the ball to avoid injury. My advice to all cricketers is do not touch the ball if you’re batting. Let the fieldsmen field the ball.

There was a rather amusing dismissal under this Law in a match played in 1887. On the last ball of the match the batsman, Scotton was his name, wanted to souvenir the ball. He played the ball down in front of himself and picked it up before the umpire called over or time. The fielding team appealed and he was given out. Apparently, someone from the other team wanted to souvenir the ball so they were not going to give the batsman permission to pick up the ball.

In 1899 a clause was added to allow a batsman to touch a ball that had lodged in his clothing.

The last two dismissals are Obstructing the Field and Hit the Ball twice. These Laws were introduced to reduce the deaths that were occurring in early cricket. A batsman would hit a ball in the air and then have another swipe at it as a fieldsman was trying to catch the ball. The batsman would miss the ball but would hit and injure the fieldsman. There are two recorded deaths from early cricket from this very occurrence. The negative outcome of the introduction of these two Laws was to eliminate of the collection of the statistic of contested catches.

So once again these two Laws are ancient Laws. Hit the Ball twice is described in 1744 as follows “if the ball is nipp’d up, and he ftrikes it again wilfully, before it comes to the wicket, it’s out”. The Law has changed slightly to allow a batsman to hit the ball a second time if he is attempting to stop the ball hitting the stumps. The batsman may hit the ball twice, solely, to defend his wicket.

In 1744 the Laws stated that “if he runs out of his Ground to hinder a catch, its out”. It was not until 1884 that the Law was widened to cover run out situations. There has been a further addition to this Law in the 1980 revision. A batsman is out Obstructing the Field if he wilfully obstructs or distracts the fielding team by word or action. If either batsman obstructs or distracts a fieldsman attempting to take a catch it is the striker who is out. There have been cases of batsman yelling out things like “don’t worry, he will drop it again” as a fieldsman is perched under a high catch. This would fall under the Obstruction Law.


One of my favourite stories, probably apocryphal, is when a batsman, realising he was going to be run out threw his bat at the stumps to knock the bails off so delaying the breaking of the wicket. What a novel idea.

So these four dismissals are designed to censure unfair play and protect players from injury but they are as rare as hen’s teeth. I have given one of them in my first year of umpiring and I will finish with this story of my Obstruction dismissal, of a captain no less during my most magnificent season when I gave nine captains out LBW and one of the buggers out  Obstructing the Field.


The match started with the respective captains opening the batting and bowling and, it was obvious from the start, they disliked each other. The batting captain was batting well out of his crease and on receiving one delivery, he over balanced, the ball hit the pad and bounced well down the pitch towards the bowler. The bowler pounced on the ball and seeing the batsman well short of his ground, had a shy at the stumps.

The batsman hit the ball out through the covers. He was making a statement: piss off bowler. Now the batsman could have merely stayed in the way or blocked the ball saying he was avoiding injury, but hitting the ball out towards the boundary. He was out Obstructing the Field.


Hopefully, I will never see another one and I would handle the situation differently now. I would merely ask the bowling captain if he wanted the appeal for Obstruction to stand. I knew the bowling captain. He was a teacher at one of my son’s school. Dave Bennett is his name and I know he would have withdrawn the appeal if I had asked him if he wanted the appeal to stand. Dave is a gentleman and by withdrawing the appeal the other captain would have realised this fact. They would have shaken hands and probably became great mates.

Umpiring matters matter for many reasons. One of the great things experienced umpires can do is make the game better for out cricketers. I was too inexperienced at the time to know what to do.

It would not happen now.



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