Owzat? The Eleven Ways To Get Out, Part One

The Cavaliers are not renowned for our knowledge of the Laws of Cricket, nor for their close attention to tactics and skills. This is one of a series of posts intended to explain the game in the hope that we might one day know what a wide looks like, how not to drop a catch and how to say ‘not out’ when the ball is hitting the skip on the arse a foot outside leg stump.

In this post, we will look at methods of dismissal, starting with the five most common. A version of this article previously appeared on h2g2, the online guide to Life, the Universe and Everything.

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Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out. When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in…

Many people are astonished at the number of ways it is possible to be cricket. Ask anyone how many ways there are, and they’ll go through a list:

Well, there’s bowled, caught, caught behind, LBW, run out… er… stumped… that’s six. Yes, six ways.

Actually, there are 11, and the list above includes only five of them. ‘Eleven?’, people who know the game well will cry, ‘there are surely ten?’ Yes, it’s a little ambiguous, but there are 11 ways of being out in cricket.

The Basics

Before we tell you how to get yourself out, we’ll need to know some basics.


A batsman cannot be given out unless a member of the fielding side ‘appeals’ to the umpire and, as Law 27.4 says, a simple shout of ‘how’s that?’ will do perfectly. Umpires must respond to each appeal, either by raising a finger above the head to show the batsman’s innings is over or by a verbal ‘not out’. The fielding captain may withdraw the appeal if he is feeling generous, and umpires have the right to change their decision ‘providing that such an alteration is made promptly’. A batsman can also ‘walk’ without waiting for the umpire to give him out, and this behaviour is generally encouraged – a man who faintly nicks the ball to the wicketkeeper and walks off, knowing he is guilty, is generally better respected than one who hangs around waiting for the dreaded finger.

Umpires may consult with each other, perhaps if one hasn’t seen an important part of the action, but must ask specific questions of each other. For example, ‘was that out?’ is not an acceptable question to ask, whereas ‘did that hit the glove or the forearm on its way through?’ would be. Referrals of decisions to a ‘third umpire’ with access to television footage are not covered in the Laws.

Putting Down The Wicket

Some of the laws refer to this, so it is worth a mention. Although not an actual method of dismissal, it is an important concept. For example, if the bowler bowls and the ball hits the wicket, however hard, and the bails do not fall off, the wicket hasn’t been broken, so the batsman isn’t out.

An action also known as ‘breaking the wicket’, the wicket can be put down by:

  • The ball.
  • The striker’s bat, person or clothing – whether still held by or attached to the batsman or not.
  • The hand or arm of a fielder, providing the ball is held in the hand of that arm.
  • Pulling a stump from the ground.

If bails are not being used for whatever reason, usually due to high winds, simply making contact with the stumps in one of the ways above will suffice.

The Popping Crease

This is a line drawn across the pitch four feet (or 1.22m) from the back edge of the stumps. The ‘crease’ is drawn on the ground to about the width of the pitch, but it is actually considered to extend an infinite distance either side. The area between the crease and stumps is known as the batsman’s ‘ground’; if part of him or his bat is touching the floor in this area he is safe from being run out or stumped – if he is on the line or beyond it, he is ‘out of his ground’ and vulnerable.

The slightly odd name comes from a time when there was a hole in the ground instead of a line; the batsman would try to get his bat in the hole before the fielders could ‘pop’ the ball in it. Serious injuries were common, until the lawmakers decided a crease might be safer.

We’ll take a look at the main methods of dismissal now in the order in which they occur in the Laws. Then, finally, we’ll tell you a secret – the Eleventh Way.

Method One: Bowled

The bowler comes up and bowls, and you miss the ball completely as it whizzes past you and hits middle stump, sending it spinning through the air.

The striker is out Bowled if his wicket is put down by a ball delivered by the bowler, not being a No ball, even if it first touches his bat or person.
– Law 30.1

This is a straightforward way of getting someone out. The bowler bowls the ball fairly and it hits the stumps in a very satisfying way. It doesn’t matter if it hits the pads or bat on the way through, the batsman is still out bowled. Bowled takes precedence over any other dismissal (for example, if the batsman hit the ball onto the stumps and was then caught) and the bowler gets credited for a fine delivery.

Method Two: Caught

The bowler is giving you a torrid time, so you decide to go on the attack. You charge at the next ball and take a wild swing in an effort to lump it back over his head. The bowler grins at you as the ball bobbles gently into his hands.

The striker is out Caught if a ball delivered by the bowler, not being a no-ball, touches his bat… and is subsequently held by a fielder as a fair catch before it touches the ground.
– Law 32.

This is simple enough; the batsman knocks the ball up in the air, and a fielder catches it. The ball can be caught in a fielder’s clothing or the wicket-keeper’s pads, but if it is lodged in or deflects off a protective helmet worn by a fielder, this is not considered fair and the batsman is not out. If it hits the umpire, a fielder or the other batsman before being caught, this is considered fair.

If the fielder steps over the boundary while catching the ball, it is considered that the ball has crossed the boundary, and the batsman will score six runs – however if he, realising he might overstep the boundary, knocks the ball up in the air, then runs back onto the field of play and catches it, this is perfectly valid! He must simply not be in contact with the ball while he is over the boundary.

No runs can be scored if a batsman is out caught. If the batsmen run while the ball is in the air, these runs are disallowed.

Note that caught, caught and bowled (when the ball is caught by the bowler) and caught behind (where the wicket-keeper takes the catch) are all the same dismissal. Regardless of what a scorer may write down, it’s all out caught under the laws.

Method Three: Run Out

You run for the line at the other end, but before you can reach its safety the wicket-keeper gathers the ball and removes the bails.

Either batsman is out Run out… if at any time while the ball is in play and;

(i) he is out of his ground, and;

(ii) his wicket is fairly put down by the opposing side…
– Law 38.

This is pretty simple; a batsman runs and, before he makes his ground the wicket is put down, he is out.

There are, however, exceptions:

  • If the manner of his dismissal fits the criteria of being out Stumped, below, he will not be run out but ‘out Stumped’.
  • If he has made his ground and leaves it to avoid injury, for example to avoid the thrown ball, he is not out.
  • The ball must be touched by a fielder after the bowler bowls it. If the batsman hits the ball onto the stumps at the other end, for example, his partner cannot be given run out unless it has been touched by one of the fielding side on the way.
  • The ball cannot hit a fielder’s helmet and hit the stumps to run a batsman out. However, the ball in this instance remains ‘in play’.

The batsman that is out, if there is any doubt, is the one nearest to the wicket that has been broken.

Method Four: Stumped

You step out of your crease for a big slog shot, miss it and the wicket-keeper quickly whips the bails off.

Law 39 covers the criteria for a striker being out Stumped:

  • He must be out of his ground.
  • The ball bowled must not be a no ball.
  • He must not be attempting a run.
  • The wicket-keeper must put the wicket down without a fielder touching the ball.

A striker cannot be out stumped off a no-ball, although it is perfectly legitimate for a quick thinking wicket-keeper to throw the ball to a fielder to effect a run-out! The batsman can, however, be stumped off a wide ball, and some spinners deliberately bowl wide of leg-stump to try to get the batsman out in this way, particularly if the batsman is advancing towards him.

Method Five: Leg Before Wicket, or ‘LBW’

The ball hits you on the leg. Everyone shouts.

LBW sounds like quite a simple rule, and many people believe it to be nothing more than ‘it hits the batsman on the pads in front of the wicket’. In fact, it is perfectly accepted – nay, encouraged – for you to use your pads to defend your stumps, and you can only be out LBW in very specific circumstances. We’ll discuss LBW in greater length in a later article, but for now here are the three criteria:

  • The ball must not pitch outside leg stump.
  • The ball must hit the batsman in line with the stumps or, if he is not playing a shot, in line or outside the off stump.
  • The ball must be going on to hit the stumps.

These are the most common methods of dismissal. We’ll look at the six less-common ways of getting out in a later article.