HomeSportsCricketDecoding Cricket Umpire Signals: A Comprehensive Guide | Know What They Actually...
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Decoding Cricket Umpire Signals: A Comprehensive Guide | Know What They Actually Mean

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Cricket is considered as one of the most complicated sports. This is not because of how it is played, but because of the rules and laws it comprises. Take a dismissal through Catch for example. It involves contact between the bat and the ball before a fielder catches it. The contact may be the slightest, but the value is the same – an entire wicket. Thus, the responsibility of making sure that these laws are followed is under the aegis of the Umpire. They are the ones who make sure that cricket always remains a gentlemen’s game. Umpires receive a lot of respect from the cricketers, unlike football where referees are not treated ethically. Here is a list of cricket umpire signals used during matches.

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Cricket umpire signals: Out

Out KreedOn
Cricket umpire signals (Credits GFYCAT)

The out signal is used by the umpire whenever a batsman is dismissed in one of the 10 possible ways. The umpire signals out by lifting the index finger of one of the hands in the air. However, in cases of LBW, caught behind and obstructing the field, the umpire can only signal out if the bowling team appeals. The umpire can declare an appeal as not-out by shaking his head or saying the words ‘not-out’ verbally.

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Cricket umpire signals: No-ball

Umpire signals No Ball kreedon
Cricket Umpire Signals (credits: getty images)

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According to the cricket rules, the bowler is bound to land his front foot behind the popping crease while bowling. The delivery in which he/she lands the leg ahead of the crease is illegitimate and declared as a ’no ball’. The umpire signals a no-ball by holding one arm horizontally at almost 90°. However, ball a no-ball is also signaled if the bowler delivers the ball directly above the waist of the batsman without bouncing it on the pitch. No ball is an extra and doesn’t count as one of the six deliveries of an over.

Cricket umpire signals: Free-Hit

Free hit signal kreedon: Richard Kettleborough
Cricket Umpire Signals: Richard Kettleborough rotates his arm over his head to signal a free-hit (credits: Reuters)

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In limited formats of cricket (i.e. ODIs and T20s), after bowling a no-ball, the batsman is provided with a free hit. Free-hit is the ball bowled just after a no-ball and gives all the license to the batsman to hit the ball without any fear. This is because, in a free hit, the batsman’s methods of dismissals reduce from eight to four, which are: run out, obstructing the field, handling the ball, and hitting the ball twice. As the later 3 dismissals are extremely rare, batsmen can only be dismissed by a run-out. The umpire signals a free hit by circling his arm over his/her head.

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Cricket umpire signals: Wide ball

Umpire signals wide ball kreedon
Cricket Umpire Signals (credits: Getty Images)

A wide ball is an illegal delivery bowled in cricket whenever the ball is bowled outside the reach of the batsman. This reach is defined by a line marked on the pitch. A ball can be wide even if the ball bounces way over the batsman’s head. A wide Ball is not counted and adds an extra run to the batting team’s total. The umpire signals wide by spreading out both his hands horizontally.

Cricket umpire signals: Four runs

Umpire signalling 4 kreedon
Cricket Umpire Signals: Umpire waves his hand across the chest to signal four (credits: @icc)

A batsman earns 4 runs whenever he/she hits the ball across the boundary (by bouncing at least once before reaching the fence). The batsman signals a four by waving his arm back and forth in front of his chest/waist.

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Cricket umpire signals: Six Runs

Umpire signalling a six - KreedOn
Cricket Umpire Signals: Six (credits: icc)

A batsman gets six runs whenever he/she hits the ball out of the boundary, without the ball landing on the ground before. The umpire signals six by raising both his arms vertically above his head.

Cricket umpire signals: Byes

Indian umpire signals byes kreedon
Cricket Umpire Signals: Byes (credits: Getty Images)

The batting team gets byes if they pick runs without the bat hitting the ball or any body part of the batsman. The umpire signals byes by raising one of the palms vertically above his head.

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Leg Byes

Leg Byes Cricket Umpire Signals Kreedon
Cricket Umpire Signals: Leg Byes (Credits Twitter)


First bouncer signal kreedon
Cricket Umpire Signals: Umpire Joel Wilson signals one bouncer for the over at Cape Town, South Africa (credits: Getty Images)

In Test and ODI cricket, a bowler can bowl 2 bouncers in an over. Whereas in T20 cricket, the bowler is allowed to bowl only one. If the number of bouncers in an over exceeds the necessary limit, the batting team is rewarded with a no-ball. Hence, the umpire has to make the players on the field about the first and the second bouncer bowled. It is signaled by putting the arm on the shoulder and raising one or two fingers, according to the bouncer number.

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Television / 3rd Umpire

3rd Umpires KreedOn
Credits GFYCAT

Dead Ball

dead ball signal
Cricket Umpire Signals: Dead ball (credits: YouTube)

A dead ball is declared whenever the ball is to be bowled but dues to some interruption, the bowler doesn’t bowl. The cricket umpire signals that a delivery has been Dead by crossing and uncrossing his wrists just below his waist. The same signal is also used whenever a decision is termed as not out while taking a DRS review.

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Short Run

one run short signal in cricket | kreedon
Cricket Umpire Signals: Umpire taps his right shoulder to signal one short run (credits: YouTube)

While running between the wickets, the batsman has to make sure that his/her bat reaches ahead of the crease to complete one run. If the batsman fails to do so and the umpire notices it, the umpire has the authority to declare a ‘short-run’ by canceling out that run from the scoreboard. The Cricket Umpire signals a ‘Short run’ by tapping his near shoulder with the fingers.

Penalty Runs

Penalty runs signal by umpires | Kreedon
Cricket Umpire Signals: The batting side is awarded 5 penalty runs if the ball hits the wicket-keeper’s helmet (credits: YouTube)

Penalty runs are extra runs given to the batting or the fielding team whenever a law of cricket is breached by the opposition. This breach includes damaging the pitch even after a warning, obstructing the batsman, or wasting time deliberately. The batting team gets Penalty runs whenever the ball touches wicket keeper’s helmet as it hinders the runs of the batting team. Placing one arm on the opposite shoulder indicates penalty runs to the fielding team.

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Revoke Decision

decision revoked by umpire | KreedOn
Cricket Umpire Signals: Umpire changing his decision after confirmation from the TV umpire (credits: @icc)

Whenever a DRS (review) is taken by any of the teams, and the decision stands not out, the umpire is subjected to signaling the TV umpire’s decision communicated to him by signaling it on the ground as well. If the on-field umpire’s decision doesn’t match the actual decision and it has to be changed, the umpire has to signal to revoke the decision. It is signaled by the umpire by crossing both hands over his shoulders.


In limited-format cricket, the fielding team has to follow certain norms on the field regarding field placements. Powerplay was introduced in 2005 with the motive of giving a fair opportunity to the batsman to score runs in the first 10 overs. This is signaled by the umpire by rotating his arm twice in a circular motion over his head. As of today, powerplay applies:

  • During the first 10 overs of an innings, when a maximum of 2 fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard circle.
  • Between overs 11 and 40, when a maximum of 4 fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard circle.
  • In the final 10 overs (41–50), when a maximum of 5 fielders will be allowed to field outside the 30-yard circle.

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Soft Signal

soft signal by umpires in cricket kreedon  Cricket Umpire Signals:
Cricket Umpire Signals: Umpire discussing and gives a soft signal of out for the sake of safety (credits: Channel 9)

IN 2016, ICC declared that the umpires will have to give a soft signal before sending forward any decision to the TV umpire. This was done to ensure fairness to the game by having the on-field umpire’s call, in case the evidence for the third umpire is not enough. After signaling for the third umpire, the umpire has to declare out or not out somewhere between his chest and waist.

New Ball

Cricket Umpire Signals:
Cricket Umpire Signals: Umpire signalling the new ball for the scorers (credits: cricket Australia)

Whenever a new ball is taken by the fielding side, the umpire picks the ball and lift it to signal it to scorers as well as the batting team.

Last Hour

last hour signal kreedon Cricket Umpire Signals:
Cricket Umpire Signals: Umpire signalling last hour of the day’s play in a test match (credits: YouTube)

Test Cricket says that the last hour of a day’s play should have minimum 15 overs from the fielding side. Hence, the umpire signals towards his wrist watch to the fielding team, making them aware of the last hour.

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What are cricket umpire signals?

Cricket umpire signals are a set of hand gestures used by the umpires to communicate decisions and information during a cricket match. These signals help players, coaches, and spectators to understand the decisions made by the umpires.

How many cricket umpire signals are there?

There are various cricket umpire signals used during a match, including signals for a boundary, a six, a wicket, a no-ball, a leg-bye, and many more.

How can I learn all about cricket umpire signals?

You can learn about cricket umpire signals by reading about them online, watching cricket matches and paying attention to the umpire’s signals, or even taking a cricket umpiring course. Practice can help you to remember and understand the different signals.

Why do cricket umpires use signals?

Cricket umpires use signals to indicate various decisions and actions during the game, such as signaling a boundary, a wicket, or a no-ball. These signals help to maintain transparency and ensure fair play during the match.

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Shashwat Chaturvedi
Shashwat Chaturvedi
I am a media student, looking forward to specialize in either journalism or advertising. I'm a very big fan of the beautiful game of cricket and started following it because of MS Dhoni 14 years ago, when I was just 5.



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