HomeSportsCricketUnderstanding Wide Balls in Cricket: Exploring the Dimensions and It’s Impact
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Understanding Wide Balls in Cricket: Exploring the Dimensions and It’s Impact

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The common occurrence in cricket involves the umpire extending both arms sideways to indicate a ‘wide ball.’ In the language of cricket, a wide ball is categorized as an extra. This means, it is not a legitimate delivery and does not contribute to the official count of balls bowled.

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In the game of cricket, each run holds significance, as does every dot ball. The outcome of a match can hinge on a solitary run, determining the line between victory and defeat, success and failure. Bowlers dedicate extensive practice to perfecting their precision in terms of both line and length. Conversely, contemporary batsmen are in a constant state of motion, ceaselessly endeavoring to carve out room for inventive shots, aiming to outsmart the fielding opposition.

Several permutations and combinations come into play before the umpire declares a wide ball, often causing confusion among viewers. This article delves into the various factors and rules that influence the umpire’s decision when judging a wide.

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The distance of the Wide Ball line marking

Wide Ball | KreedOn
Image Source: Cricket Mastery

The Wide Ball line marking in Cricket is positioned at a distance of 0.89 meters or 35 inches on both sides of the middle stump. In Test matches, this distance is also considered as the wide line on the leg side. However, in ODI cricket and T20 matches, the wide line on the leg side is shorter. This is to discourage “negative” bowling by bowlers. The wide line rule is enforced more strictly in ODI and T20 matches compared to Test Matches.

When the ball is too much away from the batsman

Wide Ball | KreedOn
Image Source: Cricket On Demand

The bowler must avoid delivering a ball that is beyond the batsman’s reach to ensure a fair competition. 

Using a right-handed batsman as an illustration, it is essential for the ball to reach the batsman within the leg stump and the straight white line positioned on the right-hand side of the wicket behind him. If the ball lands beyond this boundary on the right-hand side of the batsman, it will be deemed a wide. Similarly, in the case of a left-handed batsman, the ball must target the leg stump and the straight line on the left-hand side of the wicket. If it falls outside this boundary on the left-hand side of the batsman, it will be declared a wide.

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Another crucial point to highlight is that if the ball travels to the batsman behind him, specifically down the left side of the leg stump without making contact with the batsman’s body, it will also be deemed a wide ball.


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An exception to the above rule of wide ball

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Image Source: The Cricket Digest

An exemption exists in relation to the previously mentioned rule. Should the batsman shift towards the offside prior to the bowler delivering the ball, the conventional straight white line used to establish the wide boundary essentially becomes nullified. This implies that as the batsman moves towards the offside, the wide boundary is imaginarily extended in that direction. The determination of what constitutes excessively wide then rests with the umpire, who decides the threshold beyond which a delivery is considered wide.

In Test Cricket, bowlers experience a degree of leniency regarding the wide ball rule. If the ball lands slightly outside the boundary of the white line or narrowly veers down the leg side without making contact with the batsman, the umpire refrains from declaring it a wide. However, if the deviation is too pronounced on either side of the wicket, the umpire deems it a wide. The determination of what constitutes “too far” rests with the umpire.

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Above the head high

Wide ball bouncer | KreedOn
Image Source: The Cricketer

The delivery to the batsman should ideally target the length of his body for fair play. A perfect delivery occurs when the ball bounces once on the pitch and reaches the batsman below shoulder level. If it surpasses shoulder height but stays below the head, it is termed a bouncer. However, if the ball bounces and reaches the batsman above the head, it is classified as a wide ball and also a bouncer. Therefore, to be considered a legitimate delivery and not a wide, the ball must not exceed the batsman’s head height.

Here’s an intriguing observation: in Test Cricket and ODI cricket, bowlers are permitted to deliver a maximum of two bouncers. However, in T20 cricket, they are limited to just one. If a bowler exceeds the specified number of bouncers, it will result in a no ball rather than a wide. 

Based on the cricket rule mentioned earlier, if a bowler delivers two bouncers above the head in a single over, they will be considered Wides and bouncers in ODI cricket. Subsequent above-head high deliveries in the same over will not be termed as Wides and bouncers but will be immediately categorized as ‘no balls.’ In T20I cricket, the initial above-head high bouncer will be deemed a wide and one bounce, while the second will be considered a no ball.

Runs from Wide Ball (Including penalty runs)

  • As per the rules of cricket, a bowling team is penalized 1 run when bowling a wide ball. This 1 run is awarded to the batting team.
  • Furthermore, if a boundary is scored on a wide ball, a total of 5 runs (4 runs from a boundary and 1 run penalty) are awarded to the batting team.
  • Additionally, when a wide ball is called, the ball does not become dead. This means, the two batsmen can decide to score additional runs by running between the wickets.
  • All the runs scored on a wide ball are awarded to the batting team and not to an individual player.

Can a Batter be declared out on Wide Ball?

A batsman can be dismissed on a wide ball in four specific ways:

  • Being stumped
  • Run out
  • Obstructing the field
  • Hit wicket

If a batsman is outside the popping crease and the wicketkeeper dislodges the wickets, the batsman can be stumped out. Similarly, if either of the batsmen fails to reach their respective crease while attempting a run on a wide ball and the fielding team disturbs the stumps, the batsman can be run out.

In such cases, when a batsman is given out on a wide ball, the batting team still receives the penalty runs, and the delivery is considered legal.


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Frequently Asked Question (FAQS)

How is a wide ball signaled by the umpire?

The umpire stretches both arms horizontally, signaling a wide ball. Additionally, a run is awarded to the batting team.

Which team has bowled most Wides in an ODI innings?

Pakistan has bowled the highest number of Wides (37) in an ODI innings.

How many wides are allowed in an over?

While there’s no exact cap on wides per over, if the bowler persistently delivers excessively wide balls, the umpire may step in with a warning or penalties for the bowler.

Can a wide ball be called if the batsman moves while the ball is being bowled?

Yes, if the ball is out of the batsman’s reach, regardless of their movement, it can still be called a wide by the umpire.

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