Free Hit in Cricket: How Does it Work?

Read this post to find out how free hit in cricket sports work.

A free hit in cricket stands as a unique and advantageous delivery which is a massive treat for the batting side and an ultimate threat for the bowling team.

The bowling side incurs a penalty for delivering a no-ball, resulting in an additional run awarded to the batting team.

The batsman gets a license to play aggressively without fearing the different dismissal methods.

Especially, batsmen have benefitted from this rule in white-ball cricket in the past decade. The concept of free hit introduces an exciting dimension in limited-overs cricket to increase the intensity and pace of the game.

A bowler’s illegal delivery known as a “no-ball” in cricket, results in granting a free hit to the batsman

It is mandatory to understand what a “no-ball” means in cricket before delving into the informational facts about how a free hit in cricket works.

What is a no-ball in cricket?

A no-ball is an illegal or unfair delivery by a bowler in cricket. A bowler delivering NO-BALL means that the ball is NOT COUNTED!  Rather, the batting team receives an extra run with an additional ball to play.

The umpire stretches one arm horizontally to indicate an unfair delivery when a no-ball is bowled.

Additionally, the batsman on the strike isn’t at risk of getting out, except for a run-out or stump-out.

Introducing the concept of Cricket Free Hit: Different Types of No-Ball that Results a Free Hit in Cricket

ICC ( International Cricket Council ) introduced the concept of free hit in the T20 World Cup 2007.

Initially, the rule penalized only for overstepping with the front foot or crossing the line or crease with the back foot

In 2015, the introduction of different concepts extended the rule. This resulted in the consideration of various types of deliveries as no-ball such as:

  • Overstepping: A bowler crosses the crease before delivering the ball to a batsman.
  • Full Toss: A delivery bowled directly above the batsman’s waist height is considered a no-ball.
  • Extra bounce over the head: If the ball bounces over the head of the batsman while standing straight, a no-ball is declared.
  • Additional fielder outside the 30-yard circle: It is mandatory to follow fielding restrictions in limited-overs cricket during the powerplay. Teams can have only 2 fielders outside the 30-yard circle. If an additional fielder is placed before the powerplay when a bowl is bowled, it is a no-ball.
  • A ball touching a fielder before a batsman: A bowler should deliver a bowl directly to a batsman or a wicketkeeper. If a ball reaches a fielder before the batsman with a raised height, it is a no-ball.
  • Unfair delivery action: If a bowler delivers a ball with unfair delivery action such as a weird expression, abusing the opponent batsman, giggling, etc. it is a no-ball.

How Does a free hit in cricket work? The Important Rules and Concepts of a Cricket-Free Hit

The free hit in cricket is a golden opportunity for batsmen to accumulate runs on the board by playing risky and fierce shots.  Allowing the batsman to play bold shots, suspends the fear of dismissal for a moment.

Consequently, the boosted confidence motivates the batsman to play daring strokes in the subsequent deliveries. 

1. No change in field placement:

The bowling side isn’t allowed to change in field placement on a free hit if the same batsman is on strike. This is because the batsman needs to be compensated for the unfair delivery of the bowler.

However, the bowling team may opt for a change in the fielder’s placement if there is a change in strike such as a run-out or odd number of runs taken. As the non-striker hasn’t faced a no-ball, an unfair advantage shouldn’t be provided.

2. Dismissal in Free Hit:

When bowled, caught out, or declared LBW, a batsman cannot be dismissed on a free-hit delivery. Except for a run-out and stumping, a batsman can utilize the opportunity to implement power-hitting strokes.

3. Umpire Signal:

Usually, an umpire will signal the free hit by extending one arm horizontally and circles vertically with the other one. This is an indication to the batsman to play fearless shots and test their luck by clearing the boundaries.

4. Wide Ball on a free-hit:

If a bowler delivers a wide ball on a free hit, the batting side gains an additional run without counting the ball. In such scenarios, the batting team gets another free hit.

5. Legal Delivery on a free-hit:

If a bowler restricts another no-ball, then it is counted as a fair delivery.

Free hit in cricket: Overall Facts

Overall, a free hit in cricket unleashes the attacking skills of a batsman that continues for the following deliveries.

A free hit in limited-overs cricket witnessed numerous turning points in the match. This rule enabled the batsman to score runs freely and instantly.

Simultaneously, a player can utilize the opportunity of a free hit based on the following factors:

  • Batsman’s temperament
  • Bowler’s level of disciplined bowling under pressure
  • Field Placement
  • Batsman’s timing and presence of mind with the shot selection
  • Fielding performance

The concept of free-hit has made the game more engaging and enjoyable for all cricket fans. A team significantly enhances its total to a great extent which makes it challenging for the opponent team to either chase or defend the target.

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