In this article we break down all the cricket umpire signals and their meanings – a great list for the beginner but also a useful refresher for the more experienced cricket player or watcher.
When the umpire says “Out,” it means that the fielding team’s appeal has been accepted and the batter is out.
The umpire shows this by raising their index finger.
Result: The batter is now out and needs to exit the field.
If the “out” call is successfully changed after a review, the umpire needs to say that the batter is “not out”.
The umpire shows this by waving their arms in front of their chest.
Keep in mind, if the umpire rejects an appeal on the field, they don’t need to make a “not out” signal. Simply shaking their head or saying “not out” is enough.
This signal is given when a bowler makes an illegal throw, known as a “No Ball” in the game rules.
The umpire shows this by extending one arm fully out to the side.
Result: The batting team gets one extra run (or two in some versions of cricket).
Remember, a “No Ball” can happen for various reasons, like if the bowler steps over the line or if the ball lands outside the wicket.
A “Free Hit” comes after specific types of “No Ball” throws.
The umpire shows this by raising one hand above their head and moving it in a circle.
Result: The batter can now hit the ball without getting out, unless they run out, block the field, or hit the ball twice.
If a ball is thrown too far from the batter to reach while standing normally, it’s called a “wide” ball.
The umpire shows this by extending both arms out to the sides.
Result: The batting team gets an extra run, and the bowler has to throw the ball again.
Remember, a ball can also be called “wide” if it’s thrown too high.
Four runs are scored when the ball crosses the boundary after bouncing at least once.
The umpire shows this by waving their right hand across their body three or four times.
Result: The batting team gets four extra runs.
If these four runs are due to byes, leg byes, no balls or wides, the umpire will first give the appropriate signal before indicating the four runs.
Six runs are scored when the batter hits the ball over the boundary and it doesn’t bounce.
The umpire shows this by raising both arms above their head.
Result: The batting team gets an additional six runs.
A “bye” is scored when the ball goes past the stumps and the batters can run. The ball shouldn’t touch the bat or any part of the batter’s body.
The umpire shows this by raising one arm above their head.
Result: The batting team gets as many runs as the batters can complete.
“Leg byes” are scored when the batters run after the ball hits the batter’s leg or body, but not the glove.
The umpire shows this by raising a knee and tapping it with their hand.
Result: The batting team gets as many runs as the batters are able to run.
If a ball bounces higher than shoulder level, the umpire will call it a “bouncer.”
The umpire shows this by tapping their right shoulder.
Result: The bowler and batter are alerted that a “bouncer” has been called, and specific rules for short-pitched bowling are applied.
DRS or Third Umpire
If the batting or fielding team wants to review a decision made on the field, they can request the Decision Review System.
The umpire shows this by making a square shape with their hands.
Result: A third umpire will review the decision and either confirm or change it.
A “dead ball” can be called for various reasons. Usually, it happens when the batter steps back while the bowler is in the middle of their throw.
The umpire shows this by sweeping both arms across their knees and saying “dead ball.”
Result: The “dead ball” isn’t counted as a throw and has to be thrown again.
If a batter doesn’t move their bat past the popping crease, the umpire should call it a “short run.”
The umpire shows this by tapping their shoulder with an extended arm and saying “one short.”
Result: The incomplete run won’t be added to the batting team’s total.
“Penalty runs” are given to either the batting or bowling team for various violations.
The umpire shows this by moving their hand across their chest and placing it on their shoulder. If they tap their shoulder, the runs are for the batting team. If the hand stays put, the runs go to the fielding team.
Result: Typically, 5 runs are added to the score of the appropriate team.
A decision is reversed if the third umpire changes it after a review.
The umpire shows this by crossing their arms over their chest and then making a sweeping motion below their waist.
Result: The initial decision is then changed.
“Powerplays” are used in limited overs cricket and they limit the fielding positions.
The umpire shows this by rotating their arm in the air like a windmill.
Result: The specific “Powerplay” now starts.
The “soft signal” is a hint to the third umpire about the expected decision.
The umpire shows this by giving the usual “out” or “not out” signals.
Result: The third umpire needs to find clear evidence against the “soft signal” to overturn it; otherwise, they will confirm it.
In first-class cricket, teams can get a new ball after every 80 overs.
The umpire shows this by holding the new ball towards the scorekeepers.
Result: The fielding team can now use the new ball.
In first-class cricket, there’s a final hour on the last day of the match.
The umpire shows this by raising their wrist above their head and pointing to their watch.
Result: The final hour of the match now begins.
If the umpire makes a wrong decision for any reason, they can use the “cancel call” signal.
The umpire shows this by crossing their arms and touching their shoulders with the opposite hand.
Result: The original call is cancelled and no longer applies.