Laws of Cricket: Unusual signals and six leg byes? | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Laws of Cricket: Unusual signals and six leg byes?

This edition of Laws of Cricket, in association with the International Institute of Cricket Umpiring and Scoring, covers some more tricky questions of the Laws.

Many times on the pitch (and after the game) we have come to discuss whether a controversial situation should be allowed or not. There are precious few players with a deep enough understanding of the laws for our arguments to be resolved, but many times it's the players who also act as umpires. Now we can consult a team of expert experienced umpires for the answers to those tricky questions.

You can submit your own questions to the umpires here.

Unusual signals


I don’t play cricket, but I like watching the game when the weather is warm. Recently I was very puzzled by two signals given by the umpires. Firstly, having just signalled a boundary four, the umpire then crossed both his arms across his chest. Later on, the other umpire brought one arm across his chest and tapped his opposite shoulder. What did they mean?”


You saw two relatively new signals.  Crossing both arms across the chest, means ‘Revoke my last signal’ – evidently the ball had not been a boundary. The second was an award of five penalty runs to the batting side, for some misdemeanour committed by the fielding one.

Law 3.14 The umpires (Open Learning Manual Page 15)

A six in leg byes?


I was spectating when the bowler sent down a bouncer. The ball hit the batsman’s helmet while he was trying to avoid it, and flew off over the short boundary at the third man position. The umpire signalled Leg bye and followed this up with a signal for a boundary four. Why did he signal Leg byes and why didn’t he signal a six – since the ball never touched the ground before it crossed the boundary?”


Leg byes were awarded in this instance because the striker was hit while taking evasive action to avoid the ball. It is not possible to score a boundary six in Leg byes – or in Byes, Wides or No balls, come to that! A boundary six can only be scored if the ball has made contact with the bat or the hands or gloves holding it. 

Law 19.4 Boundaries (Open Learning Manual Page 60)

Remember you can submit your own umpiring and scoring questions here.

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I very much enjoy this articles. It would be great to have more question per article.

How does an umpire signal a no ball that has hit the pad (no contact with the bat) and gone for 4? How is this shown in the scorers book?

No ball and leg bye together, then four.

Thanks AB for your reply

Have you tried signalling the first one? How do you signal leg bye at the same time as no ball? Try it!

Actually, I have found the answer. It is done in 3 stages. First signal no ball, second signal byes (oddly not leg byes), then signal a 4. Just think of the poor scorer who (if not giving 100% concentration) gets confused after seeing 3 seemingly different signals. Therefore, please do not distract the scorer as they have a hard job to do and need to focus 100%.

I have also found out that all 5 runs are charged to the bowler and shown as 5 no balls. If it comes off the bat, then a different rule applies of charging 1 no ball and the rest attributed to the batsman.

Hi Keith,

Signalling has to happen in order of occurrence.

Here it is nb, leg byes and four boundary.

So umpire signals will be for no ball, leg byes signal and then signal the four.

More importantly the scorer should acknowledge all the 3 signals.