Scoring (cricket)

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In cricket, scoring is achieved by accumulating "runs". A team's total can be further increased by the award of "extras" (known as "sundries" in Australasia), which are in effect penalties imposed on the opposition. The term "scoring" is also applied to methods of recording the score, which is done off-field by officials called "scorers" (one per team).


A single run (known as a "single") is scored when a batsman (known as the "striker") has hit the ball with his bat and directed it away from the fielders so that he and his partner (the "non-striker") have time to run towards the wicket at the other end of the pitch, where each batsmen must ground his bat behind the popping crease to complete the run. Depending on how long it takes the fielding team to recover the ball, the batsmen may run more than once. Each completed run increments the scores of both the team and the striker. Attempting a run carries a risk factor because either batsman can be run out, and thereby dismissed, if the fielding side can break the wicket with the ball before the batsman has completed the run.

Scoring runs is the subject of Law 18 in The Laws of Cricket.[1] The act of running is unnecessary if the batsman hits the ball to the marked boundary of the field. If the ball reaches the boundary having made contact with the ground, four runs are automatically added to the scores of both the batsman and the team. If the batsman succeeds in hitting the ball over the boundary on the full (i.e., the ball does not make contact with the ground until it is beyond the boundary), six runs are added. Batsmen frequently run singles and also "twos" and "threes". There are rare instances of "fours" being all run when the ball does not reach the boundary. The batsmen stop running when the ball is being returned to either the bowler or the wicket-keeper. In addition to runs, the team total is incremented by extras, also known as "sundries", which are awarded as a form of penalty against the fielding side, either because the bowler has broken the rules or because the fielders have failed to control a loose ball which did not make contact with the bat. Extras are not added to the batsman's individual score.[1]

If, when attempting to turn for an additional run, one of the batsmen fails to ground his bat behind the popping crease, the umpire declares a "short run" and this is not added to the score. A short run is also called if one of the batsmen drops his bat when running and does not recover it before completing the run. The umpire can, at his discretion, warn the batsman if he considers a short run to have been a deliberate act. In that event, the umpire will cancel all runs made following the last delivery and will instead impose a five-run penalty on the batting team, reducing their score by five: this is an extreme course of action that is rarely undertaken.


Additional runs can be gained by the batting team as "extras" or "sundries" by courtesy of the fielding side. This is achieved in four ways:

  1. No ball – a penalty of one extra that is conceded by the bowler if he breaks the rules of bowling either by (a) using an inappropriate arm action; (b) overstepping the popping crease; (c) having a foot outside the return crease.[2]
  2. Wide – a penalty of one extra that is conceded by the bowler if he bowls so that the ball is out of the batsman's reach.[3]
  3. Bye – extra(s) awarded if the batsman makes no contact with the ball and it goes past the wicket-keeper to give the batsmen time to run in the conventional way.[4]
  4. Leg bye – extra(s) awarded if the batsman does not hit the ball with his bat or his hand holding the bat but it strikes another part of his body (not just his leg) and goes away from the fielders to give the batsmen time to run in the conventional way.[4]

When the bowler has bowled a no ball or a wide, his team incurs an additional penalty because that ball (i.e., delivery) has to be bowled again and hence the batting side has the opportunity to score more runs from this extra ball.[2][3] The batsmen have to run (i.e., unless the ball goes to the boundary for four) to claim byes and leg byes but these only count towards the team total, and to the extras, not to the striker's individual total for which runs must be scored off the bat.[4] For a leg bye to count, the umpire must be satisfied that the batsman tried to play a shot or that he was trying to avoid being struck by the ball.[4]


Scoring is recorded by two off-field officials, one from each team, who are called scorers. They record the details of every delivery bowled based on signals they receive from the onfield umpires. A delivery which results in no run, no dismissal and no extra is termed a "dot ball" because the scorers in their scorebooks simply make a dot. If runs are scored, they note the number and if there is a dismissal they write "W" in the delivery section and then record the names of fielder and bowler, plus the batsman's total score and the team's total at the point of dismissal. Afterwards, statistical details of the whole match are summarised in a published scorecard.


In the written records of cricket, "run" is as old as "cricket" itself. In the earliest known reference to the sport, dated Monday, 17 January 1597 (Julian date), Surrey coroner John Derrick made a legal deposition concerning a plot of land in Guildford that when (c.1550):[5]

a scholler of the Ffree Schoole of Guildeford, hee and diverse of his fellowes did runne and play there at creckett and other plaies.

It may well be that in this context, "runne" meant running in general. For a long time, until well into the 18th century, the scorers sat on the field and increments to the score were known as "notches" because they would notch the scores on a stick, with a deeper knick at 20, which of course represented a score. The same method was used by shepherds when counting sheep.[6] In the earliest known Laws, dated 1744, one of the rules states:[7]

If in running a Notch, the Wicket is struck down by a Throw, before his Foot, Hand, or Bat is over the Popping-Crease, or a Stump hit by the Ball, though the Bail was down, it's out".

In the 1774 version, the equivalent rule states:[8]

Or if in running a notch, the wicket is struck down by a throw, or with the ball in hand, before his foot, hand, or bat is grounded over the popping-crease; but if the bail is off, a stump must be struck out of the ground by the ball".


  1. 1.0 1.1 Law 18 – Scoring runs. MCC, The Laws of Cricket (2017).
  2. 2.0 2.1 Law 21 – No ball. MCC, The Laws of Cricket (2017).
  3. 3.0 3.1 Law 22 – Wide ball. MCC, The Laws of Cricket (2017).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Law 23 – Bye and leg bye. MCC, The Laws of Cricket (2017).
  5. From Lads to Lord's – 1597. Stumpsite (2007). Retrieved on 24 January 2016.
  6. From Lads to Lord's – 1700. Stumpsite (2007). Retrieved on 24 January 2016.
  7. From Lads to Lord's – 1744. Stumpsite (2007). Retrieved on 24 January 2016.
  8. From Lads to Lord's – 1774. Stumpsite (2007). Retrieved on 24 January 2016.


  • Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC): The Laws. MCC, The Laws of Cricket (2017).