Understanding Overthrows in Cricket

Cricket is a sport steeped in tradition and complexity, with rules that have evolved over centuries. Among these rules, the concept of an overthrows in cricket is one of the more nuanced and impactful aspects of the game.

An overthrow can change the momentum of a match, turning a routine play into a dramatic opportunity for the batting side. In this blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of overthrows, exploring the rules, notable examples, strategic implications, and some of the most significant incidents in cricket history.

1. What is an Overthrow?

An overthrow in cricket occurs when a fielder’s attempt to throw the ball back to the wicketkeeper or bowler results in the ball missing its intended target, allowing the batsmen to score additional runs. This often happens when a fielder throws the ball inaccurately or the receiving player fails to collect it cleanly, leading to the ball traveling away from the fielders.

Understanding overthrows is crucial for both players and fans as it highlights the importance of precision and communication in fielding. Errors can have significant consequences on the game’s outcome.

2. Rules Governing Overthrows

The rules surrounding overthrows are defined by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and are further detailed in Law 19.8 of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Laws of Cricket:

Number of Runs Added:

  • The number of runs scored from an overthrow is the sum of the runs the batsmen have already completed plus any additional runs they manage to run while the ball is being retrieved.

Crediting Runs:

  • Runs scored from an overthrow are typically added to the batsman’s score, unless they result from a no-ball or wide, in which case they are recorded as extras.

Ball in Play:

  • An overthrow is only valid if the ball remains in play. If the ball goes out of play, boundary rules apply, such as four additional runs if the ball crosses the boundary line.


  • If the batsmen have completed two runs and the fielder’s throw goes past the wicketkeeper, allowing the batsmen to run two more, a total of four runs are added to the score.

Cricket Law 19.8:

  • According to this law, if a fielder throws the ball and it crosses the boundary line, the batting side is awarded the boundary runs in addition to the runs completed before the throw. This ensures that the fielding team is penalized for inaccuracies in fielding.

3. Cricket Laws 19.8 and 18.12.2 with Deliberate Overthrow Example

Law 19.8:

  • Law 19.8 deals with the topic of deliberate attempts by fielders to distract or obstruct batsmen. It states:

“If, in the opinion of either umpire, any fielder deliberately strikes the ball with a hat, or any other object not in his/her hand while the ball is in play, after it has been delivered by the bowler, except for the purpose of attempting to run out either batsman, or of saving a boundary, the ball shall become dead and 5 Penalty runs shall be awarded to the batting side, unless the ball previously struck a batsman other than the striker.”

  • This law aims to prevent fielders from using objects other than their hands to interfere with the ball’s trajectory.


  • In the second Test between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe in Abu Dhabi, a penalty was given under this law for a deliberate overthrow. During the match, a fielder deliberately threw the ball in such a way that it distracted or obstructed the batsman, leading to the umpire enforcing Law 19.8 and penalizing the fielding side with five penalty runs.

Law 18.12.2:

  • This law relates to the process of dismissal in cricket. It states:

“An obstruction appeal shall be made in accordance with 19.7 but where the obstruction is caused by the striker running on the pitch, Law 18.12.2 shall apply.”

  • This law is about appeals for obstruction, particularly when the obstruction is caused by the striker running on the pitch. It defines a specific process to be followed in such cases.

Need for Clarification:

  • Further clarification might be needed in Law 19.8 because the interpretation of what constitutes a deliberate attempt to distract or obstruct the batsman can sometimes be subjective. Additionally, the law could be subject to interpretation regarding what actions are considered within the bounds of fair play and what actions would be penalized.
  • For example, the law does not specify what constitutes a “deliberate” act. Is it only deliberate if the fielder clearly intends to distract the batsman, or is it also applicable if the fielder’s action could be interpreted as accidental but still has the effect of distracting the batsman?
  • Clarity may be required on what actions constitute saving a boundary or attempting to run out a batsman to ensure the law is applied consistently and fairly across different matches and situations.

4. Examples of Overthrows

Overthrows have played pivotal roles in many high-stakes matches. Here are some notable examples:

2019 ICC Cricket World Cup Final:

  • One of the most controversial overthrows occurred in this match. England’s Ben Stokes inadvertently deflected a throw to the boundary while diving for a second run, resulting in four additional runs. This critical moment contributed to the match ending in a tie and England eventually winning in the Super Over.

2005 Ashes Series, 2nd Test at Edgbaston:

  • In a nail-biting finish, Australia’s attempt to secure a victory was thwarted in part due to crucial overthrows that allowed England to accumulate vital runs, ultimately winning the match by just two runs.

2013 India vs. South Africa Champions Trophy:

  • In the final over, an overthrow dramatically swung the game in India’s favor, helping them secure a narrow victory over South Africa.

Table of Notable Overthrows:

ICC Cricket World Cup Final2019Ben Stokes deflects a throw to the boundary, awarding England four additional runs.Helped England tie the match, leading to their victory in the Super Over.
Ashes Series, 2nd Test2005Crucial overthrows allowed England to accumulate vital runs in a closely contested match.England won by just two runs.
India vs. South Africa2013Overthrow in the final over swung the game in India’s favor.Helped India secure a narrow victory over South Africa.
World Cup Semi-Final1999A critical overthrow nearly allowed South Africa to secure victory before a dramatic run-out.Highlighted the importance of fielding precision in high-stakes matches.
IPL Final2016Crucial overthrow gave Sunrisers Hyderabad an advantage in the final overs.Contributed to Sunrisers Hyderabad’s victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Visual Aid:

Ben Stokes deflects the ball to the boundary during the 2019 World Cup Final.

5. Calculating Overthrows

Calculating runs from overthrows involves:

Initial Runs:

  • Count the runs completed before the fielder’s throw.

Additional Runs:

  • Add the extra runs completed after the ball goes astray.

Boundary Overthrows:

  • Include any boundary runs if the ball crosses the boundary line due to the overthrow.

Example Scenario:

  • Initial Runs: 2
  • Additional Runs: 2
  • Boundary Runs: 4
  • Total: 2 (initial) + 2 (additional) + 4 (boundary) = 8 runs

6. Strategic Implications of Overthrows

Offensive Strategies:

Aggressive Running:

  • Batsmen can exploit fielding errors by running aggressively between the wickets, putting pressure on fielders.

Psychological Pressure:

  • Consistently testing the fielders can induce mistakes and lead to overthrows.

Defensive Strategies:

Fielding Techniques:

  • Emphasizing accurate throws and proper collection techniques during training can minimize overthrows.

Strategic Field Placements:

  • Positioning fielders to back up throws can prevent additional runs from overthrows.

7. Controversies and Misunderstandings

Overthrows often lead to controversies, especially in high-stakes matches. Common misconceptions include:

When Runs Should be Credited:

  • Confusion can arise over whether runs should be credited to the batsman or recorded as extras.

Boundary Overthrows:

  • Clarifying the rule that if the ball crosses the boundary after an overthrow, four additional runs are awarded regardless of the initial runs completed.

Recent Controversies:

  • Recent controversies, such as the 2019 World Cup Final, have led to discussions on rule amendments to prevent such issues in the future.

8. Incidents Where Overthrows Played a Crucial Part in Winning the Match

2019 ICC Cricket World Cup Final:

  • The four additional runs awarded to England during the final moments were crucial in tying the match and leading to the Super Over, which resulted in England winning their first World Cup.

1999 World Cup Semi-Final:

  • In the match between South Africa and Australia, a critical overthrow allowed Allan Donald and Lance Klusener to almost secure victory for South Africa before the dramatic run-out.

2013 India vs. South Africa Champions Trophy:

  • The final over saw an overthrow off the last ball that helped India secure a narrow victory over South Africa.

2016 IPL Final:

  • In the final overs, a crucial overthrow gave Sunrisers Hyderabad a critical advantage over Royal Challengers Bangalore, leading to their victory.

These incidents underscore the unpredictable nature of cricket and the importance of minimizing fielding errors.

9. Conclusion

In summary, overthrows are a significant aspect of cricket that can dramatically alter the course of a match. Understanding the rules, strategic implications, and historical examples can enhance one’s appreciation of the sport. By focusing on improving fielding techniques and being aware of the potential for overthrows, teams can better manage these situations.

10. Additional Resources

ICC Official Rules on Overthrows

  • “Beyond a Boundary” by C.L.R. James: A classic book that delves into the cultural and social aspects of cricket.
  • “Playing It My Way” by Sachin Tendulkar: Offers insights into the cricketing career of one of the game’s legends, with anecdotes about crucial matches and moments, including discussions on fielding and game strategies.
  • “The Art of Captaincy” by Mike Brearley: Provides an in-depth look at cricket captaincy and strategy, including managing field placements and minimizing errors.

11. Interactive Section

FAQs About Overthrows in Cricket

How to Score Overthrows in Cricket?

Overthrows are scored when a fielder’s throw results in additional runs, often due to an errant throw that allows the batsmen to run extra runs. These runs are added to the total scored off the delivery. The initial runs run by the batsmen, plus the additional runs from the overthrow, are all added together to the batting team’s score.

How Many Runs Can We Run on Overthrow?

There is no specific limit to the number of runs that can be taken on an overthrow. Batsmen can continue running as long as the ball is in play and not dead. Theoretically, this could result in a significant number of runs if fielding errors continue to occur.

Can You Get 6 Overthrows?

Yes, it is possible to score 6 runs off overthrows. This usually occurs if the ball thrown by a fielder goes to the boundary after the batsmen have run between the wickets. The total runs will include the ones taken by running plus the boundary runs (4 for a boundary or 6 if the ball clears the boundary without touching the ground).

Why Are Overthrows Called Buzzers?

The term “buzzers” for overthrows is derived from the buzz or excitement they create during a match. This term is primarily used in British cricket slang and adds a playful element to the occurrence of overthrows.

Can a Batsman Run 4 Runs Without Overthrows?

Yes, a batsman can run 4 runs without any overthrows, although it is quite rare. This typically happens on very large grounds or if the fielders are particularly slow or make significant mistakes in retrieving the ball.

Do Overthrows Go Against the Bowler?

No, overthrows are not counted against the bowler. They are recorded as additional runs in the batsmen’s score and the team’s total, but they are considered a fielding error. The initial runs off the ball, including boundaries, are credited to the bowler’s figures, but the extra runs from overthrows are attributed to fielding lapses.

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