Cricket is a popular sport with an exciting history and a long rules tradition. The game’s origins are hazy, but it’s thought to have started in the early 17th century in southern England. The first set of written laws for cricket laid down by Marylebone Cricket Club in 1787 can be considered one of the first codified sports regulations. These became the basic rules that have been followed ever since. So if you are a cricket fan or cricket player who just has started to play, you must the rules of it.
Cricket rules are not much complicated as they seem. But terms like free hit can be pretty confusing as many concepts related to this term. Therefore, they are needed to understand first to get a better clearance of what is free hit in cricket. Also, it has to be noted that most of the rules are shared among all types of cricket games, unlike other games.
What Is A Free Hit?
A free hit is a period allocated in an innings when the fielding team can’t appeal for an out (except for run-outs) against a batter. This sudden relief from aggressive bowling might sound like a holiday, but it’s a calculated risk taken by the batting side. A field umpire signals the decision to give a free hit. Whenever a bowler oversteps the line while balling, it is ruled as No Ball by Umpire. So for every No Ball for overstepping, the umpire gives a free hit opportunity to the batsman.
When a free hit is announced, naturally, the batsman goes for big hits on free hit delivery. Every means of declaring a batter out is not applied during a free hit. As the word suggests itself, a free hit is a pass for the batsman to play freely without worrying about getting out. However, a batter can run out during a no-ball, leading to a free hit.
How did Free Hit start In International Cricket?
During the 2007 ICC T20I World Cup held in South Africa, a free hit was first introduced in International cricket. ICC implemented free hit for the first in first-ever T20I World Cup to attract more views and attention to the event. It played out, and the tournament was a huge success, and some of the biggest hits were recorded on free hits in the entire tournament.
Since then, free hit has been an integral part of limited over game. Moreover, as per the latest developments in cricket rules, the third umpire has been given the authority to give on-field decisions, including no balls for overstepping. This has led to more free hits in every match, multiplying the fun for viewers.
Rules Regarding Free Hit in Limited over Format of Cricket
- The basic regulation regarding free hit is applicable in limited over format only, namely T29I and One-day internationals. In test cricket, there is no such concept of a free hit.
- During a free hit, a batter cannot be given out in any condition. Thus allowing the batter to score freely.
- During the no-ball, which led to free hit, the field placement cannot be altered if the batsman on strike remains the same. However, If the batsman has changed their ends after a no-ball, the fielding team can change their field placement as per their choice.
- If the free hit delivery is not legitimate, i.e., a wide or no ball is bowled on free hit delivery, the free hit is applied to the succeeding delivery. The process remains the same unless the bowler balls a legitimate free hit delivery.
- It is applicable only on no-balls related to overstepping by the bowler.
How Free Hits Help A Batsman?
The free hit also presents an excellent opportunity for the batsman to get back into the game. With no worries about getting out, the batsman can bring backflow of runs and boost confidence to end their struggle to find the rhythm. Many incidents occur when the game’s momentum shifts towards a team after hitting a significant boundary on a free hit delivery.
The main intention of this rule is to protect the batters from dangerous bowling and give them a fresh opportunity against a new pair of bowlers. With a big hit on free hit delivery, a batter can change the tempo of his playing and start scoring at a better rate. Free hit can significantly increase the chances of a team to bring home victory because all it takes is a single big hit to turn back the odds in favor.