A cricketer kissed his bat at the end of the game. A cricketer kissed his bat at the end of the game.

A Comprehensive Guide: What Is a Free Hit in Cricket

A Free-hit rule is one of the best innovations in cricket. A free hit not only increases the tension and thrill but may also change the course of the game. How does free hit operate and what is it? Here, we go over it all.
When a bowler performs this infraction, the batsman gets a “free hit” on another ball. It means that they can expel through a run-out, hit-wicket, obstruct the field, or handle the ball, but not by getting out through a catch, bowled, LBW, or being out.
The free-hit new rule has become something that people enjoy watching as it often outcomes in high-scoring moments. In short, making it an important part of the modern cricketing spectacle. It has not only added fun to the game but also encouraged bowlers, to maintain strict discipline at the cricket crease, elevating the overall fairness and competitiveness of cricket.
A view of two players playing a cricket game to view what is afree hit in cricket.
Image by Patrick Case from Pexels/Copyright 2020

1. What Is a Free Hit in Cricket?

On October 2nd, 2007, Cricket Free Hit was officially introduced after receiving approval from the ICC Chief Executives’ Committee. After a meeting in Dubai, the board gave its consent. The first time the rule was used was in Bangalore during an ODI between Australia and India.
Moreover, in cricket, a free hit is a rule that permits the batting team a unique benefit after the bowler commits a specific infraction, usually by overstepping the crease while delivering the ball. When a bowler delivers a no-ball, the batsman at the non-striker’s end is eligible to face the following delivery as a free hit.

Hence this means that the batsman cannot be expelled through most conventional means, like being out, caught, or leg-before-wicket (LBW), on that specific delivery.

So, the free hit rule permits the batsman a significant benefit, as the only mode of discharge possible is through a run-out or a hit-wicket. Essentially, the batter has the freedom to play a more aggressive shot without the fear of losing their wicket in the typical ways.

This rule was present to motivate bowlers to maintain discipline and neglect overstepping the crease, thus, reducing the number of no-balls in the cricket game and encouraging fair competition between bat and ball.

2. Essential Rules to Follow During a Free Hit

Overall, during a free hit in cricket, a complete set of essential rules to follow:

2.1. Bowler Foot Placement

Firstly, the bowler is required to be extremely cautious about their front foot placements when playing the match.

The bowler must keep their front foot always behind the crease, without any part of the foot overstepping the crease line. Therefore, Failure to do so results in a no-ball and the batsman continues to enjoy the free hit benefits.

2.2. Mode of Dismissal

Secondly, the batsman, while facing a free-hit delivery, can only be dissolved through specific modes.

Alternatively, these involve run-out, hit-wicket, or obstructing the field. Hence traditional modes of dismissal like bowled, caught, and leg-before-wicket (LBW) are not accepted during a free hit.

2.3. Field Placement

Thirdly the fielding team needs to adhere to some field placements during a free hit.

So, all fielders, except for the wicketkeeper and the bowler, should be inside the 30-yard circle until the ball is out. If any fielder is placed outside this circle before the ball is out contemplate a fielding infringement.

2.4. Changing Strikes

After the batsman takes a run off of the free hit delivery, they have the chance to switch ends with the non-striker, just as they would after a normal delivery. In this case, it gives flexibility in planning their next moves.

Moreover, these rules governing free hits are in place to make sure that the batting side receives a distinct benefit while still maintaining fairness and competitive balance in the game of cricket.

By restricting modes of dismissal and emphasizing bowler discipline, free-hit goals create exciting and aggressive batting opportunities.

Few players playing cricket in a park.
Image by Steward Maswener from Pexels/Copyright 2021

3. When Is Free Hit Granted?

A free hit in cricket is granted to the batting team when the bowler performs a specific infraction, which is typically overstepping the crease while delivering the ball. Here’s a comprehensive explanation:

3.1. No-Ball Offense

A free hit is granted as a penalty when the bowler commits a no-ball offense.

A no-ball is signed by the on-field umpire if the bowler’s front foot crosses the bowling side crease while delivering the ball, thereby indicating an illegal delivery.

3.2. Umpire Signal

Secondly, the umpires make a clear and visible indication, usually by extending one arm horizontally, to signal that the upcoming delivery is a free hit.

For this reason, this signal addresses the batsman, the fielding team, and the audience that the next ball will be a free hit.

3.3. Benefits to the Batsman

Thirdly the major purpose of awarding a free hit is to offer a significant advantage to the batting team.

in this case, when a free hit is granted, the batsman can only expel using a run-out, hit-wicket, or obstructing the field.

So, this shows that traditional modes of dismissal like being out, caught, or leg-before-wicket (LBW) are not in use.

3.4. Field Placement

For this reason, Fielding restrictions come into action during a free hit. All fielders, except for the wicketkeeper and the bowler, must be in place within the 30-yard circle till the ball is out.

It confirms that the batsman has an opportunity to play an aggressive shot without any risk of conventional dismissals.

3.5. Change of Strike

If the batsman takes a run off the delivery during a free hit, they retain the strike and have the choice to change ends with the non-striker, as is customary in cricket.

In short, a free hit is a special privilege given to the batting team when the bowler commits a no-ball offense, and it permits the batsman to face a delivery without the fear of most conventional modes of dismissal while also imposing fielding restrictions on the opposing team players.

Therefore, this rule focuses to encourage fair play and maintain the thrill of the game.

A view of the 'no ball' in a cricket game. A batsman missed a ball while keeping his leg out of a white line.
Image by Patrick Case from Pexels/Copyright 2020

4. Final Words 

At the end of this article, we can conclude that the free hit ball has successfully, elevated the interest in limited-overs cricket, giving fans all around the world memorable and interesting moments with which the audience resonates.

Furthermore, this aspect of the cricket game has also been celebrated and ensured, that cricket always remains everyone’s favorite and cherished sport.

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