HomeCricketExplained: Time Out in Cricket

Explained: Time Out in Cricket

The game of cricket is governed by a plethora of rules and regulations. One such rule, often overlooked but crucial in certain circumstances, is the Timed-Out Rule. This rule, mentioned in the laws of cricket, deals with the time allotted for a batsman to appear on the field to begin their innings after the fall of a wicket. If the batsman does not come out to bat within the allotted time, he is declared out. 

A lot of people Googled Timed-Out meaning in cricket last year when Angelo Mathews became the first international cricketer to be dismissed using this method during a match against Bangladesh in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.

In this article, we delve deep into what is Time-Out in cricket, its significance, and instances when it came into play.

What is Time Out in Cricket? 

According to the laws of cricket, a batsman is expected to be ready to face the next delivery within a stipulated time after the fall of a wicket. This time frame, known as the ‘timeout period,’ is generally set at three minutes.

Failure to adhere to this timeframe results in the batsman being declared ‘timed out,’ leading to their dismissal without facing a delivery. The umpire officiating the match is responsible for enforcing this rule and signalling the timed-out decision if necessary.

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History of Time Out Rule in Cricket 

The addition of “Timed Out” as a specific method of dismissal was introduced in the Laws of Cricket in the 1980 code. Initially, it allotted two minutes for the incoming batter to “step onto the field of play.” However, in the 2000 code, this was amended to three minutes for the batter to “be in position to take guard or for his partner to be ready to receive the next ball.”

In a notable incident dating back to 1919, Sussex cricketer Harold Heygate was deemed “timed out” by umpire Alfred Street during a first-class County Championship match against Somerset at Taunton. The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) subsequently affirmed the umpire’s decision to conclude the Sussex innings when Heygate failed to appear within two minutes. 

Under the current laws, timed out in cricket means that upon the fall of a previous wicket or the retirement of the previous batsman, the incoming batter must be prepared to receive the ball or have their partner ready to do so within a specified timeframe. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in the incoming batter being discussed timed out.

The time given for the incoming batter to be ready varies depending on the match format. In general, it’s 3 minutes as per Law 40, but it’s reduced to 2 minutes for Test and One Day International cricket. T20 cricket further shortens it to 90 seconds. An on-field dugout is often provided in T20 cricket to facilitate quick transition of batters.

Law 40.1.1 of the MCC states – After the fall of a wicket or the retirement of a batter, the incoming batter must, unless Time has been called, be ready to receive the ball, or for the other batter to be ready to receive the next ball within 3 minutes of the dismissal or retirement. If this requirement is not met, the incoming batter will be out, Timed out.

But, according to ICC World Cup 2023 playing conditions, the time limit for the incoming batter is two minutes. Going by this ICC rule, Angelo Matthews was dismissed Timed Out during the World Cup.

During match 38 of the Cricket World Cup 2023 featuring Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Mathews took significant time to get ready to face the ball. Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan appealed, resulting in Mathews being declared out by the umpire.

Mathews explained to both Shakib and the on-field umpires that his late arrival to the crease was due to his helmet strap breaking. After tightening his helmet, the chin strap broke, necessitating a replacement helmet and causing him to exceed the time limit to face the first ball. Despite Mathews’ explanation, Shakib refused to withdraw the appeal. Mathews expressed his disagreement with the decision of on-field umpires Richard Illingworth and Marais Erasmus. Shakib complained that Mathews failed to be ready to face his first delivery within the two-minute time limit specified by the competition rules, and the batsman was eventually given an out.

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Instances of Timed-Out Dismissal in Cricket History 

In first-class cricket, six instances of timed out dismissals have been recorded. Andrew Jordaan was unable to reach the ground due to flooded roads during Eastern Province’s match against Transvaal at Port Elizabeth in 1987–88. Hemulal Yadav remained engaged in conversation with his team manager on the boundary during Tripura’s game against Orissa at Cuttack in 1997–98. 

Vasbert Drakes was still in transit from his native West Indies via airplane when Border faced Free State at East London in 2002. AJ Harris, suffering from a groin strain, delayed reaching the crease during Nottinghamshire’s match against Durham UCCE at Nottingham in 2003. Ryan Austin, batting at number 11, failed to make it to the crease on time during Combined Campuses and Colleges’ clash with Windward Islands at Kingstown, St Vincent in 2013–14. 

Finally, Charles Kunje faced a similar fate during a match between Matabeleland Tuskers and Mountaineers at Bulawayo in 2017-18.

In international cricket, there has been just one instance of Time-Out rule in cricket being applied, the one we already discussed above, involving Angelo Mathews. 

Notably, during a 2007 Test match, Sourav Ganguly took six minutes to take guard, as usual No.4 batsman Sachin Tendulkar was unavailable to bat after being off the field at the end of the previous innings. Despite this delay, Proteas captain Graeme Smith opted not to appeal.


In essence, the Timed-Out Rule in cricket serves as a reminder of the importance of time management and discipline in the sport. While its enforcement may seem harsh at times, particularly in high-pressure situations, it plays a vital role in maintaining the integrity and fairness of the game. 

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