What is LBW? Leg Before Wicket in Cricket Explained

Cricket as a sport has some complex rules which are not too straightforward to comprehend. One such rule which has always had divided opinions due to the number of variables involved in its process is the LBW rule in cricket. In this article, we will discuss in detail and try to find answers to What is LBW in Cricket? What are the LBW rules? and much more.

What is LBW in Cricket – Meaning and Full Form

The full form of LBW is “Leg Before Wicket”. The importance of LBW stems from the fact that is one of the key modes of dismissals in cricket. Bowlers aim and attempt to deceive batters with pace, swing, or turn to trap them lbw in front of the wicket.

How is LBW decided?

The LBW mode of dismissal comes into the picture if the ball hits either the front or the back leg directly without making any contact with the bat. A batter is given out if the leg is assumed to have blocked the way of the ball which would have otherwise gone on to hit the stumps. However, there are multiple variables that govern if a batter is liable to be given lbw out or not.

LBW rules in cricket

There are many factors that come into play such as

  • Impact: This refers to the point where the ball hits on the pad. In order to be ruled lbw out, the impact of the ball must be in line with the stumps. This helps the umpire to identify whether the batter was in front of the wicket or not.
  • Pitching of the Ball: If the ball is pitched in line of the three stumps or outside the off-stump, only then the batter becomes a candidate of the lbw dismissal.
  • Hitting: The ball should be hitting the stumps as per the hawk-eye. If the ball is missing the stumps, then no batter can be given out lbw. However, the complexity of the ball hitting the stumps also involves the extensive use of the umpire's call in cricket.

The Role of DRS in LBW

Cricket has grown enormously in the last decade in terms of the usage of technology in the game. The crucial LBW calls are also decided using the DRS (Decision Review System). DRS has been a huge contributor in taking the howlers out of the game. While an umpire is likely to make mistakes, the lbw decisions that require spontaneous decision-making could result in a wrong call. In order to avoid any wrong decision being made, DRS proves to be of great advantage in cricket.

LBW Rules – Evolution over the Years

During the first few decades into cricket, there was no rule that would define a batter out when attempted to obstruct the ball using the pads. However, when this became a normal practice, the basics of lbw rules were introduced into the game. The batter was given out when the ball would hit the pad in front of the wicket.

However, many criticized this approach as it was difficult for the Umpires to decide whether the batter was deliberately stopping the ball with his pad or not. Therefore, In 1788, there was not a need for the Umpires to take notice of the intent of the batter. The batter would be given out if the ball strikes his leg and pitched up straight.

Between 1900-1930, the bowlers were frustrated by the batters who would not even attempt to play a shot or just kick away the ball by their leg which pitched outside off. Many players and Umpires approached MCC and requested a further modification of the law to make the games more entertaining.

From 1950-1970, batters started to defend leg-spin bowling by offering no shot on turning tracks and many critics sighted this as unfair. Therefore, in the 1969-70 season, A new law was introduced in West Indies and Australia that “if the batter does not genuinely offer a shot and if the ball is going to hit the stumps pitching in line or outside of the impact would not be into consideration and the batter would be given out by the On-field Umpire”.

This new addition to law forced the batsmen to play rather than offering no shot.

A changing perception – Courtesy DRS

Since the advent of DRS, there is a fair chance for the bowler to get the batter out lbw. Unlike in previous centuries, a batter can neither kick the ball pitched outside off stump nor can they continue to offer no shot. Umpires are entitled to rule a batter lbw out even on the front foot and the back foot. With an even contest, specifically in Test matches, the action has become far more enthralling to watch for the fans.

Kartik Bansal

An avid Cricket Follower