Hit the ball twice

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Hit the ball twice, or "double-hit", is a method of dismissal in the sport of cricket.


Law 34 of the Laws of cricket states:[1]

Law 34 (Hit the ball twice)
1. Out Hit the ball twice
(a) The striker is out Hit the Ball Twice if, while the ball is in play, it strikes any part of his person or is struck by his bat and, before the ball has been touched by a fielder, he wilfully strikes it again with his bat or person, other than a hand not holding the bat, except for the sole purpose of guarding his wicket. See 3 below and Laws 33 (Handled the ball) and 37 (Obstructing the field). See 3 below and Laws 33 (Handled the ball) and 37 (Obstructing the field).
(b) For the purpose of this Law, 'struck' or 'strike' shall include contact with the person of the striker.

The bowler does not get credit for the wicket.[1]


Cricket is often considered to be a rather gentle pastime but it has a history of extreme violence. In its early days, before the modern rules had universal effect, batsmen could go to almost any lengths to avoid being out. They could obstruct the fielders and they could hit the ball as many times as necessary to preserve their wicket. This had fatal consequences on more than one occasion and, ultimately, strict rules were introduced to prevent the batsman from physically attacking the fielders.

In 1622, several parishioners of Boxgrove, near Chichester in West Sussex, were prosecuted for playing cricket in a churchyard on Sunday 5 May. There were three reasons for the prosecution: one was that it contravened a local bye-law; another reflected concern about church windows which may or may not have been broken; the third was that "a little childe had like to have her braines beaten out with a cricket batt".[2]

The latter situation was because the rules at the time allowed the batsman to hit the ball more than once and so fielding near the batsman was very hazardous, as two later incidents confirm.

In 1624, a fatality occurred at Horsted Keynes in East Sussex when a fielder called Jasper Vinall was struck on the head by the batsman, Edward Tye, who was trying to hit the ball a second time to avoid being caught. Vinall is thus the earliest known cricketing fatality. The matter was recorded in a coroner’s court, which returned a verdict of misadventure.[2]

In 1647, another fatality was recorded at Selsey, West Sussex, when a fielder called Henry Brand was hit on the head by a batsman trying to hit the ball a second time.[2]

It is not known when the rules were changed to outlaw striking for the ball a second time or when the offence of obstructing the field was introduced, but both those rules were clearly stated in the 1744 codification of the Laws of Cricket, which were drawn up by the London Cricket Club and are believed to be based on a much earlier code that has been lost.[citation needed]

The first definite record of a batsman being dismissed for hitting the ball twice occurred in the Hampshire v Kent match at Windmill Down on 13–15 July 1786. Tom Sueter of Hampshire, who had scored 3, was the player in question, as recorded in Scores and Biographies.[3]

Unusual dismissal[edit]

An example of the dismissal occurred in 1906 when John King, playing for Leicestershire against Surrey at The Oval tried to score a run after playing the ball twice to avoid getting bowled. Had he not tried to score a run, he would not have been out. Based on the history of the game, this method of dismissal is the second rarest after timed out, recorded merely on twenty-one occasions, although in modern times timed out has become more common.[4]

One relatively recent example of a batsman being out "Hit the ball twice" was Kurt Wilkinson's dismissal when playing for Barbados against Rest of Leeward Islands in the 2002–03 Red Stripe Bowl. The dismissal was controversial as there was doubt as to whether Wilkinson had "wilfully" struck the ball twice as required under the relevant law of cricket.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Marylebone Cricket Club (2003). "The official laws of cricket: Law 34 (Hit the ball twice)". Retrieved 14 May 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c Timothy J McCann, Sussex Cricket in the Eighteenth Century, Sussex Record Society, 2004
  3. ^ Arthur Haygarth, Scores & Biographies, Volume 1 (1744-1826), Lillywhite, 1862
  4. ^ Wisden Cricketers' Almanack – 1907 issue
  5. ^ CricInfo report

External sources[edit]