What is a Beamer in Cricket? Dangerous Bowling and Unfair Play Rules

There are some deliveries, like the beamer in cricket that are dangerous to the batsman. However, it involves serious consequences to the bowler, no matter whether it was accidental or intentional.

What is a Beamer Ball?

A beamer delivery is an illegal ball in cricket which reaches the batsman at above waist height, without bouncing. It’s important to distinguish the delivery from a full toss which will generally reach the batter below the waist.

Beamer Balls and Dangerous Bowling in Cricket

A beamer is illegal because it is a dangerous delivery: When a pace bowler sends a beamer down, the batsman has little time to react and there is an increased danger of serious injury.

For that reason, the beamer is outlawed. The bowler’s umpire should call ‘no ball’ and there are sanctions in place for the bowler who delivers it.


How Many Beamers are Allowed?

If a bowler delivers a beamer, accidental or otherwise, they should be given an official warning by the umpire. If a second beamer is subsequently delivered by the same bowler, they should be taken out of the attack and will be unable to bowl for the rest of the innings.

Unfair Play Laws

The laws of cricket cover several aspects of dangerous bowling and there are points that are specifically related to beamers.

The umpires should consider bowling to be dangerous if a bowler consistently delivers bouncers as an intimidation tactic. That is to say, they are continually trying to intimidate or even hurt the batter rather than get them out.

The relevant law also covers fast balls that are delivered over waist height and deliveries of any speed that reach the batsman over head height. When these occur, umpires should consider the deliveries to constitute dangerous play and they should take the course of action mentioned in the previous section.

Beamer Ball

Accidental Beamers

I’d like to think all beamers are accidental. This isn’t always the case but the majority of beamer deliveries are sent down unintentionally without any deliberate attempt to injure or intimidate the batsman.

There is some footage on YouTube of Umar Akmal getting hit on the hand by a beamer from Tino Best. It’s a nasty delivery but Best holds his hand up immediately to apologise and you can see that the ball slips from his hand upon release.

Beamers can often take place in wet conditions when the ball slips from the bowler’s hands and I can remember Craig Overton doing this in a limited overs match when there was heavy dew around.

Accidental or otherwise, the umpire should still apply the rules on warnings and suspensions if a beamer is delivered.

Bodyline Bowling in Cricket

Using beamers as a strategy has been likened to the bodyline series of 1932/33 between England and Australia. England’s captain Douglas Jardine instructed his pace bowlers to bowl short, at the body of the batsmen, from around the wicket.

A change in the laws prevented bodyline from happening as teams are no longer allowed to have more than two fielders behind square on the leg side. Using beamers as a tactic has been likened to bodyline as both feature intimidatory bowling.