One of the more complex laws in relation to cricket refers to the danger area. It’s also referred to as the protected area and, sometimes, the rough. It’s not dangerous in a physical sense but it could have severe issues for bowlers, batsmen and fielders if they fall foul of the regulations.
What is the Protected Area in Cricket?
The protected area, also known as the danger area or the rough, is a rectangular section of the pitch which players must avoid. It begins at a point from five feet at the end of each popping crease and it measures two feet wide.
It’s called a protected area because players must not run on it during the game.
The Danger Area
During the course of a game, a bowler’s follow through will create rough. This is a natural element of cricket and, towards the end of a match, that rough can aid the spin bowlers. Rough will naturally occur outside of off or leg stump but, if it is too central, then the bowlers are considered to have an unfair advantage.
Bowlers could intentionally create rough by following through too close to the middle stump and that’s why the protected area is in place. Towards the end of an innings, batsmen could also transgress on the danger area to give their bowlers an unfair advantage later on.
Penalties for Transgressions
The danger area is not marked so it is down to the umpires to decide whether the players are infringing on the protected zone and there are potential penalties in place. If a bowler enters the danger area on their follow through, they will receive an initial warning. If the same bowler does this on a second occasion, they are given a second and final warning.
A third infringement of the protected area will see that bowler removed from the attack and they will not be allowed to bowl for the rest of the innings.
If the batting side fall foul of the law, they can see penalty runs awarded against them. When fielders break this rule, individual sanctions can be applied by the authorities.
There have been many examples of rule breaking and subsequent punishment. As a fielder, Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi was banned for three international games in 2005 for scuffing the danger area with his boots.
In 2020, Australian batsman Marnus Labuschagne infringed on this rule and his team were given a five-run penalty. Lots of bowlers have been taken out of the attack. England’s James Anderson often runs close to the area and he was given a third warning against South Africa in 2016.
Unfair Play in Cricket
The protected area relates to a law of cricket pertaining to unfair play. There are lots of other rulings that apply to the game and they are in place to stop teams gaining an unfair advantage over their opponents.