How Many Bouncers are Allowed in an Over? – Laws on Bouncers in Different Forms

Bouncers can be an effective weapon for pace bowlers but there are laws in place to restrict their use. Let’s answer the question relating to the number of bouncers that can be used in an over.

How Many Bouncers Are Allowed in An Over?

Laws relating to bouncers differ depending on the form of the game. In test matches and other forms of first class cricket, two bouncers are allowed.

In ODI cricket, two bouncers are allowed in each over. In T20 matches, only one bouncer is permissible in an over.

Differences in Laws on Bouncers Between Different Forms


In test matches and in all first class cricket matches, two bouncers per over are allowed. This is the longest form of the game and it’s acceptable for a bowler to use more short pitched deliveries without straying into the realms of intimidation.


One Day International cricket has seen the highest number of changes in relation to bouncers. When the law was initially brought in, in 1994, only once bouncer per over was allowed.

There was, however, a change to that particular law in 2012 and, since that point, up to two bouncers per over are permitted in ODI cricket.


Bouncers can be seen as a negative tactic. The batter’s first instinct is to protect themselves, rather than score runs from the delivery.

T20 cricket is the shortest form of the game and there needs to be a good balance between bat and ball. That’s why only one bouncer is allowed in a T20 over.

Bouncer No Ball Rule in Cricket

When related to bouncers, no balls can be called in two different sets of circumstances. Under law 21.10, a no ball shall be called if a bouncer passes over the head height of a batter. The measurement is an assumed one, based on that batter standing up in the popping crease.

That’s a law for one-off bouncers but no balls can also be called when the laws on restriction of bouncers are broken.

Rules When the Maximum Number of Bouncers is Exceeded

No balls will also be called when a bowler has exceeded the legal number of deliveries allowed in an over.

In test match cricket and other first class games, a no ball would therefore be called on the third bouncer. There is no free hit law in test matches at present so there would simply be an extra run added to the batting team’s total, and the bowler would have to bowl that delivery again.

In ODI cricket, a no ball would also be called if the bowler sends down a third bouncer in the over. In this instance, two runs are added to the batting team’s total. The ball will need to be delivered again and this time the batter has a free hit.

A free hit means that the batter cannot be given out by most of the dismissal methods including Bowled, Caught and LBW. The exceptions are Run Out and Obstructing the Field.

In T20 cricket, the rules are similar to that of ODIs. The only difference lies in the number of bouncers that are allowed. In this form of the game, a second bouncer in the same over will lead to the umpire calling a no ball.

Once again, two runs are added to the batting team’s score. An extra ball must be bowled and the follow up delivery will be a free hit.


A bouncer can certainly be an effective weapon in any form of cricket, but nobody wants to see it overused. In test matches, we’ve probably all watched passages of play where the bowlers are sending down many short pitched deliveries and the batters are simply getting out of the way.

Overuse of the bouncer can lead to boring cricket but there is also the question of intimidation. For the sake of the batter’s safety, bouncers should be kept to a sensible level and that’s the main reason why these laws have been introduced.

It’s all about common sense and striking a balance. There is a danger with bouncers and there have been serious injuries and deaths on the cricket field and that’s something that nobody wants to see.