Wide ball in Test matches: The wide ball is one of the most common ways of gaining extra runs in the sport of cricket.
The most simple way to define a “Wide Ball” in cricket is any delivery bowled outside the reach of the batsman. The batsman’s reach, in this case, can be both height-wise or width-wise.
In limited-overs cricket (ODIs and T20Is), a batting team gets an extra run and an extra delivery for every wide ball bowled by the bowler. In addition to wides being outside the off-stump or down the leg-side, a bowler also errs when he bowls a delivery above the batsman’s head (outside his reach).
“A delivery is a wide if it is not sufficiently within reach for the batter to be able to hit it with the bat by means of a normal cricket stroke from where the batter is standing, and also would not have been sufficiently within reach for the batter to be able to hit it with the bat by means of a normal cricket stroke if the batter were standing in a normal guard position,” read MCC’s Law 22 regarding wide balls in cricket.
Is there no wide ball in Test cricket?
A common sight witnessed by fans in Test cricket is umpires not giving wide balls. It is worth mentioning that the same doesn’t mean that there are no wide balls in Test cricket. It’s just that umpire are way too lenient in this format with respect to wide deliveries.
Be it on the off-side or leg-side, umpires don’t rule a delivery as a “wide” until and unless the ball’s trajectory moves outside the pitch. It is due to the same reason that there is no “inner wide” line on the pitch in Test cricket as compared to white-ball cricket.
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A primary reason behind umpires’ leniency in red-ball cricket is that bowlers can’t get away after bowling wide deliveries desperately. Since there is no cap on the number of balls in an innings, a bowling team usually looks to bundle out the opposition to stage a victory. Hence, a bowler bowling wide balls on a regular basis will do more harm than good to him and his team.
On the other hand, even one desperate wide ball in a white-ball match has it in to decide the result of the match in modern-day cricket. Because a bowling team has to bowl only a certain number of balls in an innings, bowlers can get away by bowling wide deliveries as the same make it difficult for batsmen to score runs. Hence, more discipline and strictness is needed to put a curb on bowlers.