Whenever the pub quiz question comes up that asks players to name all of the modes of dismissal in cricket, the majority come with ease.
Bowled, caught, LBW, run out….even slightly more obscure wickets like handled ball and obstructing the field come after some thought.
But timed out? That is generally a new one to many casual fans of the sport, and usually reserved for quaint British village games after a batsman has overindulged in sandwiches and cakes at tea.
However, timed out has made its way to the international scene and arguably the pinnacle of them all – the World Cup – after Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews found himself on the wrong end of a rather embarrassing dismissal against Bangladesh.
He became the first player in 146 years of international cricket to be timed out after taking too long to get to the crease – in the opinion of the Bangladeshis, at least – after the strap on his helmet broke and forced him to call for a new one.
Bangladesh’s captain, Shakib Al Hasan, appealed for Mathews to be timed out….leaving the umpires with no choice but to uphold cricket’s often arcane rules.
So how had Mathews broken the cricketing law?
What is the Timed Out Rule in Cricket?
The Laws of Cricket, established well over a century ago, decree that an incoming batter has a time limit in which he or she must get to the crease by.
Rule 40.1.1 states that a batter must be ‘ready to receive the ball’ within three minutes of the preceding batter being dismissed – this window is reduced to two minutes for some tournaments overseen by the International Cricket Council (ICC), such as the World Cup.
TV coverage of the game between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh confirms that Mathews was at the crease within the two minute window, however he wasn’t ‘ready to receive’ his first delivery within that timeframe after breaking the strap on his helmet and calling for a replacement.
I rest my case! Here you go you decide 😷😷 pic.twitter.com/AUT0FGffqV
— Angelo Mathews (@Angelo69Mathews) November 7, 2023
The rather unsavoury scene could have been overcome had Shakib decided to withdraw his appeal, with the umpires had quizzed him about doing. However, the Bangladesh skipper stood firm, and so Matthews had to beat a hasty retreat back to the dressing room – the first player ever to be timed out in international cricket history.
In the post-match press conference, Shakib commented:
“I appealed and the umpire asked me if I was serious, whether I would take it back or not. I said no. If it is in the rules then it is out and that is exactly what happened.
“I don’t know if it is right or wrong. But I feel like I was at a war, so I had to take a decision to make sure my team wins so whatever I needed to do I had to do it. He [Mathews] came and asked me if I would withdraw the appeal. I said I understand your situation, it was unfortunate but I don’t want to.”
A batter is not forced, by the laws of the game, to wear a helmet, and so Mathews could have simply taken guard against Shakib, who is a spinner anyway, without one.
However, he chose not to do so, and his place in cricket’s often bizarre annals of history is confirmed.
How Many Batsmen Have Been Timed Out?
Prior to Mathews’ dismissal, there had only been six instances of timed out in elite – namely first-class or professional – cricket.
List of Timed-Out Cricketers
|November 2023||Angelo Matthews||Sri Lanka||Bangladesh|
|December 2017||Charles Junje||Matabeleland Tuskers||Mountaineers|
|April 2014||Ryan Austin||Combined College Team||Windward Islands|
|April 2003||A J Harris||Nottinghamshire||Durham University|
|September 2002||Vasbert Drakes||Border||Free State|
|December 1997||Hemulal Yadav||Tipura||Orissa|
|February 1988||Andrew Jordaan||Eastern Province||Transvaal|
And, in the grand scheme of things, the Sri Lankan’s walk of shame was far less baffling than some that have come before.
Two players have been timed out after they have found themselves nowhere near the ground at the moment they were supposed to be walking out to bat. Andrew Jordaan was timed out of a South African club game between Eastern Province and Transvaal after localised flooding meant that he couldn’t resume his innings the next morning.
At least he was in the approximate postcode of the stadium – Vasbert Drakes missed his innings entirely during a contest between Border and Free State when his flight to South Africa was delayed.
For others, like Ryan Austin and Charles Kunje, no formal explanation has been given as to why they were timed out, but for Andrew Harris and Hemulal Yadav, well, this is the time to look away now.
Harris had suffered a groin strain while turning out for Nottinghamshire against Durham University, but was deemed okay to bat and at least prolong the Notts innings for as long as possible so that Chris Read could complete his century.
Unfortunately, as he was sat down watching his teammates take their turn in bat, he had stiffened up to the point that he simply could not get changed out of his tracksuit and walk out to the crease quickly enough within the three minutes allowed. Therefore, he was timed out.
As for Hemulal, his place in the ledger of iconic sporting mishaps is secure. He was timed out of the innings by the umpires in a game between Tripura and Orissa after he became so embroiled in a nice chat with his team’s coach, not noticing that when a wicket fell it was his turn to bat.
This was 1997, meaning that Yadav became the first player in first-class cricket history to be timed out.