Reasons for No LBW despite hitting the stumps? How Umpire’s Call Work?

The Decision Review System (DRS) in cricket has posed a challenge to the on-field umpire’s judgements, which includes LBW (Leg Before Wicket) dismissal. Especially, if a batter is given out or not out for an LBW dismissal and the decision is challenged by any player, the ball tracking technology comes into action to determine if the ball would have hit the stumps or not.

In this guide, you will familiarize yourself with what is an umpire’s call in cricket and the controversies related to it. Most importantly, you need to be aware of the concepts of pitching, impact and wicket zones that help you to understand why a batsman is adjudged not out despite the ball’s trajectory hitting the stumps.

What is an Umpire’s Call in Cricket?

Typically, an umpire’s call is a situation where the on-field umpire’s original decision is accepted even after the decision is reviewed using the DRS. In other words, it is a term used when the third umpire cannot decide any of these three aspects such as the ball’s pitching, impact of the ball and whether the ball hit the wickets. In such situations, the third umpire agrees with the on-field umpire’s decision.

A batter can request a review by making a T-signal with their hands or hand and bat if the on-field umpire has given them out. Similarly, the decision can be challenged by the fielding team if a batter was given not out.

You will certainly understand the concept of an umpire’s call by carefully observing these three factors:

1. Pitching Zone:

A pitching zone is a 2-dimensional area or a rectangular space that covers the entire length of a cricket pitch and the outer edge of the stumps at both edges acts as its top limit. In such cases, the umpire’s call isn’t relevant as the ball-tracking technology gathers the required data to determine where the ball has pitched on the ground.

At times, the umpire’s decision can be overturned if more than half of the ball has landed on the leg side.

2. Impact Zone:

The impact zone displays the position where the ball first touched the batsman’s pads rather than the bat. It refers to the 3-dimensional space between the two sets of stumps, from ground level to incalculable height. The outer boundaries are marked through the edge of the leg and off-stump.

3. Wickets Hitting Zone:

A wicket zone is a flat 2-dimensional area with stumps from the basement to the top of the bails. The space is stretched by covering the entire width from the outer edge of the leg and off-stumps.

Why is a batsman given not out despite the ball’s trajectory hitting the stumps? The Role of Umpire’s Call

Since the technology involved isn’t 100% accurate, there is a possibility of a 5% error in predicting the trajectory of a ball. In such situations, the umpire’s call plays a crucial role in determining a batsman as not out, especially considering the ball’s impact. 

Also, an umpire’s call becomes effective only if the ball’s impact hitting a batter’s pad is far from the stumps. In such circumstances, the on-field umpire’s decision stands if the initial contact of the ball with the batsman’s pad is 300 cm (centimetres) or more away from the stumps.

However, if the ball is considered to be pitched in line with the stumps and coincides with the impact, the decision will differ based on the expected trajectory of the ball as it approaches the stumps.  

Moreover, the DRS projection should show more than 50% of the ball hitting the stumps to overturn the on-field umpire’s original decision. Finally, the umpire’s decision will be retained if the ball tracking indicates less than 50% of the ball to be in line or hitting the stumps in the impact and wicket zone.

Why are the Controversies increasing regarding the Umpire’s call?

The umpire’s call in cricket has sparked several controversies due to its complex outcome on the decision-making regarding LBWs.

A majority of cricket experts and current players believe that even if a fraction of the ball is projected to be hitting the stumps the on-field umpire should declare the batter as OUT; thereby adding fuel to the existing discussions.

Several critics argue that resolving the marginal calls effectively is important; as the consistency of the players is being compromised as well as affecting the team’s fortunes.


The DRS system was established in 2009, but it was in 2016 when the ICC introduced the umpire’s call to make DRS more appealing to players.

Mainly, the visuals that we see on the screen with the naked eye represent the ball’s trajectory after pitching, influenced by several factors such as the bounce and turn; seam and swing, and the line hitting the stumps.

Several elements are involved while determining the projection to accurately estimate the trajectory of the ball after impact.

For instance, if an umpire declares a batter as out every time the projection is shown to be hitting the stumps, it would result in more LBW dismissals. As a result, it would twist the fortunes of a batter, thereby providing more advantage to the bowlers.

Ultimately, the umpire’s call system has worked successfully so far and promises to ensure smooth and fair gameplay policies.