How Many No Balls Are Allowed In An Over?

Bowling no balls is one of the biggest sins a bowler can commit. Not only does it give a free run to the batting side, it also gives them an extra delivery to face – which can be a nightmare if the game you’re playing in is a tightly contested limited overs match! Now and then, some bowlers will let the pressure get to them, and will end up bowling multiple no balls in one over. When this happens, it leads a lot of new spectators to wonder just how many no balls are allowed to be bowled in an over – and if you want to know the answer to this question, you’re in the right place!

In this post I’ll tell you what the rules are regarding the number of no balls in an over, and I’ll briefly list all of the different types of no ball that exist in the game of cricket so you know what bowlers have to avoid. After that, I’ll drop some more info that you may be interested in. Let’s get into it!

So, how many no balls are allowed in an over?

There is no limit on the number of no balls that a bowler can bowl in one over. An over is made up of 6 legal deliveries, but every time a no ball is bowled, the batting side get an extra delivery. So, in theory, if a bowler kept bowling no balls, you could have an extremely long over!

For example, if a bowler bowled 50 no balls in one over, the over would be 56 deliveries long. 50 illegal deliveries, and 6 legal ones. Although the scenario I’ve described above with 50 no balls in one over is extremely unlikely, it is theoretically possible in cricket seeing as there is no limit on the number of no balls that can be delivered in a single over. A much more likely scenario is that a bowler bowls 1 or 2 no balls in an over, which would extend the length of that over by 1 or 2 deliveries!

What Are The Different Types of No Ball That Can Be Bowled?

Considering how many different ways no balls can be bowled, it may be easier to fit a few into a single over than you think! If you want to know all of the different things are that could lead to the umpire calling a no ball, check this list below:

  1. Incorrect declaration of delivery
  2. Throwing the ball (both before and during the delivery stride)
  3. Bowling underarm
  4. Overstepping the popping or return crease 
  5. Breaking the wicket whilst delivering the ball 
  6. Causing ball to bounce multiple times, or pitching it off the pitch
  7. Ball coming to a stop before it reaches the batsman  
  8. Fielder intercepting a delivery
  9. The ball bouncing over head height
  10. Bowling a full toss over waist height
  11. Bowling that is deemed dangerous
  12. Wicket Keeper in the wrong position
  13. Exceeding the number of fielders allowed on the leg side/behind square on leg side
  14. Fielders encroaching on to the pitch

If you’d like to read more details about each type of no ball, I’ve written an incredibly detailed post that covers all of them. You can read that by clicking here! Once you’ve read that post you’ll know all about the things you need to avoid in order to stop yourself bowling multiple no balls in an over.

Who Has Bowled The Most No Balls In One Over?

Ok, so now we’ve discussed what the possibilities are for the number of no balls in an over, we should probably look at the actual record for the most that have been delivered!

The record for the highest number of no balls bowled in one over is held by Bert Vance, who bowled an astonishing 17 no balls in one over! The over is also the most expensive over in first-class cricket history – costing Wellington 77 runs in total!

Bert Vance was a cricketer born in New Zealand who played from the 1970’s to the early 1990’s. Vance represented the New Zealand national team a handful of times, but he was a stalwart of New Zealand domestic cricket, representing Wellington for many years. Although Vance was a batsman by trade, his bowling is famous because of one single over that he bowled in 1990 in a game between Wellington and Canterbury!

With Vance’s team (Wellington) needing to win the game, and the Canterbury batsmen trying to block their way to a draw, Wellington decided that Vance should come on to bowl and serve up plenty of no balls. The thinking was that if they gifted Canterbury plenty of runs by bowling no balls, Canterbury would have a chance to win, and would put their last two wickets at risk as they tried to seal the win. In reality, it didn’t quite work out like that and the game ended as a draw!

If you’d like to read more about the game and what happened afterwards, click here to read a full breakdown of it!


No balls are something that bowlers should always try to avoid, but if you’re having a particularly bad day at the office, you can rest easy knowing that there isn’t a maximum number of no balls allowed per over! Just try to make sure you don’t bowl more than a couple – especially in a tight game. Your team mates may not be big fans of you if you give the game away by bowling illegal deliveries!

The most common types of no ball are ones caused by the bowler overstepping the popping crease. If this is something that happens to you regularly, you may want to consider refining your run up so that you can get your front foot behind the line more consistently. I’ve written a useful post which will give you lots of tips on how to develop the perfect run up for you – and if you’re interested you can read that by clicking here!

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