What is a dot ball in the sport of cricket?

Cricket has grown in stature in terms of popularity and tradition by means of broadcast and media. In the late 1970s, color television was the first event to puff a wave of excitement in cricket viewing. A few years later, electronic scoreboards were introduced which further attracted viewers and spectators.

Conventionally the score of cricket was written and monitored by a scorekeeper and an umpire who were given sheets depicting the cricket scoreboard. These sheets are used even today in local clubs and regional tournaments. Against the columns of the batter and the bowler, the scorekeeper keeps a tally of each event that takes place on every single delivery of the match. For example, a ‘4’ represents the ball crossing the boundary after pitching once or more within the boundary lines. A wicket is denoted by ‘W’, a single run by ‘1’, and so on.

When no runs are scored off a legal delivery and neither is any wicket taken, then the scorekeepers simply put a dot in the scoresheet. This event is called a dot ball. A dot ball is a common feature in test cricket, where both teams bats twice alternatively across five days. The scoring rate is slow and hence the number of dot balls are not a significant feature.

In contrast, dot balls are decisive factors in limited overs games like T20s and One Day Internationals (ODIs). These formats, especially T20s, have a much higher scoring rate and batters avoid accumulating dot balls. Bowlers on the other hand try to enhance their skills by aiming for a wicket or dot ball in these formats of the game. When a bowler balls all six balls of an over as dot balls, then it is called a maiden over.

Teams often end up losing because of more dot balls registered in their innings. Hence, dot balls are a bane for the batters and a boon for the bowler.

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