I was recently asked about a player who has to leave the field when their side is fielding as to when can he bat if he does not retake the field before the innings is finished.

It all depends on the type of injury that caused him to leave the field. If it was an external blow, for example an injury caused by impact, whether by the ball, another person or even the ground during the match he does not have to serve any penalty time and can bat straight away. However, if the reason for leaving the field is for any other reason like illness, pulled muscle, cramp, then he has to wait until the time he was off has been served and then can bat at the fall of wicket or when his side has lost its fifth wicket whichever is sooner.

Remember umpires are not usually medically qualified and have to make a decision about what injuries are justifiable based on the best of their knowledge.

This ruling was be brought in to stop opening batters leaving the field during the opposition’s innings so that they can have a rest before opening their own innings.

It is the same when a player arrives late. If his side is fielding he can take the field as soon as he is ready providing, he informs the umpire he is taking the field. If he does not let the umpire know he is on the field and touches the ball, then he gives five penalty runs away and the ball becomes dead. He does not have to wait until the end of the over to come on, either, it is what is convenient to both umpire and player. There used to be a 15-minute leeway before time absent kicked in but that is no longer the case

If a batter is injured in the first innings and has to leave the field and does not return until an hour later then any penalty has no effect on allowing him to bowl (if fit), if he returns to the field with his side at the start of his side’s innings.

There are plenty of things for an umpire to consider and the importance of recording the time when a player leaves the field is key.