What Is the Difference Between a Tie and a Draw in Cricket?

Cricket player

Cricket is a popular sport that is played by millions around the world. As well as having a complex set of rules and traditions it is also perhaps the only sport in the world that can be played for five days without a winner being declared. Such situations can be either a tie or a draw, but the distinction is not understood by many.


For a cricket match to end in a tie, it is highly unusual and has only ever happened twice in the history of Test cricket. It first happen when the West Indies played Australia in 1960 and then again when Australia played India in 1986.

A tie is when at the conclusion of play, both teams have completed their innings and their scores are equal. It can be illustrated by looking at the scores of the West Indies v Australia two matches mentioned above.

West Indies

  • First innings score: 454
  • Second innings score: 284
  • Total: 737


  • First innings score: 505
  • Second innings score: 232
  • Total: 737

In other forms of the sport, other than Test cricket (like the one-day competition, Twenty20), then ties can also occur but a tiebreaker is used to declare a winner. This can be a bowl-out, a super-over or other form of method for deciding a result.


In cricket, Law 21 defines a draw as the following:“A match which is concluded as defined Law 16.9 (Conclusion of match), without being determined in any of the ways stated in (a) above or in 1, 2, or 3, above, shall count as a Draw.”

What this means is that a draw occurs when a team does not complete its innings by the official end of play. That means in Test cricket, in which the number of overs is not limited, a team batting last can ‘play for a draw’ when they have no hope of beating their opponent’s score.

They do this by ensuring they are not bowled out by the scheduled end of play. Regardless of how many runs they have scored, the match in this situation is classified as a draw and is a reasonably common occurrence in cricket.

Other Unusual Ways a Cricket Match Can End

There are some other unusual ways in which a cricket match can end, including awarding, conceding, and abandoning the game. These are all pretty unlikely but are worth considering.


Very rare, but the umpires in cricket have the authority to award a match to one side, declaring them a winner. This can occur when a side stops playing in the match, in which case the umpires have deemed that team to have forfeited the game.


This is an extremely unusual way to end a match and occurs when a scoreboard displays an incorrect score (in good faith), which is, in turn, accepted by the ‘losing team’ as a winning score. In this highly unusual situation, the ‘losing’ team is not classed as being defeated, but as having conceded the match to their opponents.


Thanks to the weather, it is sometimes not possible for a game of cricket to even begin. In such situations, a match is 'abandoned' and is not included in any statistical records.