A danger zone in cricket refers to a part of the cricket pitch which is also called the protected area. This is an area of the pitch where the ball bounces evenly throughout the course of the match. The danger zone is two feet in width and is located five feet away from either popping crease.
The protected area is called so because it needs to be kept undisturbed from the running or walking movements of the players. It is called a danger zone because the movement of the players can cause the pitch to roughen up in selected areas that gives the bowling side an unfair advantage.
When bowlers bowl, their natural follow-through is away from the middle stump in order to respect the protected area. However, if bowlers fail to land their feet away from the danger zone, it leads to scuffing of the pitch due to the bowlers’ footmarks.
Unfair play involving the danger zone consists of bowlers making a portion of the danger zone rough which is utilised by the spinners for taking wickets. Batters may also run in that zone intentionally to provide the bowlers of their side with an opportunity to bowl in the rough zones. However, such practices are rarely seen because of the on-field umpires.
The umpires can send our a maximum of two warning signs to the player (batter or bowler) should they be exploiting the danger zone. On the third warning, the player takes the bowler out of the attack and suspends them for the innings. Batters on the other hand can be deemed out immediately.
The danger zone hence ensures that fairness in maintained between both competing sides.