Cricket is currently one of the most popular games in the sports industry. The continuous evolvement of the game has helped the Gentleman’s game to spread its wings further in the developing nations. Apart from the limited number of overs, the set of rules and regulations as specified in the Laws of Cricket add the charismatic appeal to the game. The Laws of Cricket is a set of code that specifies all the rules, changed and added, of the game of cricket worldwide.
The earliest code of cricket (Laws of Cricket) was known to be drafted in 1744 which was then owned and maintained by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in London in 1788. And ever since then, MCC has been the custodian of it. This book of code embodies 42 current Laws of Cricket, outlining all the aspects of how to play the game.
The Laws of Cricket have been re-coded six times by the custodian, MCC, with the seventh and the lastest code being released in October in 2017. The second edition of the 2017 code was effective by 1 April 2019. In the meantime, the prior six codes of the Laws of Cricket were all subject to interim revisions before the 2017 Code, ultimately existing in more than one version in the book.
MCC is the private club that was the former governing body of cricket, a role which is now played by the International Cricket Council (ICC). However, MCC retains the copyright in the Laws of Cricket, and only the MCC may alone alternate or modify the Laws of Cricket, after consulting with the ICC and other interested parties.
Cricket is among the few sports which specify the governing principles of the game (or the playing conditions) as the “Laws” instead of “rules” or “regulations”. But, in certain cases, the regulations to supplement or/and vary the Laws of Cricket, may be agreed for particular competitions (international matches) as per requirement.
History of the Laws of Cricket
The Old Tradition in Laws of Cricket
The origin of cricket is uncertain but, it was first recorded at the Guildford during the 16th century. Back then, it was believed to have been played by the boys, henceforth, regarded as the boys’ game of that time. However, from the early 17th century, the adults started taking interest in the game.
During that period of the game, the rules that existed were agreed orally and subjected to the local variations. Later, in the 17th century, it became a popular betting game with spiked up bids with the recorded instances of the teams being sued for the non-payment of the lost bids.
Articles of Agreement in Laws of Cricket
The earliest record for a professional game was recorded in July and August in 1727. Two matches were organized by the stakeholders – Alan Brodrick, 2nd Viscount Midleton, and Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond.
There are references to these games that provide the information about the two stakeholders drawing up the Articles of Agreement between them to determine the playing conditions of the contests. The original handwritten documents drawn up by Richmond and Brodrick are preserved.
It was the first time that the Laws of Cricket were formally agreed to resolve any problems between the two teams during the games. Even then, the concept of these rules was the same, to attain greater importance in terms of defining the rules of the game. Later these, rules were codified as the Laws of Cricket.
Most of the 16 points listed in the Articles are easily recognized despite their wording as belonging to the modern Laws of Cricket. For instance, (1) a Ball caught, the Striker is out; or (2) when a ball is caught out, the Stroke counts nothing; and (3) catching out behind the wicket is allowed.
However, the points that differ from the modern Laws of Cricket are: (1) the wickets shall be pitched at twenty-three yards distance from each other; (2) that twelve players shall play on each side; (3) the batsmen for every run they count are to touch the Umpire’s Stick; (4) no player shall be deemed out by any wicket put down, unless with the ball in hand.
In modern Laws of Cricket, these specific rules are modified: (1) the pitch is 22 yards long; (2) each team has 11 players; (3) runs were only completed if the batsman touched the umpire’s stick (or bat) which was later replaced by the batsman having to touch the ground behind the popping crease; (4) runouts no longer require the ball to be in hand.
1744 Code: The First Law in the Laws of Cricket
The earliest known code of Laws of Cricket was sanctioned in 1744, however, it was not printed then. According to the source, the first code of Laws of Cricket was not printed until 1755. For all one can say, they were possibly an upgrade of the earlier code which were printed to establish a universal codification.
The Laws of Cricket listed in the code were drawn up by the “noblemen and gentlemen members of the London Cricket Club” based at the Artillery Ground. The printed version of the code in 1755 also states that “several cricket clubs” met at the Star and Garter in Pall Mall who were involved in the printing of the earliest code of Laws.
Here are the summarized pointers of the main points listed in the 1744 code:
- The reference to the toss of a coin and the pitch dimensions (in yards);
- The stumps must be 22 inches (560 mm) high with a six-inch (152 mm) bail;
- The weight of the ball is specified to vary between five and six ounces;
- Overs last four balls;
- The no-ball penalty specified as the penalty for overstepping, meaning the hindfoot of the bowler going in front of the bowling crease (i.e., in direct line of the wicket);
- The popping crease is exactly 3ft 10 inches before the bowling crease;
- Various ways of declaring a player out are included;
- After the experiences in the 17th century, hitting the ball twice and obstructing the field are declared as forcibly out.
- The wicket-keeper is required to stay still and quiet until the ball is bowled;
- Umpires must give 2 mins time for the new batsman to arrive and 10 mins between the innings (meal and rain breaks presumably excepted);
- Umpire is not to give out if there is no appeal from the fielders;
- The umpire’s judgment is the last decision. It is made clear that an Umpire is the “sole judge” on the field and that “his determination shall be absolute”
According to the 1744 Laws of Cricket, there is no compulsion for the bowler to roll or skim the ball. Meanwhile, there is also no prescribed arm action mentioned in the earliest code. So, theoretically, a pitched delivery can also be regarded as legal even after being potentially controversial.
In the early 1760s, the Hambledon Club was rising to prominence while the underarm pitching was also believed to have begun. This resulted in the introduction of the modern straight bat in place of the old “hockey stick” bat which was not meant for addressing a ball on the bounce.
There was an incident that took place in 1771 between Chertsey and Hambledon at LalehamBurway that led to the creation of a new Law which remains extant. The Chertsey all-rounder, ThomasWhite used a bat with the width of that of the wicket. At that moment, there was no rule to prevent this action and so, all the Hambledon players registered a formal protest which was signed by the three leading Hambledon players – Thomas Brett, Richard Nyren, and John Small.
However, after this incident, the lawmakers of the game specified the width of the bat to be four and one-quarter inches. This was included in the next revision of the Laws of Cricket and to date, it remains the maximum width of the bat.
1774 Code: A revision of the Laws of Cricket
The Laws of Cricket were revised on 25 February 1774, Friday, in a committee meeting at the Star and Garter. The committee was chaired by Sir William Draper which included the prominent cricket patrons – the 3rd Duke of Dorset, the 4th Early of Tankerville, Charles Powlett, Philip Dehany, and Sir Horatio Mann. Meanwhile, the clubs and the counties involved in the committee were – Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Middlesex, and London.
Here is the summary of the main points discussed in the 1774 Code:
- The width of the bat is limited to 4 inches and one quarter;
- The bowler must deliver the ball with one foot behind the bowling-crease and within the return-crease; Also that the bowler should bowl four balls before he changest the wicket, which he shall do but only once in the same innings;
- The batsman at the strike is declared out if he puts his leg before the wicket with the idea to stop the ball, and in doing so, prevents the ball from hitting his wicket.
The last point highlighted the introduction of the Leg Before Wicket (lbw) as a means of dismissal. With the rising popularity of the game, there was an increasing practice of stopping the ball with the leg, giving air to the negative response to the pitched delivery. Meanwhile, the incident of 1771 was the result of the addition of the maximum width of the bat.
As in 1744, the new 1774 Code asserted that “the stumps must be twenty-two inches, the bail six inches long”. During those days, there were only two stumps with a single bail put over them.
At the Artillery Ground on 22 & 23 May 1775, a worthwhile single-wicket match was played between Five of Kent (with Lumpy Stevens) and Five of Hambledon (with Thomas White). Batting first, Kent scored 37 which in return, Hambledon replied with 92 which included 75 by John Small.
In their second innings, Kent scored 102 that left Hambledon with the target of 48 runs to win. With 14 runs more to win, Small went in to bat as the last of the Hambledon Five. He scored the runs and his team won the match by 1 wicket but this innings followed a great controversy.
In the course of the second innings, Small was beaten by Lumpy thrice with the ball to pass through the two-stump wicket each time, without hitting the stumps or the bail. This controversy resulted in the addition of the middle stump which took a few years before its use became universal.
The Third Law: 1788 Code
The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) was founded in 1787 and immediately presumed the responsibility for the Laws of Cricket, issuing a new version on 30 May 1788 which was then called as “The Laws of the Noble Game of Cricket as revised by the club at St. Mary-le-bone”. The third Law stated: “The stumps must be twenty-two inches out of the ground, the bail six inches in length”. However, the requirement of the third stump was still unspecified as its use was still not universal.
The third Code is, however, much more descriptive than the 1774 Code but, essentially, they are all the same. The only main difference was in the description of the LBW law. In the 1774 Law, the batsman was declared out if, with design, he prevents the ball from hitting the wicket with his leg. In the 1788 Code, the “with design” clause was omitted and replaced with the ball to have pitched straight.
It also included the protection of the pitch, stating that with the mutual consent between the two teams the pitch could be rolled, watered, covered, and mown during a match. Meanwhile, the use of sawdust was also authorized in the 1788 code. Whereas, previously, pitches were left untouched during the match.
The other MCC Codes
After coming in to form in 1778, the MCC has periodically revised the Laws of Cricket, usually within the same code, but from time to time they have published an entirely new code to the Law. Here is the list of the new codes added in later years:
- 19 May 1835 (1835 code)
- 21 April 1884 (1884 code)
- 7 May 1947 (1947 code)
- 21 November 1979 (1980 code)
- 3 May 2000 (2000 code)
- 1 October 2017 (2017 code) – this one included the gender-neutral language, except the word “batsman” being retained, and a code of conduct.
The Significant Changes to the Laws after 1788
As discussed earlier, the number of altercations and important changes introduced to the Law over the years have resulted in more than one version of the code. These changes to the Laws of Cricket may not coincide with the publication of the old one but merely a change of the language used to revise these editions of the current code.
Here are the significant changes made to the Laws of Cricket ever since the 1788 Code:
- The space between the popping and the bowling creases, as specified in 1744, was 46 inches which were, then, increased to 48 inches in 1819.
- The specified bowling crease was increased from three feet to four feet (i.e., eight feet inches in total) on each side of the wicket in 1902. Meanwhile, the width of the wicket was increased from eight to nine inches in 1939, after which the length of the bowling crease was by default reduced by half an inch on each side.
- Earlier the creases were originally cut into the turf instead of white-marking (or white-wash) the area which wasn’t introduced until the second half of the 19th century when Alfred Shaw suggested the same.
- The Pitch protection was authorized in the 1788 Code after which several changes were made to it from time to time, including the length of time permitted for rolling, or covering of the bowler’s footholds, etc.
- Until 1931, the dimensions of the wicket had changed several times. The 1931 changes included 28 inches by nine inches dimension which was later confirmed in 1947 and is followed to date. Whereas, by the end of the 17th century, the two-stump wicket was believed to have been 22 inches by 6 inches in dimension.
- Following the controversial incident in 1771, the width of the bat has been unchanged at four and a quarter while in 1835, the length of the bat was specified as 38 inches which remains unaltered till now.
- The circumference of the ball was ruled as between 9 and 9.25 inches in 1838 which was reduced to 8 13/16 to 9 inches in 1927. The weight of the ball, however, is unchanged to 5.5-5.75 ounces since 1774.
- Until 1889, the Law for four balls in an over remained unchanged. A five-ball over was introduced in 1889 which was then increased to six balls in 1900. Meanwhile, the number of balls per over has varied in the other playing nations in comparison to England. But, from 1979, the six-ball over has been made a worldwide Law.
- Earlier the no-ball was ruled for just overstepping the bowling crease only. However, during 1816, the roundarm was coming into use, and for the first time legislation against “throwing” was first attempted. Then, the ball was called a no-ball if the bowler’s hand on delivery must not be above the elbow. In severy matches, this rule was disregarded by the bowlers which was then, followed by the roundarm trial matches held in 1827. There was no Law for the bowling action until 1835 when it was decreed that the bowler’s hand on delivery must not be above his shoulder. In 1864, the authorization of the overarm bowling came into action, and by 1899 the rule for calling a no-ball by either of the umpires was introduced.
- In the early days of the game, Test cricket was the only format that was played. In that time, the ‘declarations’ were not authorized till 1889, after which “only on the third day” the team could declare the innings. In 1900, it was allowed after lunch on the second day and then, it was altered to any time on the second day of the match in 1910. It was in 1957 when ‘on the first-day’ declaration was authorized.
- The follow-on in the game was not discovered in the 18th century and the Laws of Cricket did not address it until 1835. Then, the follow-on rule became compulsory after a deficit of 100 runs. Few more changes occurred to the ‘deficit’ in the 19th century until, in 1900, the follow-on became optional after a deficit of 150 runs. This remains the same for the first-class matches other than Tests, where the deficit is 200.
- Among all the changes made in the Law, LBW has been the most troublesome from the scratch of the game. According to Gerald Brodribb, a cricket historian and archaeologist, “No dismissal has produced so much argument as lbw; it has caused trouble from its earliest days”. After its introduction in 1774 Code, the main issue with lbw has always been the “must pitch straight” clause. In 1821, it was changed to “must be delivered straight”, being reverted in 1839. In 1901, there was a campaign to omit “must pitch straight” was started but it failed to gain the necessary majority at MCC. Following a two-year trial period, the Law for lbw changed in 1937. It allowed the dismissal after the ball pitched outside the off-stump. There was a long and heated controversy about “pad play” followed for over the next three decades. The Law was again changed in 1972 which stated to penalize the batsman who had “played no stroke”. The revised terminology of the Law was confirmed by its inclusion in the 1980 Code and the remaining part of the 2000 Code.
The Laws of Cricket Today
On 1 October 2017, the current version of the Laws of Cricket, read as the “Laws of Cricket 2017 Code”, replaced the 6th Edition of the “2000 Code of Laws”. Meanwhile, MCC is still the custodian of the Laws of Cricket and the ICC is still dependent on them for drafting, debating, and interpreting the Laws of Cricket which are handled by the MCC’s Laws sub-committee.
The sub-committee of MCC prepares the draft which is then passed by the main committee of the Laws of Cricket. However, certain levels of cricket are subjected to the playing conditions that may differ from the Laws of Cricket. At the international level, these playing conditions are implemented by the ICC while at the domestic level, each country’s board of control is responsible for the same.
The code of Laws contains:
- Preface: It is the first paragraph of the Law stating the custodianship of the Law with the MCC.
- The preamble to the Laws of Cricket: The introductory statement regarding the Spirit of the Laws of cricket and recites the major responsibilities to ensure fair game between not only the two teams involved but also the team captains, players, match officials, teachers, coaches, and parents.
- 42 Laws of Cricket which are described later in the article
- 5 Appendices adding further definitions to a few particular Laws of cricket.
Setting up the game: First 12 Laws of Cricket
The first set of 12 Laws of Cricket cover the players and the game officials, basic equipment of the game, pitch specifications, and the timings of the game. These Laws of Cricket are then complemented by Appendices B, C, and D (listed out at the end of the article).
- Law 1: The Players – A team in cricket will have eleven players with a captain. However, apart from the official competitions, the teams may agree to play with more than eleven-per-side. But while fielding, there must be only eleven players on the field.
- Law 2: The Umpires – There will be two umpires who will apply the Law, making and relaying all the necessary decisions to the scorers. Although not required by under the Laws of cricket, a third umpire may be used, at the higher level of cricket, under the specific playing conditions of a particular fixture or competition. The third umpire should be located off the field and will assist the on-field umpires during the game.
- Law 3: The Scorers – There will be two scorers who will respond to the signals of the two umpires and keep the score.
- Law 4: The Ball – The size of the cricket ball is between 8.81 and 9 inches ( or 22.4 cm and 22.9 cm) in circumference. The weight of the ball falls between 5.5 and 5.75 ounces (155.9 gm and 163 gm) in men’s cricket. In Law 4.6, the size of the ball is slightly smaller and lighter for women’s cricket, and again slightly smaller and lighter in junior cricket. Only one ball is used at a time until it is lost after which it is replaced with a ball of similar wear. Meanwhile, it is replaced at the beginning of each innings, and at the request of the fielding side, it ‘may’ be replaced with a new ball but only after the minimum number of overs have been bowled as prescribed by the regulations under which the match is taking place (at present, it is 80 overs in Test matches). The gradual degradation of the ball through the innings is an important aspect of the game.
- Law 5: The Bat –The size of the bat should not be more than 38 inches (96.52cm) in length, no more than 4.25 inches (10.8cm) wide, and no more than 2.64 inches (6.7cm) deep at its middle while no deeper than 1.56 inches (4.0cm) at the edges. Also, after the ComBat incident where Dennis Lillee brought out an aluminium bat during an international game, the Laws of Cricket have specified that the blade of the bat must be made of wood. The hand or the gloves holding the bat is considered as the part of the bat.
- Law 6: The Pitch – The pitch area in the match is a rectangular area on the ground with the dimensions of 22 yards (20.12m) in length and 10 ft (3.05m) wide. The pitch is selected and prepared by the Ground Authority and after the game starts, the umpires control what happens on the pitch. Also, the umpires are the arbiters of deciding whether the pitch is fit for play and if the pitch is unfit, after the consent from both the captains, can change the pitch. The professional cricket is always played on the grass surface. However, for the events, the non-turf pitch is used. The artificial surface of the pitch must be of a minimum of 58 ft (17.68 m) length-wise and must be of a minimum of 6 ft (1.83 m) in width.
- Law 7: The Creases – This Law specifies the dimensions and the locations of the creases. The bowling crease is the line where the stumps are placed in the middle of. It is drawn at each end of the pitch with the three stumps falling on either side of the pitch (consequently making it perpendicular to the imaginary line joining the centres of both the middle stumps). Each bowling crease should be of 8ft 8 inches (2.64m) in length, centred on the middle stump at each end. Each of the bowling creases terminates at one of the return creases. The popping crease determines whether the batsman is in his ground or not. This is also used in determining the front-foot and no-balls (in Law 21). It is also drawn at each end of the pitch in front of each of the two sets of stumps placed on either side of the pitch. The Law states that the popping crease must be 4 ft (1.22m) in front of and parallel to the bowling crease. Even though it is considered to be of unlimited length, the popping crease must be marked to at least 6 ft (1.83m) on either side of the imaginary line joining the centres of the middle stumps. The return creases mark the lines within which the bowler has to be when making a delivery. These are drawn on each side of each set of the stumps, along either side of the pitch which sums up in four return creases in total. The return creases lie perpendicular to the popping crease and the bowling crease, 4ft 4inches (1.32m) either side of and parallel to the imaginary line joining the centres of the two middle stumps. Each return crease terminates at one end of the popping crease while the other end is considered to be unlimited lengthwise. But it is, still, marked to a minimum of 8ft (2.44m) from the popping crease.
- Law 8: The wickets – The wicket consists of the three wooden stumps placed on either end of the pitch, with two bails placed on top of the stumps. Each of the three stumps is 28 inches (71.12 cm) tall. They are placed along the bowling crease with equal distances between each stump. The position between each of the stump is such that the wicket is 9 inches (22.86cm) wide. Meanwhile, the bails must not project more than 0.5 inches (1.27cm) above the stumps and must be 4.31 inches (10.95 cm) long for men’s cricket. Also, the lengths for the barrel and spigots of the bail are also specified in the Law. For junior cricket, the wickets and the bails have different specifications. Under special unfit conditions such as in windy weather, the umpires may dispense with the bails. Further details on the specifications of the wickets are contained in Appendix D to the Laws of Cricket.
- Law 9: Preparation and maintenance of the playing area –The behaviour of the ball is greatly influenced by the pitch conditions, often producing a bounce when bowled on the pitch. Thereafter, detailed and necessary rules for the management of the pitch are introduced in this section of the Law. This Law defines the rules that govern how pitches should be prepared, mown, rolled, and maintained.
- Law 10: Covering the pitch – To protect the pitch against rain or dew, the groundsmen place covers over the pitch. However, the Laws of Cricket state that the regulations on covering the pitch shall be agreed by both the captains in advance. The decision of whether to cover the ground directly concerns the nature of the bounce produced by the ball. A ball bounces differently on wet ground in comparison to the dry ground. Meanwhile, the area behind the pitch used for the ‘run-up’ by the bowler should ideally be kept dry to avoid injury through slipping and falling. This Law requires the ground to be covered wherever possible during wet weather.
- Law 11: Intervals – This section of the Law includes a ten-minute interval between each innings along with lunch, tea, and drinks intervals. The timing and length of each interval are to be agreed before the match commences. Meanwhile, there are also provisions for moving the intervals and interval-lengths in certain situations, most notably the provision in case if nine wickets are down, then the lunch and tea intervals are delayed to the earliest of the fall of the next wicket and 30 minutes elapsing.
- Law 12: Start of Play; Cessation of play – After the interval, the game resumes with the umpire’s call of “Play” and ceases at the end of the session with a call of “Time”. The last hour of a match, however, must contain at least 20 overs, extending the time to include 20 overs if necessary.
Innings and Result in the Laws of Cricket
The Laws of Cricket from 13 to 16 outlines the structure of the game that includes how one team can defeat the other.
- Law 13: Innings – Before the game starts, the two teams agree whether it is to be one or two innings per side and if either or both the innings are to be limited by time or by overs. However, in practice, these decisions are likely to be entrusted by the Competition Regulations instead of the pre-game agreement. In the two-innings game, the sides bat alternatively until-and-unless the follow-on (stated in Law 14) is enforced. An innings is closed once all the batsmen of the team are dismissed and no further batsmen are fit to play. Meanwhile, the innings is declared or forfeited by the captain of the batting side, or any agreed time or if over-limit is reached. The captain winning the toss gets to decide whether to bat or to bowl first.
- Law 14: The Follow-on – In the two-innings match, if the side batting second scores considerably fewer runs than the side that batted first, then the first-batting side can ask their opponents to bat again immediately. The side that enforced the follow-on, generally, has a higher chance of winning without being asked to bat again. For the game of five or more days, the side coming in to bat first must be at least 200 runs ahead to impose the follow-on. Meanwhile, for a three-to-four-days game, it should be 150 runs, for a two-day game – 100 runs, for a one-day game it is 75 runs. The length of the game is determined by the number of scheduled days of the play left when the game begins.
- Law 15: Declaration and forfeiture – Only the captain of the batting side can declare an innings closed at any time when the ball is dead. He may also forfeit his innings before it has started.
- Law 16: The Result – The team which scores the most runs wins the match. If by any chance, both the sides score the same number of runs, the match is tied. Also, in other cases, the match may run out of time before the innings have all been completed. In such cases, the match results to draw.
Overs, scoring, dead ball, and extras in the Laws of Cricket
The Laws of Cricket from 17 to 23 have discussed in detail how runs can be scored in a match.
- Law 17: The over – One over consists of six balls to be bowled, excluding the wides and the no-balls. While a bowler may not be allowed to bowl two back-to-back overs, every consecutive over is delivered from the opposite ends of the pitch.
- Law 18: Scoring runs – Runs are simply scored when the two batsmen run to each other’s side of the pitch. There are several other ways to score runs on a single ball.
- Law 19: Boundaries – The boundary is circular lining marked around the edge of the field of play. If the ball is hit into or past this boundary, then four runs are scored. Or if the ball directly crosses the boundary, without hitting anywhere on the ground, then six runs are scored.
- Law 20: Dead Ball – The ball is in play when the bowler begins his run-up, and becomes dead when all the action from that ball is over. And once the ball is dead, no runs can be scored and no batsmen can be dismissed. However, there can be several decisions that declare the ball dead. These instances could be – when the batsman is dismissed, or when a boundary is hit, or when the ball has finally settled with the bowler or wicketkeeper.
- Law 21: No-Ball – There are several reasons included for the ball to be declared as the no-ball. It could be – if the bowler bowls from the wrong place, or if he straightens his elbow during the delivery, or if the bowling is dangerous. It is also considered as no-ball: if the ball bounces more than once or rolls along the ground before it reaches the batsman, or if the fielders are standing in illegal places. Every no-ball accounts to one run which is added to the batting team’s score, in addition to any other runs which are scored from the same delivery. Also, the batsman cannot be dismissed off of the no-ball, unless it is a run-out or hitting the ball twice or obstructing the field.
- Law 22: Wide Ball – The umpire calls a ball wide if the ball appears to be so wide from the batsman and the wicket that he could not hit it with the bat for a normal cricket shot. One run is added on a wide-ball to the batting team’s score in addition to the other runs (if any) scored off of it. Meanwhile, the batsman cannot be dismissed off a wide except by being run-out or stumped by hitting his wicket or obstructing the field.
- Law 23: Bye and leg-bye – If a ball which is not a wide passed the batsman at the strike and runs are scored, then they are called byes. But, if the ball hits the batsman at strike but not the bat and still runs are scored, then they are called leg-byes. However, there are no runs scored from a leg-bye if the batsman is neither attempting a stroke nor trying to avoid being hit. All the runs acquired from byes and leg-byes are credited to the team’s score and not the batsman’s tally.
Players, Substitutes, and Practice in the Laws of Cricket
The Laws of Cricket from 24 to 28 specifies the role of runners, substitutes, wicketkeeper, and fielders.
- Law 24: Fielders’ absence; Substitutes – A team may ask for a substitute player for an injured fielder in a match. But, the substitute may not bat, bowl, or act as a captain. Meanwhile, the original player may return if he has recovered in due time of the innings.
- Law 25: Batsman’s innings; Runners – A batsman may ask for a runner (if the batsman is unable to run) who will complete runs while the batsman continues the batting. However, the use of a runner is not permitted in international cricket under the current playing conditions. Alternatively, the batsman may retire hurt, or ill, and may return later to resume his innings if he recovers in due time.
- Law 26: Practice on the field – Practicing on the pitch is not permitted during the match. All the batting or bowling practices are allowed on the outfield during the intervals or before the commencement of the game and after the end of the game for the day. Meanwhile, the bowlers may practice bowling and/or have trial run-ups if the umpires regard that it would not waste time or damage the ball or the pitch in the process.
- Law 27: The wicket-keeper – The wicket-keepers are the fielders in the bowling side who are designated to stand behind the stumps of the batsman. They are the only fielders who are allowed to wear gloves and external leg-guards for protection.
- Law 28: The fielder – Any of the eleven players from the bowling side who is positioned to field the ball, to stop the ball reaching the boundaries and scoring fours-and-sixes, or to get the batsmen out by catching or running them out is the fielder.
Dismissal of a batsman in Laws of Cricket
This section of the Laws of Cricket is divided into two parts. Part A will cover the Laws from 29 to 31 which will state the mechanics of dismissing a batsman in an innings.
- Law 29: The wicket is down – To put down a wicket is to take out a batsman through several methods of dismissal. It could be when the ball hits the stumps or the batsman, or when the fielder holding the ball hits the wickets and at least one bail is removed. If, somehow, both bails have already been previously removed then one stump must be removed from the ground.
- Law 30: Batsman out of his/her ground – The batsmen can be run-out or stumped if they are out the popping crease on either side of the pitch, also regarded as ‘being out of their ground’. The batsman or any part of his bat should be on the ground behind the popping crease at all times unless the ball is ended. If both the batsmen are in the middle of the pitch when a wicket is put down, then the one closer to that end is out.
- Law 31: Appeals – In case the fielders believe that the batsman is out, then they may ask the umpire “How’s that?” before the next ball is bowled. After the appeal made by the fielders, it will be on the umpire to decide whether the batsman is out or not. The fielding side is allowed to appeal for all dismissals, including the bowled out. However, it is often witnessed that in the game-spirit the batsman who is out, leaves the pitch even if there is no appeal or a decision passed from the umpire.
Now, Part B covers the Laws of Cricket from 32 to 40 where the various ways for dismissing a batsman are discussed. Apart from these 9 Laws of Cricket, the batsman may retire out which was covered in Law 25. Few of these 9 Laws of Cricket are quite famous in cricket, like lbw, run-out, stumped, or bowled. Here are the 9 Laws of Cricket of dismissing the batsman discussed in detail:
- Law 32: Bowled – A batman is bowled out if the ball delivered by the bowler hits the stumps, irrespective of touching the bat, glove, or any part of the batsman before making the contact. Also, it is important that it had not touched any other player or an umpire before hitting the batsman’s wickets.
- Law 33: Caught – The batsman is called out when the ball hits the bat or the hand holding it and is then caught by the opposing fielders within the field of play. Also, the ball should not bounce before it reaches the fielder after being hit by the batsman.
- Law 34: Hit the ball twice – If the batsman hits the ball twice, either with the consent of the opposition or for reasons other than to protect his wicket, then he is declared out.
- Law 35: Hit wicket – After the bowler starts his run-up stride and the ball is still in the play if the batsman puts his wicket down by his bat or his body, then he is declared out. The batsman is also out through hit wicket if he hits the stumps by his bat or his body while setting off for the first run. Please note, “body” includes the clothes and the equipment of the batsman.
- Law 36: Leg before wicket (LBW) – The batsman is given LBW out if the ball hits the batsman without first hitting the bat, is in line of impact, and the ball does not pitch on the leg-side of the wicket. The line of impact, here, describes the line in which the ball would have gone to hit the wicket had the batsman not been there. However, if the ball strikes the batsman outside the line of the off-stump, and the striker was attempting to play a stroke, he will not be declared out.
- Law 37: Obstructing the field – The striker is declared out if – he voluntarily impedes the opposition by word or by action or strikes the ball with his free hand (one not holding the bat). Also, if the actions of the non-striker prevent the opposition from taking a catch, then the batsman at the strike is out. Please note, ‘Handled the Ball’ was previously practised as a method for dismissal.
- Law 38: Run-out – A batsman, on strike or not on strike, is given run-out when the ball is in play and no part of his body or bat is grounded behind the popping crease. His wicket is fairly put down by the opposing side.
- Law 39: Stumped – While batting, the striker goes out of the crease to play a short and the ball goes straight in the hands of the wicket-keeper, then if the keeper puts down the wicket of the striker before he is inside the crease, the batsman is declared stumped
- Law 40: Timed-out – The striker is given 3 minutes to be on the crease ( with his partner) after the dismissal of the outgoing batsman. If he fails to do so, the incoming batsman will be declared out.
Unfair Play in Laws of Cricket
The remaining two Laws of Cricket (Law 41 and Law 42) consist of the rules made to ensure fair play in a match, guided under the surveillance of the match officials and the umpires on the ground.
- Law 41: Unfair Play – It controls and regulates several restrictions to ensure a fair game. These restrictions cover – distracting the batsmen, dangerous bowling, changing the condition of the ball, wasting time, or damaging the pitch. Some of the minor offences may induce the penalty of runs, while the others may see warnings or end up imposing restrictions on the player/s.
- Law 42: Players’ Conduct – This Law gives the umpire the right to penalize a player/players for the unacceptable conduct based on the severity of their actions. Any serious misconduct may incur the penalty of the player being sent from the field, while the lesser offences might end up with a warning or the penalty of runs.
Appendices in the Laws of Cricket
The five appendices of the Laws of Cricket consists of the additions made to any of the 42 Laws of Cricket above.
- Appendix A: It consists of a set of definitions or clarifications of phrases that are, otherwise, not defined within the Laws of Cricket.
- Appendix B: It contains further specifications on the size and the composition of the bat, as mentioned in Law 5, used in the game.
- Appendix C: The further explanations about the measurements of how the pitch (in Law 6) and the creases (Law 7) are marked out through diagrams.
- Appendix D: This explains the size and the shape of the wickets, as specified in Law 8, through measurements and diagrams.
- Appendix E: Restrictions on the size and the design of the gloves worn by the wicket-keepers are enclosed in this.