MCC would like to update its position on the global consultation that launched last year relating to short-pitched deliveries, and if they are fit for the modern game.
MCC can confirm that after extensive research in the area, the outcome is that there will not be a change in Law. However, the Club will continue to be vigilant on this matter and to educate players and officials on the risks of concussion, notably when remaining on the field after a head strike which could be concussive.
MCC's eLearning portal on concussion, located on the Club’s website, will continue to educate players and officials of the risks of concussion.
Research into concussion in sport has increased significantly in recent years and it is appropriate that MCC continues to monitor the Laws on short-pitched bowling, as it does with all other Laws. The Laws currently permit short-pitched bowling up to head height. Anything above head height is a No ball under the Laws.
The Club surveyed the attitudes of stakeholders from all levels to ascertain whether any changes should be made to the Laws. With the number of helmet-strikes on the rise compared to pre-helmet days, the safety aspect of such deliveries will continue to be monitored.
There were other important aspects to consider in the consultation, namely the balance between bat and ball; whether or not concussion should be recognised as a different injury to any other sustained; changes which are specific to particular sectors of the game - e.g. junior cricket; and whether or not lower-order batters should be given further protection than the Laws currently allow.
The results of the consultation suggest that whilst no Law change would be made, the Law as it currently exists – to offer protection to less-skilled batters if deemed necessary – should be exercised if the umpire believes that any batter is at risk of being injured:
Law 41.6 Bowling of dangerous and unfair short-pitched deliveries
41.6.1 The bowling of short-pitched deliveries is dangerous if the bowler’s end umpire considers that, taking into consideration the skill of the striker, by their speed, length, height, and direction they are likely to inflict physical injury on him/her. The fact that the striker is wearing protective equipment shall be disregarded.
41.6.2 The bowler’s end umpire may consider that the bowling of short-pitched deliveries, although not dangerous under 41.6.1, is unfair if they repeatedly pass above head height of the striker standing upright at the crease.
41.6.3 As soon as the umpire decides that the bowling of short-pitched deliveries has become dangerous under 41.6.1, or unfair under 41.6.2, he/she shall call and signal No ball. When the ball is dead, the umpire shall caution the bowler, indicating that this is a first and final warning, and inform the other umpire, the captain of the fielding side and the batters of what has occurred.
This caution shall apply to that bowler throughout the innings.
The existing Laws not only offer protection for batters of lesser ability, but also impose a penalty of a No ball and the removal of the offending bowler from bowling in that innings should the offence be repeated.
"The results of the consultation show that short-pitched bowling, within the Laws, is an important part of the makeup of the sport"
Jamie Cox, MCC Assistant Secretary (Cricket and Operations) said: “As with any potential change in the Laws, the key aspect is to ensure that it is appropriate for all levels of the game. The results of the consultation show that short-pitched bowling, within the Laws, is an important part of the makeup of the sport and in fact, to change it would materially change the game.
“However, given that the Laws allow for umpires to intervene should they believe that there is a safety consideration with the batter on strike, we encourage them to use their discretion and ensure that any risk of injury is minimised.
“We will also continue to educate players and officials about the risks of concussion through our website and eLearning portal, with the aim of the Laws consistently being applied in a safe manner.”
The Laws of Cricket can be read in full below.