Changes | Reason for change | Interpretation & Application
Changes to the Law are in italics
17.1. Practice on the pitch or the rest of the square
(a) There shall be no practice of any kind, at any time on any day of the match, on the pitch or on either of the two strips parallel and immediately adjacent to the pitch, one on either side of it, each of the same dimensions as the pitch.
(b) There shall be no practice of any kind on any other part of the square at any time on any day of the match, except before the start of play on that day or after the close of play on that day. Practice before the start of play
(i) must not continue later than 30 minutes before the scheduled time or any rescheduled time for play to start on that day.
(ii) shall not be allowed if the umpires consider that it will significantly impair the surface of the square.
17.2. Practice on the outfield
All forms of practice are permitted on the outfield
before the start of the day’s play on any day or after the close of play on any day
or during the lunch and tea intervals
or between innings, providing the umpires are satisfied that such practice will not cause significant deterioration in the condition of the outfield.
Such practice must not continue later than 5 minutes before the scheduled or any rescheduled time for play to commence or to resume.
17.3 Practice on the outfield between the call of Play and the call of Time
(a) The restrictions in (b), (c) and (d) below shall apply not only between the call of Play and the call of Time but also during an interval for drinks, or on any other occasion when Time has been called but the players remain on the field of play.
(b) No ball other than the match ball may be used on the field of play.
(c) There shall be no bowling or batting practice on the outfield. However, bowling a ball to a player in the outfield, using arm action only, although a form of practice shall not be regarded as bowling practice.
(d) All other forms of practice are permitted on the outfield either at the fall of a wicket or during other gaps in play for legitimate activities providing that
(i) only the fielders as defined in Appendix D participate in such practice
(ii) the umpire is satisfied that it will not contravene either of Laws 42.3 (The match ball – changing its condition) or 42.9 (Time wasting by the fielding side).
17.4 Trial run up
A bowler is permitted to have a trial run up provided the umpire is satisfied that it will not contravene either of Laws 42.9 (Time wasting by the fielding side) or 42.13 (Fielder damaging the pitch).
17.5 Penalties for contravention
All forms of practice are subject to the provisions of Laws 42.3 (The match ball – changing its condition), 42.9 (Time wasting by the fielding side) and 42.13 (Fielder damaging the pitch). Additionally, if there is a contravention of any of the provisions of 1, 2, or 3 above, the following penalties will apply. If the contravention is
(a) by a fielder, he shall not be allowed to bowl after the contravention until
either at least one hour has elapsed
or there has been at least 30 minutes of playing time since the contravention, whichever is sooner.
If the contravention is by the bowler during an over, he shall not be allowed even to complete that over. It shall be completed by another bowler, who shall neither have bowled any part of the previous over nor be allowed to bowl any part of the next over.
(b) by a batsman,
(i) in the first instance, the umpire shall warn the player that the practice is not permitted, and inform the other umpire, the captain of the fielding side and, as soon as practicable, the captain of the batting side of the reason for this action. This warning shall apply throughout the innings which is about to begin or is in progress. The umpire shall so inform each incoming batsman.
(ii) if during that innings there is any further contravention by any batsman, the umpire shall award 5 penalty runs to the fielding side. He shall inform the other umpire, the captain of the fielding side and as soon as practicable the captain of the batting side.
Reasons for the changes
It was acknowledged that a bowler bowling a practice delivery (e.g. to a fielder at mid off) was now commonplace. The change made in 2010 to outlaw this practice has been over-written by playing regulations in all professional and most amateur cricket. There was a need to ensure that such practice did not waste time or damage the condition of the ball. Such practice will now be allowed, subject to those restrictions.
Clarifications have also been added that prohibit coaches or non-players from practising with players from outside the boundary, and that the only cricket ball(s) on the field during the hours of play is(are) the official match ball(s).
Finally, there is the addition of a penalty for a batsman infringing this Law, which provides equity between both the batsmen and fielders who find themselves contravening this Law.
Interpretation & application
There has been a general tightening up in this Law. The changes all relate to the time when the players are on the field as players, whether play is in progress or not. Even though not between the call of Play and the call of Time, drinks intervals, occasions when the umpires leave the field to investigate the non- appearance of a new batsman, etc, are all included.
No one may practise except the actual players. Coaches on the boundary are banned from giving fielders a bit of throwing and catching practice or any other kind of practice.
Only the match ball may be used for practice. Fielders cannot introduce their own ball for practising. As the umpires are to take possession of the match ball at the fall of a wicket, at any interval or at any interruption, this leaves very little time when the match ball is available to players.
It may be that the umpire does not take the ball when the sight-screen is being adjusted or at other times when there is to be only a short gap in play. Certainly the bowler about to make the next delivery must have the ball! Equally, the players will not have the ball during a drinks interval.
Even when a player has the ball, he cannot use it for batting practice or for bowling practice. Throwing and catching and other forms of fielding practice are allowed. A trial run up is allowed, but must not involve running on the pitch.
There is also another concession to bowlers. They are allowed to ‘bowl’ a ball to a fielder in the outfield (no practice on the square) without a run up, using arm action only. This is not counted as bowling practice.
However, all these permitted forms of practice are subject to two overriding embargos:
1. Time must not be wasted.
2. There is to be no avoidable damage to the ball.
Umpires are to be strict in applying the appropriate penalties for contravention. Whilst the bowler is permitted to have a quick ‘bowl’ to another fielder before starting his over, if the whole field is waiting for the over to begin, time wasting could be a consideration. If instead of merely bowling the ball to a fielder he hurls it hard into the ground, avoidable damage cannot be ruled out.
In addition to the prescribed penalties for time wasting, pitch damage and ball damage (all stated elsewhere in the Laws), Section 5 sets out penalties for breaches of any section of Law 17. Included in Section 5 is a new penalty for batsmen who contravene any of the provisions of Law 17.
Not being allowed to bowl for a period of time – the penalty for errant bowlers – is not appropriate for batsmen. For them the standard procedure for warning and then imposition of 5 penalty runs and reporting is to be followed.