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Law 41 - Unfair play

THE LAW

41.1 Fair and unfair play – responsibility of captains

The captains are responsible for ensuring that play is conducted within The Spirit of Cricket, as described in The Preamble – The Spirit of Cricket, as well as within the Laws.

41.2 Fair and unfair play – responsibility of umpires

The umpires shall be the sole judges of fair and unfair play.  If either umpire considers an action, not covered by the Laws, to be unfair he/she shall intervene without appeal and, if the ball is in play, call and signal Dead ball and implement the procedure as set out in 41.19.  Otherwise umpires shall not interfere with the progress of play without appeal except as required to do so by the Laws.

41.3  The match ball – changing its condition

41.3.1 The umpires shall make frequent and irregular inspections of the ball.  In addition, they shall immediately inspect the ball if they suspect anyone of attempting to change the condition of the ball, except as permitted in 41.3.2.

41.3.2 It is an offence for any player to take any action which changes the condition of the ball.

Except in carrying out his/her normal duties, a batsman is not allowed to wilfully damage the ball.  See also Law 5.5 (Damage to the ball).

A fielder may, however

41.3.2.1 polish the ball on his/her clothing provided that no artificial substance is used and that such polishing wastes no time.

41.3.2.2 remove mud from the ball under the supervision of an umpire.

41.3.2.3 dry a wet ball on a piece of cloth that has been approved by the umpires.

41.3.3 The umpires shall consider the condition of the ball to have been unfairly changed if any action by any player does not comply with the conditions in 41.3.2.

41.3.4 If the umpires consider that the condition of the ball has been unfairly changed by a member or members of either side, they shall ask the captain of the opposing side if he/she would like the ball to be replaced.  If necessary, in the case of the batting side, the batsmen at the wicket may deputise for their captain.

41.3.4.1 If a replacement ball is requested, the umpires shall select and bring into use immediately, a ball which shall have wear comparable to that of the previous ball immediately prior to the contravention.

41.3.4.2 Regardless of whether a replacement ball has been chosen to be used, the bowler’s end umpire shall

- award 5 Penalty runs to the opposing side.

- if appropriate, inform the batsmen at the wicket and the captain of the fielding side that the ball has been changed and the reason for their action.

- inform the captain of the batting side as soon as practicable of what has occurred.

The umpires together shall report the occurrence as soon as possible after the match to the Executive of the offending side and to any Governing Body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain, any other individuals concerned and, if appropriate, the team.

41.3.5 If the umpires agree that in the match there has been any further instance by that team of unfairly changing the condition of the ball, they shall

41.3.5.1 repeat the procedure in 41.3.4.1 and 41.3.4.2.

If the further offence is committed by the fielding side, additionally the bowler’s end umpire shall

41.3.5.2 - direct the captain of the fielding side to suspend immediately from bowling the bowler who delivered the preceding ball; he/she shall not be allowed to bowl again in the match.

- inform the batsmen at the wicket and, as soon as practicable, the captain of the batting side of the reason for the action.

- if necessary, the over 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.

41.4 Deliberate attempt to distract striker

41.4.1 It is unfair for any fielder deliberately to attempt to distract the striker while he/she is preparing to receive or receiving a delivery.

41.4.2 If either umpire considers that any action by a fielder is such an attempt, he/she shall immediately call and signal Dead ball and inform the other umpire of the reason for the call.  The bowler’s end umpire shall

- award 5 Penalty runs to the batting side.

- inform the captain of the fielding side, the batsmen and, as soon as practicable, the captain of the batting side of the reason for the action.

Neither batsman shall be dismissed from that delivery and the ball shall not count as one of the over.

Together with the other umpire report the occurrence as soon as possible after the match to the Executive of the offending side and to any Governing Body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain, any other individuals concerned and, if appropriate, the team.  

41.5 Deliberate distraction, deception or obstruction of batsman

41.5.1 In addition to 41.4, it is unfair for any fielder wilfully to attempt, by word or action, to distract, deceive or obstruct either batsman after the striker has received the ball.

41.5.2 It is for either one of the umpires to decide whether any distraction, deception or obstruction is wilful or not.

41.5.3 If either umpire considers that a fielder has caused or attempted to cause such a distraction, deception or obstruction, he/she shall immediately call and signal Dead ball and inform the other umpire of the reason for the call.  

41.5.4 Neither batsman shall be dismissed from that delivery.

41.5.5 If an obstruction involves physical contact, the umpires together shall decide whether or not an offence under Law 42 (Players’ conduct) has been committed.

41.5.5.1 If an offence under Law 42 (Players’ conduct) has been committed, they shall apply the relevant procedures in Law 42 and shall also apply each of 41.5.7 to 41.5.9.  

41.5.5.2 If they consider that there has been no offence under Law 42 (Players’ conduct), they shall apply each of 41.5.6 to 41.5.10.       

41.5.6 The bowler’s end umpire shall

- award 5 Penalty runs to the batting side.

- inform the captain of the fielding side of the reason for this action and as soon as practicable inform the captain of the batting side.

41.5.7 The ball shall not count as one of the over.

41.5.8 Any runs completed by the batsmen before the offence shall be scored, together with any runs for penalties awarded to either side.  Additionally, the run in progress shall be scored whether or not the batsmen had already crossed at the instant of the offence.

41.5.9 The batsmen at the wicket shall decide which of them is to face the next delivery.

41.5.10 The umpires together shall report the occurrence as soon as possible after the match to the Executive of the offending side and to any Governing Body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain, any other individuals concerned and, if appropriate, the team.

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.  See also Law 21.10 (Ball bouncing over head height of striker).

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 batsmen of what has occurred.

This caution shall apply to that bowler throughout the innings.

41.6.4 Should there be any further such delivery by the same bowler in that innings, the umpire shall

- call and signal No ball

- when the ball is dead, direct the captain of the fielding side to suspend the bowler immediately from bowling

- inform the other umpire for the reason for this action.

The bowler thus suspended shall not be allowed to bowl again in that innings.

If applicable, the over 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.

- The umpire shall report the occurrence to the batsmen and, as soon as practicable, to the captain of the batting side.

The umpires together shall report the occurrence as soon as possible after the match to the Executive of the offending side and to any Governing Body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain, any other individuals concerned and, if appropriate, the team.

41.6.5 The warning sequence in 41.6.3 and 41.6.4 is independent of the warning and action sequence in 41.7.

41.7  Bowling of dangerous and unfair non-pitching deliveries

41.7.1 Any delivery, which passes or would have passed, without pitching, above waist height of the striker standing upright at the popping crease, is to be deemed dangerous and unfair, whether or not it is likely to inflict physical injury on the striker.  If the bowler bowls such a delivery the umpire shall immediately 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. The umpire shall also inform the other umpire, the captain of the fielding side and the batsmen of what has occurred. This caution shall apply to that bowler throughout the innings.

41.7.2 Should there be any further such delivery by the same bowler in that innings, the umpire shall

- call and signal No ball

- when the ball is dead, direct the captain of the fielding side to suspend the bowler immediately from bowling

- inform the other umpire for the reason for this action.

The bowler thus suspended shall not be allowed to bowl again in that innings.

If applicable, the over 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.

Additionally the umpire shall

- report the occurrence to the batsmen and, as soon as practicable, to the captain of the batting side.

The umpires together shall report the occurrence as soon as possible after the match to the Executive of the offending side and to any Governing Body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain, any other individuals concerned and, if appropriate, the team.

41.7.3 The warning sequence in 41.7.1 and 41.7.2 is independent of the warning and action sequence in 41.6.

41.7.4 If the umpire considers that a bowler deliberately bowled a non-pitching delivery, deemed to be dangerous and unfair as defined in 41.7.1, then the caution and warning in 41.7.1 shall be dispensed with. The umpire shall

- immediately call and signal No ball.

- when the ball is dead, direct the captain of the fielding side to suspend the bowler immediately from bowling and inform the other umpire for the reason for this action.

The bowler thus suspended shall not be allowed to bowl again in that innings.

If applicable, the over 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.

- report the occurrence to the batsmen and, as soon as practicable, to the captain of the batting side.

The umpires together shall report the occurrence as soon as possible after the match to the Executive of the offending side and to any Governing Body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain, any other individuals concerned and, if appropriate, the team.

41.8     Bowling of deliberate front-foot No ball

If the umpire considers that the bowler has delivered a deliberate front-foot No ball, he/she shall

- immediately call and signal No ball.

- when the ball is dead, direct the captain of the fielding side to suspend the bowler immediately from bowling

-   inform the other umpire for the reason for this action.

The bowler thus suspended shall not be allowed to bowl again in that innings.

If applicable, the over 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.

- report the occurrence to the batsmen and, as soon as practicable, to the captain of the batting side.

The umpires together shall report the occurrence as soon as possible after the match to the Executive of the offending side and to any Governing Body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain, any other individuals concerned and, if appropriate, the team.

41.9    Time wasting by the fielding side

41.9.1 It is unfair for any fielder to waste time. 

41.9.2 If either umpire considers that the progress of an over is unnecessarily slow, or time is being wasted in any other way, by the captain of the fielding side or by any other fielder, at the first instance the umpire concerned shall

- if the ball is in play, call and signal Dead ball.

- inform the other umpire of what has occurred.

The bowler’s end umpire shall then

- warn the captain of the fielding side, indicating that this is a first and final warning.

- inform the batsmen of what has occurred.

41.9.3 If either umpire considers that there is any further waste of time in that innings by any fielder, the umpire concerned shall

- if the ball is in play, call and signal Dead ball.

- inform the other umpire of what has occurred.

The bowler’s end umpire shall then

either, if the waste of time is not during an over, award 5 Penalty runs to the batting side and inform the captain of the fielding side of the reason for this action

or,      if the waste of time is during the course of an over, direct the captain of the fielding side to suspend the bowler immediately from bowling. 

The bowler thus suspended shall not be allowed to bowl again in that innings.

If applicable, the over 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.

Additionally the umpire shall inform the batsmen and, as soon as is practicable, the captain of the batting side of what has occurred.

The umpires together shall report the occurrence as soon as possible after the match to the Executive of the offending side and to any Governing Body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain, any other individuals concerned and, if appropriate, the team.

41.10 Batsman wasting time

41.10.1 It is unfair for a batsman to waste time.  In normal circumstances, the striker should always be ready to take strike when the bowler is ready to start his/her run-up.

41.10.2 Should either batsman waste time by failing to meet this requirement, or in any other way, the following procedure shall be adopted.  At the first instance, either before the bowler starts his/her run-up or when the ball becomes dead, as appropriate, the umpire shall

- warn both batsmen and indicate that this is a first and final warning.  This warning shall apply throughout the innings.  The umpire shall so inform each incoming batsman.

- inform the other umpire of what has occurred.

- inform the captain of the fielding side and, as soon as practicable, the captain of the batting side of what has occurred.

41.10.3 If there is any further time wasting by any batsman in that innings, the umpire shall, at the appropriate time while the ball is dead

- award 5 Penalty runs to the fielding side.

- inform the other umpire of the reason for this action.

- inform the other batsman, the captain of the fielding side and, as soon as practicable, the captain of the batting side of what has occurred.

The umpires together shall report the occurrence as soon as possible after the match to the Executive of the offending side and to any Governing Body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain, any other individuals concerned and, if appropriate, the team.

41.11 The protected area

The protected area is defined as that area of the pitch contained within a rectangle bounded at each end by imaginary lines parallel to the popping creases and 5 ft/1.52 m in front of each, and on the sides by imaginary lines, one each side of the imaginary line joining the centres of the two middle stumps, each parallel to it and 1 ft/30.48 cm from it.

41.12 Fielder damaging the pitch

41.12.1 It is unfair to cause deliberate or avoidable damage to the pitch. A fielder will be deemed to be causing avoidable damage if either umpire considers that his/her presence on the pitch is without reasonable cause.

41.12.2 If a fielder causes avoidable damage to the pitch, other than as in 41.13.1, at the first instance the umpire seeing the contravention shall, when the ball is dead, inform the other umpire. The bowler’s end umpire shall then

- caution the captain of the fielding side and indicate that this is a first and final warning. This warning shall apply throughout the innings.

- inform the batsmen of what has occurred.

41.12.3 If, in that innings, there is any further instance of avoidable damage to the pitch, by any fielder, the umpire seeing the contravention shall, when the ball is dead, inform the other umpire. The bowler’s end umpire shall then

- signal No ball or Wide to the scorers, if applicable.

- award 5 Penalty runs to the batting side.

- award any other 5 run Penalty that is applicable.

- inform the fielding captain of the reason for this action.

- inform the batsmen and, as soon as practicable, the captain of the batting side of what has occurred.

The umpires together shall report the occurrence as soon as possible after the match to the Executive of the offending side and to any Governing Body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain, any other individuals concerned and, if appropriate, the team.

41.13 Bowler running on protected area

41.13.1 It is unfair for a bowler to enter the protected area in his/her follow-through without reasonable cause, whether or not the ball is delivered.

41.13.2 If a bowler contravenes this Law, at the first instance and when the ball is dead, the umpire shall

- caution the bowler and inform the other umpire of what has occurred.  This caution shall apply to that bowler throughout the innings.

- inform the captain of the fielding side and the batsmen of what has occurred.

41.13.3 If, in that innings, the same bowler again contravenes this Law, the umpire shall repeat the above procedure indicating that this is a final warning. This warning shall also apply throughout the innings.

41.13.4 If, in that innings, the same bowler contravenes this Law a third time, when the ball is dead, the umpire shall,

- direct the captain of the fielding side to suspend the bowler immediately from bowling. If applicable, the over 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.  The bowler thus suspended shall not be allowed to bowl again in that innings.

- inform the other umpire of the reason for this action.

- inform the batsmen and, as soon as practicable, the captain of the batting side of what has occurred.

The umpires together shall report the occurrence as soon as possible after the match to the Executive of the offending side and to any Governing Body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain, any other individuals concerned and, if appropriate, the team.

41.14 Batsman damaging the pitch

41.14.1 It is unfair to cause deliberate or avoidable damage to the pitch.  If the striker enters the protected area in playing or playing at the ball, he/she must move from it immediately thereafter.  A batsman will be deemed to be causing avoidable damage if either umpire considers that his/her presence on the pitch is without reasonable cause.

41.14.2 If either batsman causes deliberate or avoidable damage to the pitch, other than as in 41.15, at the first instance the umpire seeing the contravention shall, when the ball is dead, inform the other umpire of the occurrence. The bowler’s end umpire shall then

- warn both batsmen that the practice is unfair and indicate that this is a first and final warning.   This warning shall apply throughout the innings. The umpire shall so inform each incoming batsman.

- inform the captain of the fielding side and, as soon as practicable, the captain of the batting side of what has occurred.

41.14.3 If there is any further instance of avoidable damage to the pitch by any batsman in that innings, the umpire seeing the contravention shall, when the ball is dead, inform the other umpire of the occurrence.

The bowler’s end umpire shall

- disallow all runs to the batting side

- return any not out batsman to his/her original end

- signal No ball or Wide to the scorers if applicable.

- award 5 Penalty runs to the fielding side.

- award any other 5-run Penalty that is applicable except for Penalty runs under Law 28.3 (Protective helmets belonging to the fielding side).

- Inform the captain of the fielding side and, as soon as practicable, the captain of the batting side of the reason for this action.

The umpires together shall report the occurrence as soon as possible after the match to the Executive of the offending side and to any Governing Body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain, any other individuals concerned and, if appropriate, the team.

41.15 Striker in protected area

41.15.1 The striker shall not adopt a stance in the protected area or so close to it that frequent encroachment is inevitable. 

The striker may mark a guard on the pitch provided that no mark is unreasonably close to the protected area. 

41.15.2 If there is breach of any of the conditions in 41.15.1 by the striker, the umpire seeing the contravention shall, if the bowler has not entered his/her delivery stride, immediately call and signal Dead ball, otherwise, he/she shall wait until the ball is dead and then inform the other umpire of the occurrence.

The bowler’s end umpire shall then

- warn the striker that the practice is unfair and indicate that this is a first and final warning. This warning shall apply throughout the innings. The umpire shall so inform the non-striker and each incoming batsman.

- inform the captain of the fielding side and, as soon as practicable, the captain of the batting side of what has occurred.

41.15.3 If there is any further breach of any of the conditions in 41.15.1 by any batsman in that innings, the umpire seeing the contravention shall, if the bowler has not entered his/her delivery stride, immediately call and signal Dead ball, otherwise, he/she shall wait until the ball is dead and then inform the other umpire of the occurrence.

 The bowler’s end umpire shall then

- disallow all runs to the batting side

- return any not out batsman to his/her original end

- signal No ball or Wide to the scorers if applicable.

- award 5 Penalty runs to the fielding side.

- award any other 5-run Penalty that is applicable except for Penalty runs under Law 28.3 (Protective helmets belonging to the fielding side).

- inform the captain of the fielding side and, as soon as practicable, the captain of the batting side of the reason for this action.

The umpires together shall report the occurrence as soon as possible after the match to the Executive of the offending side and to any Governing Body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain, any other individuals concerned and, if appropriate, the team

41.16 Non-striker leaving his/her ground early

If the non-striker is out of his/her ground from the moment the ball comes into play to the instant when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball, the bowler is permitted to attempt to run him/her out. Whether the attempt is successful or not, the ball shall not count as one in the over.

If the bowler fails in an attempt to run out the non-striker, the umpire shall call and signal Dead ball as soon as possible.

41.17 Batsmen stealing a run

It is unfair for the batsmen to attempt to steal a run during the bowler’s run-up.  Unless the bowler attempts to run out either batsman – see 41.16 and Law 21.4 (Bowler throwing towards striker’s end before delivery) – the umpire shall

- call and signal Dead ball as soon as the batsmen cross in such an attempt.

- inform the other umpire of the reason for this action.

The bowler’s end umpire shall then

- return the batsmen to their original ends.

- award 5 Penalty runs to the fielding side.

- award any other 5 run Penalty that is applicable, except for Penalty runs under Law 28.3 (Protective helmets belonging to the fielding side).

- inform the batsmen, the captain of the fielding side and, as soon as practicable, the captain of the batting side, of the reason for this action.

The umpires together shall report the occurrence as soon as possible after the match to the Executive of the offending side and to any Governing Body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain, any other individuals concerned and, if appropriate, the team.

41.18 Penalty runs

41.18.1     When Penalty runs are awarded to either side, when the ball is dead the umpire shall signal the Penalty runs to the scorers.  See Law 2.13 (Signals).

41.18.2     Penalty runs shall be awarded in each case where the Laws require the award, even if a result has already been achieved.  See Law 16.6 (Winning hit or extras).

Note, however, that the restrictions on awarding Penalty runs, in Laws 23.3 (Leg byes not to be awarded), 25.7 (Restriction on the striker’s runner), 28.3 (Protective helmets belonging to the fielding side) and 34.4 (Runs permitted from ball lawfully struck more than once) will apply.

41.18.3 When 5 Penalty runs are awarded to the batting side,

- they shall be scored as Penalty extras and shall be in addition to any other penalties.

- they are awarded when the ball is dead and shall not be regarded as runs scored from either the immediately preceding delivery or the immediately following delivery, and shall be in addition to any runs from those deliveries.

- the batsmen shall not change ends solely by reason of the 5 run penalty.

41.18.4 When 5 Penalty runs are awarded to the fielding side, they shall be added as Penalty extras to that side’s total of runs in its most recently completed innings.  If the fielding side has not completed an innings, the 5 Penalty runs shall be added to the score in its next innings.

41.19 Unfair actions

41.19.1 If an umpire considers that any action by a player, not covered in the Laws, is unfair, he/she shall call and signal Dead ball, if appropriate, as soon as it becomes clear that the call will not disadvantage the non-offending side, and report the matter to the other umpire.  

The bowler’s end umpire shall

41.19.1.1 If this is a first offence by that side

- summon the offending player’s captain and issue a first and final warning which shall apply to all members of the team for the remainder of the match. 

- warn the offending player’s captain that any further such offence by any member of his/her team shall result in the award of 5 Penalty runs to the opposing team.

41.19.1.2 If this is a second or subsequent offence by that side

- award 5 Penalty runs to the opposing side

41.19.1.3 The umpires together shall report the incident as soon as possible after the match to the Executive of the offending side and to any Governing Body responsible for the match, who shall take such action as is considered appropriate against the captain, any other individuals concerned and, if appropriate, the team.


© Marylebone Cricket Club 2017

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