MCC has announced specific limitations on the size of cricket bats that will be included in the new Code of Laws.
- Bat size limitations to become Law, modes of dismissal to be reduced and language of the Laws to cater for both sexes.
- Batsmen will be protected from ‘bouncing bat’ run outs, while on-field sanctions for poor player behaviour will also be introduced.
- New Code of Laws will be the first to be issued since 2000.
After the new Code is issued on 1 October 2017, the maximum dimensions of a cricket bat will be 108mm in width, 67mm in depth with 40mm edges.
The move comes after consultations with bat manufacturers, the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations, International Cricket Council, MCC World Cricket committee, umpires’ associations and other global governing bodies on the balance between bat and ball.
A bat gauge will ensure that the new limits are adhered to in the professional game, whilst a moratorium period, allowing players to use their existing bats which may be in breach of the Law, will be allowed in the amateur game.
The length of the moratorium will be determined by local governing bodies and may vary for different levels of cricket.
Umpires will be equipped with a number of sanctions to tackle poor player behaviour in the new Code.
Severity of offences will range from Levels 1 to 4, with umpires administering the in-game punishment they deem appropriate for the offence.
Offences can range from showing dissent at an umpire’s decision to committing any act of violence, with sanctions including warnings, the award of five penalty runs to the opposition and, for more serious offences, temporary or permanent removal from the field.
Other changes to the Laws include the number of modes of dismissal being reduced from ten to nine, with ‘Handled the ball’ being subsumed into ‘Obstructing the field’. This will have no effect on whether or not a batsman is dismissed.
The game of cricket has evolved a great deal since the last Code of Laws
In addition, batsmen will be protected from ‘bouncing bat’ run out incidents under the new Code.
If the bat (held by the hand) or another part of the batsman’s person is grounded beyond the popping crease and this contact with the ground is subsequently lost when the wicket is put down, the batsman will be protected from being run out if he/she is running or diving and has continued forward momentum towards the stumps and beyond.
The Law regarding running out the non-striker has also been altered. It will state that 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.
This will keep non-strikers in their ground for slightly longer than the current Law and mirrors ICC’s Playing Regulations.
The new Code of Laws will also be written in language that is neutral to both sexes for the first time.
As it stands, the Laws currently make all references to the male gender, with a disclaimer stating all such references apply equally to women and girls.
The new Code will include an increased use of generic nouns like ‘fielder’ and ‘bowler’ and use ‘he/she’ when required. The term ‘batsman’ will remain, however, as it is seen as a term of the game that is equally applicable to females.
This will be the first time at new Code of Laws has been written since 2000.
John Stephenson, MCC Head of Cricket, said: “The game of cricket has evolved a great deal since the last Code of Laws was written in 2000, so much so that MCC made changes to that Code on five separate occasions in the last 14 years.
"We felt the time was right for a new Code to tidy up many of the piecemeal changes made since 2000. The process has taken nearly three years and has involved significant consultation.
"The MCC Laws Drafting Group has worked tirelessly on the project and I would like to thank them for all their hard work. We are very pleased with the outcome, which we believe reflects the continuing evolution of cricket.
"We felt the time had come to introduce sanctions for poor player behaviour and research told us that a growing number of umpires at grass roots level were leaving the game because of it.
"Hopefully these sanctions will give them more confidence to handle disciplinary issues efficiently, whilst providing a deterrent to the players.
"The bat size issue has been heavily scrutinised and discussed in recent years. We believe the maximum dimensions we have set will help redress the balance between bat and ball, while still allowing the explosive, big hitting we all enjoy.”
The new code of Laws will be released following a meeting of the MCC Committee on 20 March.
Umpire Sanctions under the new Code
Offences include excessive appealing and showing dissent at an umpire’s decision. Following an official warning, a second Level 1 offence will result in five penalty runs being awarded to the opposing team.
Offences (including throwing the ball at a player or making deliberate physical contact with an opponent during play), will result in the immediate awarding of five penalty runs to the opposing team.
Offences (including intimidating an umpire or threatening to assault another player, team official or spectator) will result in five penalty runs and a removal of the offending player from the field for a set number of overs, depending on the format of the match.
Offences (threatening an umpire or committing any act of violence on the field of play), will result in five penalty runs and the removal of the offending player for the remainder of the match. If the player is batting at the time of the offence, he/she will be recorded as ‘retired out’.