(Photo: Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
As of October 1 the game will be governed by a new and updated Code of the Laws of Cricket. It’s the first time a new Code has been introduced since the 2000 version came into effect. At the same time the ICC has incorporated these Laws into its new Playing Conditions for international cricket. Whilst England haven’t had to worry about the new Laws and Regulations during the ODI series with the Windies, they will need to get their heads around them pretty quickly ahead of the upcoming Ashes. That goes for the women too. Some of these new laws may influence the betting world, as bookies may now look to change some of their offers.
Let’s run an eye over the most significant changes that have been made.
In international cricket, teams will no longer lose a DRS review, should that review be unsuccessful based on a verdict of ‘umpire’s call’. This is a natural and commonsense evolvement of DRS. In a Test match there will no longer be a top-up of reviews after 80 overs. This prevents the circumspect use of reviews when nearing the 80 over mark, which was both slowing the game down and amounting to misuse of the system, as DRS was originally there to challenge a howling error DRS also comes in for Twenty20 Internationals for the first time.
When it comes to lbws, the Law has been clarified in favour of the batsman in TV replays. If a replay shows the ball to have struck bat and pad simultaneously, this will now be interpreted as ‘bat first’ and therefore no lbw. Giving the batsman ‘the benefit of the doubt’ has never been written into the Laws, but this is probably as close as it gets.
A change I particularly like is the Law that says a batsman won’t now be run out if, having grounded their bat behind the popping crease, he or she carries on with forward motion but the bat bounces in the air at the moment the bails are removed. In 2013, the Laws were changed to protect a batsman who might have dropped his bat, grounded his foot over the popping crease, but then, in the course of running, had both feet in the air at the instant the wicket was put down. That Law now extends to the bouncing bat, and any other part of the body, provided the direction of movement continues forward. The same Law protects a striker diving back into their ground to avoid being stumped. All very logical and sensible.
Acrobatic fielders are going to have to be careful on the boundary however. The Laws state that a fielder must take off from within the boundary in order to make first contact with the ball. They can’t come from beyond the boundary, take off from behind the rope to catch or parry the ball and land inside. It gives the fielder no help in a bish-bash-bosh T20 but it seems fair that a fielder should work within the confines of the playing area – although it would be safer to allow a fielder to come forwards towards the ball, rather than topple backwards over a boundary.
There are a few changes to the Laws concerning helmets. A catch can now be taken if the ball first strikes a helmet worn by a fielder or wicket keeper. Helmets are an increasingly mandatory part of the game for close fielders, and are thus now seen as part of the fielder. A batsman can now also be run out or stumped if the ball ricochets directly off a protective helmet worn by a fielder or wicket keeper onto the stumps.
The Laws also allow for a catch to be claimed if it first lodges between the visor and grill of a helmet. This seems less logical, because there is no sense of the fielder having gained control of the ball themselves in order to claim the catch. I reckon a batsman could be considered extremely unlucky to be out caught in this manner. The dismissal would, however, somewhat compensate the close range fielder for a possible headache.
Any deliberate attempt to distract the striker won’t now result in a warning, but an immediate penalty of five runs to the batting side. The MCC have also clamped down on ‘mock’ fielding, where a fielder might feign picking up and throwing an imaginary ball back to the stumps in an attempt to discourage the batsman from running. The MCC make it clear in their Laws’ explainer that this is classed as deception and is therefore now outlawed.
Comfort breaks for bowlers might get quicker, as any player absent from the field will now have to serve penalty time equivalent to the total time they’ve been off the field, before they can resume bowling. If it happens at the end of a day in a multi-day match, the penalty carries over to the next. Previously a player could be off the field for 15 minutes before any penalties kicked in. It’s less clear how this would apply to a batsman who has had to dash to the pavilion for any reason during his innings. Meanwhile, a substitute fielder will now be permitted to keep wicket if required.
David Warner will be measuring his big bats tonight. The Laws now state that a bat can only be up to 67mm in depth, with a maximum edge of 40mm. The ICC will be issuing umpires with bat gauges to measure a bat during a game. This has long been discussed as a way of balancing the power between bat and ball.
There are quite a few changes regarding Dangerous and Unfair bowling. Bowlers will get only one, final warning for bowling bouncers aimed at the body or head, or full tosses above waist height, All such deliveries will be regarded as dangerous, no matter the pace of delivery or type of bowler.
The bowling of deliberate front foot no balls is specifically addressed under this section. It will now lead to immediate suspension from bowling for the rest of the innings. This wouldn’t, however, have deterred Kieron Pollard from apparently deliberately overstepping when the scores were level in a CPL match recently, and preventing Evin Lewis from reaching a century (the no ball extra meant the match was over).
The Law needs to be stronger to potentially carry some sort of bowling penalty over to the player’s next match if this is truly to be stamped out.
Something that is certainly not being stamped out is ‘Mankadding’ – the act of a bowler running out a batsman who is backing up. Mankadding has traditionally been a highly emotive issue, not least when Jos Buttler was run out by Sachithra Senanayake when Sri Lanka toured England in 2014. Buttler and England were mightily aggrieved.
However, the MCC are adamant the practise shouldn’t be frowned upon. Their Law change explainer states, “it is often the bowler who is criticised for attempting such a run out but it is the batsman who is attempting to gain an advantage. The message to the non-striker is very clear – if you do not want to risk being run out, stay within your ground until the bowler has released the ball.” It is a view I certainly subscribe to.
Umpires will now have the ability to send a player from the field of play for poor behaviour. A whole new Law, Law 42, outlines how. Elsewhere, ‘Handled the Ball’ has disappeared as a way of getting out in its own right, but is incorporated into ‘Obstructing the Field.’
And finally, bad news for my own bowling, as anyone who saw the TMS Anniversary match will know; it’s now illegal for a delivery to bounce more than once before it reaches the batsman. Drat…