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Heather Knight: There’s a case for getting rid of the Spirit of Cricket Laws preamble

Heather Knight
by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

In the 2024 edition of the Wisden Almanack, England captain Heather Knight has called for the removal of the Spirit of Cricket from the Preamble to the Laws of the game.

The MCC added a Preamble to the Laws of Cricket in 2000, where they outlined their vision of the Spirit of Cricket. “Respect is central to the Spirit of Cricket,” insists the Preamble, before chronicling the following points.

– Respect your captain, team-mates, opponents and the authority of the umpires.
– Play hard and play fair.
– Accept the umpire’s decision.
– Create a positive atmosphere by your own conduct, and encourage others to do likewise.
– Show self-discipline, even when things go against you.
– Congratulate the opposition on their successes, and enjoy those of your own team.
– Thank the officials and your opposition at the end of the match, whatever the result.

“The preamble is well-meaning but wishy-washy: no one really knows what it is,” summed up Heather Knight in the 2024 Wisden Almanack. “I also think it’s been used to vilify people who are perceived to be in breach of the Spirit of Cricket when they’re only following the Laws of the game.”

Knight also touched upon its subjectivity, which results in its myriad interpretations around the world: “Too often, the Spirit of Cricket is a grey area, especially as it gets interpreted differently in different parts of the world. When that happens, it can become a divisive issue: one culture’s view of what constitutes it won’t necessarily be another’s.”

However, she remains an advocate of the sporting spirit in which the game should be played: “Of course, there’s a place for sportsmanship in the game, for how you behave and for the respect you show to umpires and opponents.”

She also narrated how, in her experience, the sporting spirit is easy to explain even without the preamble. “When I’ve visited primary schools and explained this idea to children, they do get it. But I’m not convinced the preamble helps. In fact, there’s a case for getting rid of it altogether.”

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