@Ben_Wisden 3 minute read
The MCC have announced several significant changes to the Laws of cricket, to take effect from October 2022.
The changes follow on from a major overhaul witnessed in 2017, described by the MCC as “the most significant [alterations] that have been made for almost two decades” and are “intended to shape the game of cricket as it should be played”. The Law changes will come into effect from October 2022.
One of the most notable, for its origins as for its potential impact on the game, is a change to Law 18, which determines which batter takes strike after a ‘caught’ dismissal. First trialled in The Hundred, from now on, in any form of cricket, it won’t matter if the batters cross before a catch is taken; instead, the new batter will always take up the end the striker was at. This will simplify the rules and reward the bowling side for taking a wicket by giving them a fresh batter to bowl at.
There has also been a change to the wide Law, to aid bowlers as batters increasingly shimmy and threaten a change in feet position before a ball is bowled. Now, a batter’s position will include where they have stood at any point during a bowler’s run-up, as well as where they are standing at the point of delivery. This means that, if a bowler steps outside leg-stump, before stepping back in when the ball is bowled, a ball which passes down the leg-side but would have hit the batter when he stepped outside leg should not be called wide.
There has also been a significant change to the Mankad Law, which allows a bowler to run out a non-striker before delivery, with the section shifted from the ‘Unfair Play’ section to the ‘Run Out’ section. While this will make no material difference to how the game is played, the aim is to normalise a mode of dismissal which sits entirely within the Laws of cricket, but still causes controversy when enacted.
The final significant change is the permanent banning of saliva to shine a cricket ball, originally outlawed on a temporary basis at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. MCC research has found that sweat is equally effective when used for polishing the ball, with the banning of saliva also preventing fielders from altering their saliva by eating sugary sweets, something which led to Faf du Plessis being found guilty of ball-tampering in 2015.
Smaller changes include unfair movement by a fielder being punishable by five penalty runs, a striker being allowed to hit a ball which lands off a pitch, as long as some part of the batter remains on the pitch while completing the stroke, and pitch invaders interfering with play resulting in a dead ball. Previously, bowlers throwing the ball at the striker’s end to attempt a run out would be no balled, whereas now any instances will be called dead ball.