Use of saliva for ball-shining, and batters changing ends during dismissals also amended
The new batter being on strike even if the players crossed while a catch is taken, a reframing of the law for running out non-strikers while backing up, and a permanent ban on using saliva to shine the ball are among the changes to MCC’s Laws that will come into effect later this year.
An updated code of the Laws was approved by the MCC’s main committee this week. The changes will also allow greater leeway to the bowler in the judging of wides when a batter has moved across the crease, and see the introduction of penalty runs for the batting side should a fielder be deemed to have moved unfairly.
The decision to change the Law for caught dismissals comes as a result of its trialling in the Hundred. Previously, if the two batters crossed before a catch was taken, the new batter would go to the non-striker’s end; now they will always be on strike – unless it is the end of the over – in a move that was proposed as a way of further rewarding the bowler for taking a wicket.
The wording that covers a player being run out by the bowler while backing up – often referred to as Mankading – has been moved from Law 41 (Unfair play) to Law 38 (Run out), in a further attempt to remove some of the stigma around such dismissals.
“The bowler is always painted as the villain but it is a legitimate way to dismiss someone and it is the non-striker who is stealing the ground,” Fraser Stewart, MCC Laws Manager, told the Times. “It is legitimate, it is a run-out and therefore it should live in the run-out section of the laws.”
The prohibition of saliva as a means of shining the ball came about through changes to playing conditions during Covid, with MCC’s research suggesting it had had “little or no impact” on bowlers’ ability to generate swing. Making this the default position was felt to remove any ambiguity around the use of mints or sweets to change the condition of the ball – something that was already banned.
The rewording of Law 22.1, meanwhile, means that wide calls will “apply to where the batter is standing, where the striker has stood at any point since the bowler began their run-up, and which would also have passed wide of the striker in a normal batting position”.
Further changes have been agreed governing the use of replacements, the Laws governing dead balls, and the legality of trying to play the ball once it has gone off the cut strip.
Updates to the Laws are usually incorporated throughout the game, from international down to club level, although governing bodies around the world have the ability to ignore unwanted changes by reference to competition-specific playing conditions.
“Since the publication of the 2017 Code of the Laws of Cricket, the game has changed in numerous ways,” Stewart said in an MCC press release. “The 2nd edition of that Code, published in 2019, was mostly clarification and minor amendments, but the 2022 Code makes some rather bigger changes, from the way we talk about cricket to the way it’s played.
“It is important that we announce these changes now as part of the club’s global commitment to the game, giving officials from all over the world the chance to learn under the new Code ahead of the Laws coming into force in October.”