The rules of cricket



This treatise being intended only as a handbook of the game of Cricket, I have thought best to confine myself purely to the theory and practicer of the game, considering all else to be fairly considered besides its scope and object, and therefore out of place.

Many people may say - indeed, many do say - "Where is the use of a book on cricket? Can cricket be read up?" To which I answer most emphatically, "Yes!" As much as chess, or any other game. Yes, cricket can be read up. Of course I do not mean to say that reading alone can or will make a cricketer; but I can unhesitatingly affirm that the hints and directions that are given in any good work on the subject will be found an invaluable adjunct to the purely mechanical practice in the field.

it is true that practice under the personal supervision of a good player, is from every point of view, most important - but then it is only a comparatively few who can obtain the services of a good instructor, so that for the rest it is book-teaching, or no teaching at all; and cricket by the light of nature, is a creation of strange and wonderful proportions.

Book-teaching, therefore, in the absence of downright personal instruction, is by no means to be despised; and even with it, it may be of service by fixing in the memory the various hints and directions received amid the directions of play, and therefore liable to be forgotten, or but feebly remembered. The book, too, has this further advantage, that each several player may extract from it at will that information of which he at the moment finds himself most in need, and even correct his tendency to any fault before it be formed into a habit, and its actual committal attract the attention of the instructor.

It may be still further objected that as cricket is only a game it is scarcely worth while to take such extreme pains, and devote so much study to its pursuit.

I have not space here to convince such, if they be worth convincing. I write only for those who take up this game as they should take up everything in life, with a firm intention and endeavor to do in it to the best of their ability, in accordance with the old adage, "What is worth doing at all, is worth doing well."

As for half-hearted players, fellows who field with hands in pockets, one eye on the ball, and the other on every bird that flies - that wander about the field restlessly till it is their turn to go in, and then have to be called up with much shouting and gesticulation, whose sole idea of cricket is batting, and who look upon fielding as a necessary evil, to be taken in as small doses and slurred over as quickly as possible- to such this treatise will be useless, because incomprehensible; they will not understand my earnestness, as I certainly cannot understand their apathy.

Let them conquer their sloth, learn to take some real interest in the game beyond the mere selfish consideration of themselves making so many runs, and have some consideration for the pleasure of their fellows in the game, and I shall have somewhat to say to them.

The following are the rules, universally accepted in their integrity, as published by the Marylebone (London) Club, the parent Cricket Club of the world.

The Laws of Cricket

The Ball. - 1. Must weigh not less than five ounces and a half, nor more than five ounces and three-quarters. It must measure not less than nine inches, nor more than nine inches and one quarter in circumference. At the beginning of each innings either party may call for a new ball.

The Bat. - 2. Must not exceed four and a quarter inches in the widest part; it must not be more than thirty-eight inches in length.

The Stumps - 3. Must be three in number; twenty-seven inches out of the ground; the bails eight inches in length, the stumps of sufficient and equal thickness to prevent the ball from passing through.

The Bowling Crease - 4. Must be in a line with the stumps; six feet eight inches in length, the stumps in the centre, with a return crease at each end towards the bowler at right angles.

The Popping Crease - 5. Must be four feet from the wicket, and parallel to it; unlimited in length, but not shorter than the bowling crease.

The Wickets - 6. Must be pitched opposite to each other by the umpires, at the distance of twenty-two yards. 7. It shall not be lawful for either party during a match, without the consent of the other, to alter the ground by rolling, watering, covering, mowing, or beating, except at the commencement of each innings, when the ground may be swept and rolled at the request of either party, such request to be made to one of the umpires within one minute after the conclusion of the former innings. This rule is not meant to prevent the striker from beating the ground with his bat near to the spot where he stands during the innings, nor to prevent the bowler from filling up holes with sawdust, etc., when the ground is wet.

8. After rain the wickets may be changed with consent of both parties.

The Bowler - 9. Shall deliver the ball with one foot on the ground behind the bowling crease and within the return crease, and shall bowl four balls before he change wickets; which he shall be permitted to do only once in the same innings.

10. The ball must be bowled. If thrown or jerked, the umpire shall call, "No ball."

11. He may require the striker at the wicket from which he is bowling to stand on that side of it which he may direct.

12. If the bowler shall toss the ball over the striker's head, or bowl it so wide that in the opinion of the umpire it shall not be fairly within the reach of the batsman, he shall adjudge one run to the party receiving the innings, either with or without an appeal, which shall be put down to the score of "wide balls;" such ball shall not be reckoned as one of the four balls; but if the batsman shall by any means bring himself within reach of the ball, the run shall not be adjudged.

13. If the bowler deliver a "no ball" or a "wide ball," the striker shall be allowed as many runs as he can get, and he shall not be put out except by running out. In the event of no run being obtained by any other means, then one run shall be added to the score of "no balls" or "wide balls" as the case may be. All runs obtained for "wide balls" to be scored to "wide balls." The names of the bowlers who bowl "wide balls" or "no balls" in future to be placed on the score, to show the parties by whom either score is made. If the ball shall first touch any part of the striker's dress or person (except his hands), the umpire shall call "Leg bye."

14. At the beginning of each innings the umpire shall call "Play;" from that time to the end of each innings no trial ball shall be allowed to any bowler.

15. If either of the balls be bowled off, or if a stump be bowled out of the ground;

16. Or, if the ball, from the stroke of the bat or hand, but not the wrist, be held before it touch the ground, although it be hugged to the body of the catcher;

17. Or, if in striking, or at any other time when the ball be in play, both his feet shall be over the popping crease, and his wicket put down, except his bat be grounded within it;

18. Or, if in striking at the ball he hit down his wicket; 19. Or, if under pretense of running, or otherwise, either of the strikers prevent a ball from being caught, the striker of the ball is out;

20. Or, if the ball be struck, and he wilfully strike it again;

21. Or, if in running, the wicket be struck down by a throw, or by the hand or arm, with ball in hand, before his bat, in hand, or some part of his person be grounded over the popping crease. But if both the balls be off, a stump must be struck out of the ground;

22. Or, if any part of the striker's dress knock down the wicket;

23. Or, if the striker touch or take up the ball while in play, unless at the request of the opposite party;

24. Or, if with any part of his person he stop the ball, which, in the opinion of the umpire at the bowler's wicket, shall have been pitched in a straight line from it to the striker's wicket, and would have hit it;

25. If the players have crossed each other, he that runs for the wicket which shall be put down is out.

26. A ball being caught no run shall be reckoned.

27. A striker being run out, that run which he and his partner were attempting, shall not be reckoned.

28. If a lost ball be called, the striker shall be allowed six runs; but if more than six shall have been run before lost ball shall have been called, then the striker shall have all which have been run.

29. After the ball shall have been finally settled in the wicket keeper's or bowler's hands, it shall be considered dead; but when the bowler is about to deliver the ball, if the striker at the wicket go outside the popping crease before such actual delivery, the said bowler may put him out, unless (with reference to the 21st law) his bat in hand, or some part of his person be within the popping crease.

30. The striker shall not retire from his wicket and return to it to complete his innings after another has been in, without the consent of the opposite party.

31. No substitute shall in any case be allowed to stand out or run between wickets for another person without the consent of the opposite party; and in case any person shall be allowed to run for another, the striker shall be out if either he or his substitute be off the ground in manner mentioned in Laws 17 and 21, while the ball is in play.

32. In all cases where a substitute shall be allowed, the consent of the opposite party shall also be obtained as to the person to act as substitute, and the place in the field which he shall take.

33. If any fieldsman stop the ball with his bat, the ball shall be considered dead, and the opposite party shall add five runs to their score; If any be run they shall have five in all.

34. The ball having been hit, the striker may guard his wicket with his bat, or with any part of his body except his hands, that the 23rd Law may not be disobeyed.

35. The wicket-keeper shall not take the ball for the purpose of stumping until it shall have passed the wicket; he shall not move until the ball be out of the bowler's hand; he shall not by any noise incommode the striker; and if any part of his person be over or before the wicket, although the ball hit, the striker shall not be out.

36. The umpires are the sole judges of fair or unfair play, and all disputes shall be determined by them, each at his own wicket; but in case of a catch which the other umpire at the wicket bowled from cannot see sufficiently to decide upon, he may apply to the other umpire, whose opinion shall be conclusive.

37. The umpires in all matches shall pitch fair wickets, and the parties shall toss up for choice of innings. The umpires shall change wickets after each party has had one innings.

38. They shall allow two minutes for each striker to come in, and ten minutes between each innings. When the umpire shall call "Play," the party refusing to play shall lose the match.

39. They are not to order a striker out unless appealed to by the adversaries;

40. But if either of the bowler's feet be not on the ground behind the bowling crease and within the return crease when he shall deliver the ball, the umpire at his wicket, unmasked, must call "No ball."

41. If either of the strikers run a short run, the umpire must call "One short."

42. No umpire shall be allowed to bet.

43. No umpire is to be changed during a match, unless with the consent of both parties, except in case of violation of the 42nd Law; then either party may dismiss the transgressor.

44. After the delivery of four balls the umpire must call "Over," but not until the ball shall be finally settled in the wicket-keeper's or bowler's hand; the ball then shall be considered dead: nevertheless, if an idea be entertained that either of the striker's is out, a question may be put previously to, but not after, the delivery of the next ball.

45. The umpire must take especial care to call, "No ball" instantly upon delivery: "Wide ball" as soon as it shall pass the striker.

46. The players who go in second shall follow their innings, if they have obtained eighty runs less than their antagonists, except in all matches limited to only one day's play, when the number shall be limited to sixty instead of eighty.

47. When one of the strikers shall be put out, the use of the bat shall not be allowed to any person until the next striker shall come in.

NOTE: The Committee of the Marylebone Club think it desirable that, previously to the commencement of a match, one of each side should be declared the manager of it; and that the new laws with respect to substitutes may be carried out in a spirit of fairness and mutual concession, it is their wish that such substitutes be allowed in all reasonable cases, and that the umpire should inquire if it is done with the consent of the manager of the opposite side.

Complaints having been made that it is the practice of some players when at the wicket to make holes in the ground for a footing, the Committee are of opinion that the umpires should be empowered to prevent it.





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