The Laws of Cricket


The game of Cricket has been governed by a series of Codes of Law for over 250 years. These Codes have been subject to additions and alterations recommended by the governing authorities of the time. Since its formation in 1787, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has been recognised as the sole authority for drawing up the Code and for all subsequent amendments. The Club also holds the World copyright.

The basic Laws of Cricket have stood remarkably well the test of well over 250 years of playing the game. It is thought the real reason for this is that cricketers have traditionally been prepared to play in the Spirit of the Game as well as in accordance with the Laws.

In 2000, MCC revised and re-wrote the Laws for the new Millennium. In this Code, the major innovation was the introduction of the Spirit of Cricket as a Preamble to the Laws.

Whereas in the past it was assumed that the implicit Spirit of the Game was understood and accepted by all those involved, MCC felt it right to put into words some clear guidelines, which help to maintain the unique character and enjoyment of the game. The other aims were to dispense with the Notes, to incorporate all the points into the Laws and to remove, where possible, any ambiguities, so that captains, players and umpires could continue to enjoy the game at whatever level they might be playing. MCC consulted widely with all the Full Member Countries of the International Cricket Council, the Governing Body of the game. There was close consultation with the Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers. The Club also brought in umpires and players from all round the world.

This latest version, The Laws of Cricket (2000 Code 4th Edition – 2010) includes several necessary amendments arising from experience and practical application of the Code around the world since October, 2000.

Significant dates in the history of the Laws are as follows:

1700 Cricket was recognised as early as this date.

1744 The earliest known Code was drawn up by certain “Noblemen and Gentlemen” who used the Artillery Ground in London.

1755 The Laws were revised by “Several Cricket Clubs, particularly the Star and Garter in Pall Mall”.

1774 A further revision was produced by “a Committee of Noblemen and Gentlemen of Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Middlesex and London at the Star and Garter”.

1786 A further revision was undertaken by a similar body of Noblemen and Gentlemen of Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Middlesex and London.

1788 The first MCC Code of Laws was adopted on 30th May.

1835 A new Code of Laws was approved by the MCC Committee on 19th May.

1884 After consultation with cricket clubs worldwide, important alterations were incorporated in a new version approved at an MCC Special General Meeting on 21st April.

1947 A new Code of Laws was approved at an MCC Special General Meeting on 7th May. The main changes were aimed at achieving clarification and better arrangement of the Laws and their interpretations. This did not, however, exclude certain definite alterations which were designed to provide greater latitude in the   conduct of the game as required by the widely differing conditions in which Cricket was played.

1979 After five editions of the 1947 Code, a further revision was begun in 1974 with the aim being to remove certain anomalies, consolidate various Amendments and Notes, and to achieve greater clarity and simplicity. The new Code of Laws was approved at an MCC Special General Meeting on 21st November.

1992 A second edition of the 1980 Code was produced, incorporating all the amendments which were approved during the intervening twelve years.

2000 A new Code of Laws, including a Preamble defining the Spirit of Cricket was approved on 3rd May, 2000.

Many queries on the Laws, which apply equally to women’s cricket as to men’s, are sent to MCC for decision every year. MCC, as the accepted Guardian of the Laws, has always been prepared to answer the queries and to give interpretations on certain conditions, which will be readily understood.

(a) In the case of league or competition cricket, the enquiry must come from the committee responsible for organising the league or competition. In other cases, enquiries should be initiated by a representative officer of a club, or of an umpires’ association on behalf of his or her committee, or by a master or mistress in charge of school cricket.

(b) MCC reserves the right not to answer queries which it considers to be frivolous.

(c) The enquiry must not be connected in any way with a bet or wager.

Lord’s Cricket Ground K Bradshaw

London NW8 8QN Secretary & Chief Executive MCC

5 May 2010


The Preamble – The Spirit of Cricket

Law 1 – The players

Law 2 – Substitutes and runners; batsman or fielder leaving the field;batsman retiring; batsman commencing innings

Law 3 – The umpires

Law 4 – The scorers

Law 5 – The ball

Law 6 – The bat

Law 7 – The pitch

Law 8 – The wickets

Law 9 – The bowling, popping and return creases

Law 10 – Preparation and maintenance of the playing area

Law 11 – Covering the pitch

Law 12 – Innings

Law 13 – The follow-on

Law 14 – Declaration and forfeiture

Law 15 – Intervals

Law 16 – Start of play; cessation of play

Law 17 – Practice on the field

Law 18 – Scoring runs

Law 19 – Boundaries

Law 20 – Lost ball

Law 21 – The result

Law 22 – The over

Law 23 – Dead ball

Law 24 – No ball

Law 25 – Wide ball

Law 26 – Bye and Leg bye

Law 27 – Appeals

Law 28 – The wicket is down

Law 29 – Batsman out of his ground

Law 30 – Bowled

Law 31 – Timed out

Law 32 – Caught

Law 33 – Handled the ball

Law 34 – Hit the ball twice

Law 35 – Hit wicket

Law 36 – Leg before wicket

Law 37 – Obstructing the field

Law 38 – Run out

Law 39 – Stumped

Law 40 – The wicket-keeper

Law 41 – The fielder

Law 42 – Fair and unfair play

Appendix A – Law 8 (The wickets)

Appendix B – Laws 7 (The pitch) and 9 (The bowling, popping and return creases)

Appendix C – Wicket-keeping gloves

Appendix D – Definitions and explanations of words and phrases not defined in the text.

Appendix E – Law 6 (The bat)

The Preamble – The Spirit of Cricket

Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its Laws but also within the Spirit of the Game. Any action which is seen to abuse this spirit causes injury to the game itself. The major responsibility for ensuring the spirit of fair play rests with the captains.

1. There are two Laws which place the responsibility for the team's conduct firmly on the captain.

Responsibility of captains

The captains are responsible at all times for ensuring that play is conducted within the Spirit of the Game as well as within the Laws.

Player’s conduct

In the event of a player failing to comply with instructions by an umpire, or criticising by word or action the decisions of an umpire, or showing dissent, or generally behaving in a manner which might bring the game into disrepute, the umpire concerned shall in the first place report the matter to the other umpire and to the player's captain, and instruct the latter to take action.

2. Fair and unfair play

According to the Laws the umpires are the sole judges of fair and unfair play.

The umpires may intervene at any time and it is the responsibility of the captain to take action where required.

3. The umpires are authorised to intervene in cases of:

Time wasting

Damaging the pitch

Dangerous or unfair bowling

Tampering with the ball

Any other action that they consider to be unfair

4. The Spirit of the Game involves RESPECT for:

Your opponents

Your own captain and team

The role of the umpires

The game and its traditional values

5. It is against the Spirit of the Game:

To dispute an umpire's decision by word, action or gesture

To direct abusive language towards an opponent or umpire

To indulge in cheating or any sharp practice, for instance:

(a) to appeal knowing that the batsman is not out

(b) to advance towards an umpire in an aggressive manner when appealing

(c) to seek to distract an opponent either verbally or by harassment with persistent clapping or unnecessary noise under the guise of enthusiasm and motivation of one's own side

6. Violence

There is no place for any act of violence on the field of play.

7. Players

Captains and umpires together set the tone for the conduct of a cricket match. Every player is expected to make an important contribution to this.

The players, umpires and scorers in a game of cricket may be of either gender and the Laws apply equally to both. The use, throughout the text, of pronouns indicating the male gender is purely for brevity. Except where specifically stated otherwise, every provision of the Laws is to be read as applying to women and girls equally as to men and boys.