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