Stop practicing your bowling (and other changes to the Laws of cricket) | Cricket coaching, fitness and tips

Stop practicing your bowling (and other changes to the Laws of cricket)

Years ago, changes to the Laws of cricket changed the game.

Round arm allowed bowlers to increase their pace in the 1800’s. In the 1930’s, the Bodyline controversy caused fielding restrictions and the banning of the overuse of bouncers.

Dramatic stuff.

These days Law changes don’t have quite the impact, but they still happen.

Canny cricketers always take a moment to find out about the changes, just in case. You wouldn’t want to miss the modern equivalent of round-arm bowling would you?

Besides, its stuff you should know for when you do your umpiring stint.

So here is the amateur cricketers guide to the latest tweaks in the Laws by the MCC (all came into force for all levels of cricket on October 1st 2010).

You can’t delay your decision if you win the toss

It used to be the case that you could win the toss and not tell the opposition captain your decision until 10 minutes before play. It makes sense as an opener (bowler or batsman) that this isn’t very fair.

So now the decision has to be announced at the toss. And an umpire should be there.

Law 12.4 and 12.5

Bowling to mid off is banned

This is one I think will be ignored by a lot of club players. You know how you used to bowl a couple of balls to mid-off (or whoever) before you started your spell?

Well, now you can’t. The MCC consider it altering the condition of the ball illegally.

As most bowlers I play with do this, it’s going to take some smart umpires to put an end to it, especially at lower levels where the umpire is usually a player.

Law 42.3

Slow bowlers front foot must stay on the same side

In the past, it was legal for a bowler to bowl over the wicket but land his front foot on the other side of the stumps. This essentially means he (or she) is bowling around the wicket.

I’ve never seen it, but it sounds unfair to me. And it did to the MCC too, so they changed the Law to ban it.

Now you must land your whole foot on the same side of the wicket as you are bowling from.

Law 24.5

A broken bat can get you out

If your bat breaks and the broken bit dislodges a bail you are now out (before it wasn’t out).

While this seems pretty unlucky, it brings the Law into line with other weird forms of getting out like your cap hitting the stumps or the slightly more common treading on the wicket.

Law 28.1

Those are the headlines.

There are a few other changes that are less relevant to club players. I’ve never seen any of the Laws applied in their old or new form in 20 years of playing: Umpires won’t offer the light any more, batsmen lose a warning for running on a wicket, You can’t be run out of your feet are in the air after grounding your foot behind the popping crease and you can only start fielding the ball inside the boundary.

So very little drama this time around, it’s all minor stuff, but knowing it may give you the tiny advantage you need.

For more on how to practically apply the Laws of cricket click here. 

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The other 2 major rule changes that affected the way the game was played was

(1) the universal adoption of 6-ball overs rather than 8 as was the case in the southern hemisphere until the late 1970's: Bowlers tactics could not be as varied within an over. It effectively meant that less balls could be bowled per day, and there's still talk at the MCC rules committee every year to revert to 8 balls.

I grew up with 8 ball overs, and I think it was a better battle between bowler and batsman.

(2) the front foot no-ball rule. There's some really interesting history about how the old backfoot rule used to be managed - especially because many bowlers have a style where they 'drag' the back foot as they it was never clear at what point his foot was behind or infront of the crease, Apparently the umpire used to just watch the first few balls from the bowler and note where the drag started and say to the bowler "thats your mark" and judged no balls based on this, not the actual stumps/crease line!

I bet the next rule change is about switch hitting and specififying that the leg and off sides are determined by the batsman's stance at the start of the bowler's run up.

There was a debate about whether a batsman could be given out LBW if he switched stances mid ball, making a ball that was outside Off become outside Leg.

Someone should be making more rules about the BATS! As a bowler I think that modern bats make it totally unfair, when even the slightest tap can get a ball to the boundary. Batsman dont have to time the ball any more, and the thick edges mean they get value for totally duff shots.

Agree DBD, I think adding the 3rd stump was a biggie too, and the wickets were increased in size twice back when the bat started to dominate ball too much.

The law changes on practice bowling clarify "that deliberately bowling the ball into the ground in practice will contravene Law 42.3 (The match ball – changing its condition)."

So I think it would still be ok to practice by bowling full tosses to a fielder, who might for it to be useful be somewhat closer than 22 yards.

I disagree with the rule on bowling to mid-off. Surely anything that helps the bowler warm-up, reduces the likelihood of injuries and increases the overall standard (by eliminating the "loosener") can only be a good thing for the sport.

I also think the wording is ambiguous. It sounds to me as if they are specifically banning the deliberate bowling of the ball directly "into" the ground in an effort to alter its condition, not a couple of easy deliveries to a team mate.

If I were the umpire, even knowing that rule as I now do, I would only penalise the bowler if I felt he was making a deliberate attempt to alter the condition of the ball.