The Code of Laws created by the MCC in 1788 still form the basis of the laws of cricket. These laws cover all parts of the game from equipment to fielding restrictions to preparation and maintenance of the pitch. If new additions or changes are to be made to this set of laws it is done in co-ordination with the ICC. These laws explain the workings of the game and its regulations there are 42 in all.
Players and officials
- A team is made of 11 players, of which one is the captain of the team. Outside official competitions teams can agree on playing more than 11 players, although no more than 11 can field at a time.
- An injured player may be substituted but the substitute cannot bat, bowl, keep wicket or act as captain. On recovery, the original player is allowed to come back. A batsman that is unable to run may use a runner, who does the running while the batsman continues to bat. The batsman is also allowed to retire ill or hurt and can come back to continue his innings if he is well again.
- Two umpires make all technical decisions and ensure that the rules are adhered to and also relay decisions to the scorer.
- Scorers keep track of the umpire’s signals and keep score.
Equipment and Pitch layout
- The cricket ball is between 8 13/16 and nine inches (22.4cm and 22.9cm) in circumference, and weighs from 5.5 and 5.75 ounces (155.9g and 163g). Only one is used at a time and if it is lost it should be replaced by one with similar wear. It should also be replaced at the start of each innings, at the request of fielding side and after 80 overs in a test match. The accumulated wear through the course of a game on the ball is a necessary part of the game.
- The bat may not be longer than 38 inches (96.5cm) and wider than 4.25 inches (10.6 cm). The hand or glove holding the bat is considered part of the bat and the blade should be made out of wood.
- The pitch is an area on the ground that is shaped like a rectangle with dimensions of 22 yards (19.8 m) length and 10 ft (3m) width. The Ground Authority chooses and prepares the pitch but after the commencement of the game the umpires make decisions concerning the pitch (i.e. If it is playable on or not etc.), they can also change the pitch if they decide that the pitch is unsuitable for play with the agreement of the captains. As professional cricket nearly always uses a grass pitch, when a non turf pitch is used the surface must at least be 58ft (17.4 m) long and 6ft (1.8 m) wide.
- The wicket is made of three stumps of wood that are 28 inches (70cm) tall. They are placed along the batting crease with equal distances between each stump and positioned so they are nine inches (22.5 cm) wide. Two wooden bails are placed on the stumps. The bails should not extend more than half an inch (1.3 cm) above the stumps, and have to, for men’s cricket, be 4 5/16 inches (10.8 cm) long. The parts of the bail also have fixed lengths. These specifications are different for junior cricket. The umpires can take away the bails if conditions are inappropriate (i.e. When they would automatically fall because of a strong wind).
- Creases. There are four creases at each end of the pitch.
- The bowling crease has the three stumps placed on it with the middle stump at the centre and should be eight feet eight inches (2.64 metres long). The distance from bowling crease to bowling crease is 22 yards (66 feet or 20.12m). The fielder or wicket keeper cannot encroach this space before they are permitted to do so or it will result in a ‘no ball’
- The popping crease is also located at both ends of the pitch it is in four feet (1.22 m) in front of and parallel to the bowling crease. When the ball is being delivered by the bowler, a part of the foot which is at front when the ball is delivered should remain behind this crease (although it does not have to be grounded) or else would result in a no ball. It is also important in determining if the batsman is run out or stumped.
- The Return Crease lies four feet four inches (1.32 m) parallel to the imaginary line joining the two middle stumps. There are two on either side of this imaginary line on each end of the pitch. Making four return creases in total. Each crease ends on one end at the popping crease while the other end stretched indefinitely but has to be marked to at least eight feet (2.44m). Some part of the bowler’s back foot should be within both return creases at one end when the ball is being delivered or else would result in a ‘no ball’.
- Pitch Preparation and Maintenance. This law states how the playing area should be prepared and maintained such as rolling, sweeping, mowing, filling foot holes and footholds etc.
- Covering the pitch. Due to the differences in bounce a dry or wet patch on the pitch causes there are rules governing how these should be covered. Wet patches may also put the bowler at risk of slipping.