Laws of Cricket

Laws Of Cricket

The laws of cricket are a set of rules framed by the Marylebone Cricket Club which serve to standardise the format of cricket matches across the world to ensure uniformity and fairness.

New Laws of Cricket come into effect from Tuesday 1 October 2013, as MCC releases the 5th Edition of the 2000 Code - which features some significant changes.

The most high profile change is a new No ball Law (Law 24.6) which makes it a No ball if the bowler breaks the wicket during his delivery stride.

The MCC Committee announced that the Law would be changed in February of this year and the ICC brought the ruling in as a playing regulation for the international summer.

Other changes to the Laws include limiting being out Handled ball to just the striker as he is playing the ball or immediately after; any other illegal handling of the ball by either batsman will be given out as Obstructing the field.

Noteworthy changes to the Laws:
  • A new No ball Law (24.6) making it a No ball if the bowler breaks the wicket during his delivery stride.
  • A batsman with a runner is now protected if he is ‘stumped’ off a No ball. Previously, he would have been out run out.
  • The moment at which a batsman can be out Handled the ball has been limited to when he is playing the ball or its immediate aftermath, i.e. when defending his wicket. Consequently, only the striker can be out this way. Any subsequent handling by either batsman will be subject to Obstructing the field.
  • Hit the ball twice – it is no longer possible to score any runs after making a lawful second strike (in defence of his wicket). Previously, runs could be taken after a lawful second strike only after an overthrow had occurred, but this option of run scoring has been removed completely.
  • Practice on the field – players are now allowed to bowl a ball to a fielder as a ‘loosener’, even if it bounces on the ground, as long as it does not waste time or is not being done to damage the ball.
In order to help fans, umpires and officials understand the reasoning behind the Law changes and how they will be implemented, MCC has put together an exhaustive document, which can be viewed on this site.

The previous (4th) Edition of the 2000 Code came into effect in October 2010 and has been in place up to today. The 5th Edition is now available to view on this website.

Queries and clarifications relating to the Laws of Cricket can be answered via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The MCC website is on

Today's Laws

The Marylebone Cricket Club is the framer of the Laws of Cricket, the rules governing play of the game. The Laws are intended to apply to all two innings matches; the International Cricket Council has implemented "Standard Playing Conditions for Test Matches" and "Standard Playing Conditions for One Day Internationals" to augment the Laws of Cricket. Similarly, each cricketing country has implemented Playing Conditions to govern domestic cricket. Note that the Laws do not provide for One Day or Limited Overs cricket; these modifications have been made by the Playing Conditions for One Day Internationals.

The Laws are organised into a Preface, a Preamble, forty-two Laws, and four appendices. The Preface relates to the Marylebone Cricket Club and the history of the Laws. The Preamble is a new addition and is related to "the Spirit of the Game;" it was introduced to discourage the increasing practices of ungentlemanly conduct.

History of the Laws

Since 1774 the laws have always governed:

  • Decision of who bats first: This has not changed much and has always been decided by the toss of a coin.
  • Dimensions of the pitch and location of popping crease.
  • Length of stumps and bails.
  • Weight of cricket ball.
  • Balls per over.
  • No ball rule (illegal delivery).
  • Rules of dismissal of batsman.
  • Time allowed for next batsman to come in after a dismissal.
They were first printed in book form in 1775. The laws have changed a lot since then but the basic form of the game remains the same.

Important Historical changes to the laws

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".
1744 Revision of the Laws 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 Code of Laws produced by the Marylebone Cricket Club was adopted on 30 May.
1809 Weight of ball further standardised from between 5 and 6 ounces (142 to 170 g) to between 5.5 and 5.75 ounces (156 to 163 g).
Width of cricket bat standardised for the first time.
Length of stumps increased from 22 to 24 inches and bails from 6 to 7 inches.
Leg before wicket rule introduced.
Importance of umpires further enhanced.
1829 Length of stumps increased from 24 inches to 27 inches (559 to 686 mm) and bails from 7 inches to 8 inches (178 to 203 mm). Thickness of stumps mentioned for first time.
"Throwing" mentioned for first time.
1835 A new Code of Laws was approved by the MCC Committee on 19 May.
1864 Overarm bowling permitted for the first time.
1884 New version of Laws approved at the MCC on 21 April
Number of players formalised for the first time (eleven).
Follow-on rule introduced.
Size of ball formalised for first time.
1889 Length of an over increased from four balls to five balls.
1900 Length of an over increased to six balls.
1922 Variation allowed in the length of the over (Australian overs to be eight balls).
1947 A new Code was approved by the MCC on 7 May
Length of an over to be six or eight balls according to "prior agreement" between the captains.
1979 After a number of minor revisions of the 1947 Code, a new Code was approved at an MCC Special General Meeting on 21 November. This is known as the 1980 code. Imperial units now followed by metric units.
1992 A second edition of the 1980 Code was produced.
2000 A new Code, which for the first time included a Preamble defining the Spirit of Cricket was approved on 3 May. The code was rewritten into plain English and is more discursive than previous Codes.
Length of an over standardised at six balls for all matches.
Umpires allowed to award penalty runs for unfair play.
2003 A second version of the 2000 Code was produced incorporating necessary amendments arising from the application of the 2000 Code.

Laws of Cricket
The ACC has published the Laws of Cricket in some of Asia’s major indigenous languages.

Laws in Traditional Chinese (2007) Laws in Urdu (2008)
Laws in Bengali (2006) Laws in Gujarati (2009)
Laws in Malay (2007)