Printed copies of The Laws of Cricket with full notes and interpretations may be obtained from

Marylebone Cricket Club (Lord’s Shop), 
Lord's Cricket Ground
London, NW8 8QN 

Tel: 020-7289 5686

It is recommended that all Cricket Clubs, at all levels, should obtain a copy for reference. The full Laws can also be downloaded from the Lords website above.


The MCC's new revised version of the Laws of Cricket is effective from October 1st 2017.

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.

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 preface 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, now MCC then felt it right to put into words some clear guidelines, which help to maintain the unique character and enjoyment of the game.

For 2017 the MCC felt it was necessary to update the Laws in line with significant changes in attitudes toward such issues as gender equality and the interpretation of the Laws for those players and umpires who might not have English as their fiirst language. The 2017 Laws also take into account the need to address issues of Players' Conduct (which sadly have seen a decline in standards over the past two decades), in an attempt to stop players and umpires leaving the game as a consequence of poor player behaviour.


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".

1774/1786 Further revisions produced by "a Committee of Noblemen and Gentlemen of Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex,
               Middlesex and London at the Star and Garter". 
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 Cricket clubs worldwide approved important alterations at an MCC Special General Meeting on 21st April.

1947 The first modernisation of The Laws for the 20th Century was approved at an MCC Special General Meeting on 7th May.

1979 After five editions of the l947 Code, a further revision was approved at an MCC Special General Meeting on 21st November.

1992 A 2nd edition was produced, incorporating all the amendments which were approved during the intervening twelve years.
2000 The new version of The Laws intended for the 21st century was approved.

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.

(a) Enquiries must come from a League Committee, a Club Officer, an Umpires' Association, or by a School master/mistress.

(b) The incident on which a ruling is required must not be invented for disputation but must have actually occurred in play.

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


                    Effective from October 1st 2017 the significant changes to the 42 Laws are as follows:

  • Now written in language applying to all persons, regardless of gender. There are still 42 Laws but the Handled the Ball Law has been deleted, with its contents merged into Obstructing the Field. The numbering of the Laws has been revised. There is a new Law 42: Players’ Conduct , giving an in-match consequence for poor on-field behaviour. See below for details
  • The Lost Ball Law has been deleted and is now covered under Dead Ball.
  • Limits placed on the thickness of the edges and the overall depth of the bat.
  • The helmet is now regarded as part of the player, so batsmen can be caught if the ball lodges in the helmet or rebounds off the helmet when being worn by a player (including the wicketkeeper).
  • There is now no difference between fast or slow bowling with regard to above the waist no balls, all balls delivered above the waist are now no balls regardless of pace.
  • Injuries hope to be prevented in a new Law which allow mechanisms tethering the bails to the stumps.
  • Bowling of deliberate front foot No Balls to be treated in same way as deliberate full-tosses.
  • The Law regarding running out the non-striker has been altered.The non-striker can now be run out by the bowler at any time up to the point where he would normally release the ball. No "warning" is required or should be expected.
  • 'Bouncing bat’ Law changed, substitutes now allowed to keep wicket and concept of penalty time amended.



There are 4 levels of sanctions.

  • Level 1 offences:- wilfully mistreating any part of the cricket ground, equipment or implements used in the match - showing dissent at an umpire’s decision by word or action - using language that, in the circumstances, is obscene, offensive or insulting- making an obscene gesture- appealing excessively - advancing towards an umpire in an aggressive manner when appealing - any other misconduct, the nature of which is, in the opinion of the umpires, equivalent to a Level 1 offence.
    Following an official warning, a second Level 1 offence will result in five penalty runs being awarded to the opposing team. Report sent to League.
  • Level 2 offences:- showing serious dissent at an umpire’s decision by word or action- making inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with another player- throwing the ball at a player, umpire or another person in an inappropriate and dangerous manner- using language or gesture to another player, umpire, team official or spectator that, in the circumstances, is obscene or of a serious insulting nature- or any other misconduct, the nature of which is, in the opinion of the umpires, equivalent to a Level 2 offence.                                          Without an initial warning, five penalty runs awarded to the opposition, repeated on every subsequent occasion. Report sent to League.
  • Level 3 offences:-  intimidating an umpire by language or gesture - threatening to assault a player or any other person except an umpire.                                                                                                                                   Without an initial warning the offending player is suspended from play for a number of overs, depending on the length of the match (suggested ¼ of the total innings overs), plus five penalty runs to the opposition. Report sent to League.
  • Level 4 offences:- threatening to assault an umpire - making inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with an umpire - physically assaulting a player or any other person- committing any other act of violence. 
    Offending player is removed from the field for the rest of the match, plus five penalty runs to
    the opposition. Report sent to League.

For all offences under Level 1-4, the umpire will call Time and summon the relevant captain (including the batting captain if he is not on the field of play), who will be informed of the breach of Law and the associated penalty. If appropriate, the umpire will instruct the captain to remove the offending player from the field.

In the, hopefully unlikely, event that a Captain refuses to comply with the umpires’ instructions under Level 3 or 4 then the Umpires will consider awarding the match if one Captain is involved or abandoning the match if both captains refuse to comply and it is impossible to resolve matters. This is covered in Law 42.6.

Law 42.7 clarifies that, if it is the wicket-keeper who is suspended or sent off, a substitute will not be allowed to keep-wicket. It also makes clear that, if the Level 3 or 4 offence is committed by a substitute or a runner, the player for whom they are fielding / running will be affected by the punishment.

For all Levels a Report must be sent to the appropriate Governing Body (in our case the League Committee), who will decide if further action should be taken.


This system is designed to give the umpires on-field penalties to tackle poor behaviour. However, as with other penalties under the Laws, these new sanctions are intended as deterrents, the presence of which should reduce the frequency of poor behaviour, so that they would only rarely be applied.


Umpires: New signals for Level 3 and Level 4 offences have been created, which are covered in Law 2.13. The signal for each offence is made to the scorers, not the player, and starts with the umpire putting an arm out to the side of the body and repeatedly raising it and lowering it. For Level 3 offences, this is followed by raising both hands, all fingers spread, to shoulder height, palms facing towards the scorers. For Level 4 offences, the first part is followed by raising an index finger, held at shoulder height, to the side of the body.


ALL CLUBS, CAPTAINS, PLAYERS AND UMPIRES SHOULD ENSURE THAT THE NEW LAWS ARE UNDERSTOOD SO THAT WE CAN IMPLEMENT THEM IN THE 2018 SEASON. This is especially true with regard to Law 42: Players Conduct explained above. Umpires will have to judge what is just "banter" and reasonable recation to umpires' decisions, and what "crosses the line" into the sanctionable offences (above). We all hope that the MCC desire that these sanctions should be seen as deterrents will indeed be the case.

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