MCC World Cricket Committee puts forward interesting recommendations for the betterment of the sports

MCC World Cricket Committee puts forward interesting recommendations for the betterment of the sports

Cricket World Today
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The MCC World Cricket committee has come up with innovative recommendations after the meeting in Mumbai on December 6 and 7. The committee discussed limiting the maximum width of the edge and depth of a bat, allowing catches off a fielder’s helmet, Giving umpires the power to send players off the field for grievous disciplinary violations, working towards making cricket an Olympic sport were some of the key outcomes of the meeting.

The meeting had prominent administrators in presence including BCCI president Anurag Thakur and ICC president Dave Richardson apart from MCC chairman Mike Brearly. If the recommendation get implemented it will hugely change the way game is played.

Chairman Mike Brearley thanked Anurag Thakur, BCCI President, for attending part of the meeting, and said: “It was good for the committee to meet Anurag Thakur and discuss a range of subjects.

“It was an interesting two-way discussion, which included many good questions from Anurag on the subject of the Laws of the game, which was timely given the nature of our agenda and decisions reached in Mumbai this week.”

Brearley also thanked David Richardson, ICC Chief Executive, for attending the meeting, and said: “David’s input at these meetings is invaluable, and we are grateful for his time and valuable contributions.”

The World Cricketing Committee consists of ex-cricketer Charlotte Edwards, Sourav Ganguly, Rod Marsh, Brendon McCullum, Ricky Ponting, Ramiz Raja, Kumar Sangakkara among a few other members

The MCC World Cricket committee met in Mumbai on 6 and 7 December. Its key findings were: 

  • Bat size edges and depths set to be limited at 40mm and 67mm respectively
  • Sending off in cricket close to inclusion in Laws of Cricket for first time
  • Ball tampering Law will not be changed
  • Committee split on possibility of introducing four-day Test Matches
  • ICC urged to continue to work towards introducing a World Test Championship and presenting the case for cricket at the Olympic Games
  • Law on ball striking a fielder’s worn helmet to be changed

Bat edges and depths will be limited in the Laws of Cricket

The MCC World Cricket committee has recommended specific bat size limitations to the Laws of Cricket be made to both the edges and depth of a bat. With the advent of T20 cricket, many have often debated over the sizes of the bat, stating that they provide a big advantage to the batsman. The World Cricket committee feels that the balance of the game has tilted too far in the batsman’s favour, and that the time has come to limit the sizes of bat edges and depths.

As a result, the main Committee of MCC will be asked to approve a limit to bat edges of 40mm and bat depths of 67mm (60mm for the depth plus an allowance of 7mm for a possible curve on the face of the bat). If approved, these changes will be implemented into the new code of the Laws of Cricket, which will be introduced on 1 October 2017.

Many of the top players’ bats have edges of between 38mm and 42mm, but there are some which have edges of up to 50mm, which was felt to be excessive and in need of restriction.

A bat gauge will ensure that the new limits are adhered to in the professional game, whilst a moratorium period, allowing players to use their existing bats which may be in breach of the Law, will be allowed in the amateur game. The length of the moratorium will be determined by local governing bodies and may vary for different levels of cricket.

Sending-off to be introduced into the Laws of Cricket

The MCC World Cricket committee recommends that umpires be given the power to eject cricketers from a game for serious disciplinary breaches. This move is quite prevalent on football where misbehavior is reported regularly. Cricket also witnesses many ugly incidents where players cross the limits and do not adhere with the laws of the game. While necessary action is always taken against such activities. But, so far, no one had thought of the idea of dismissing player form the game.

The World Cricket committee believes that the game must now include a mechanism to deal with the worst disciplinary offences during the match, and not subsequent to it as is presently the case. If approved, the ability to send a player off would therefore come into effect at all levels of the game from 1st October 2017.

The committee debated sanctions for lesser offences – including run penalties and sin bins – but did not believe anything should be introduced to the Laws, where it would be harder to achieve consistency of application around the world. However, MCC will look to devise such a system as an appendix to the Laws which governing bodies or leagues may wish to implement within their own playing regulations.

Subject to approval by the main MCC Committee, the new code of the Laws of Cricket will include a stipulation that umpires can remove a player from the field for the following:

  • threatening an umpire,
  • physically assaulting another player, umpire, official or spectator;
  • any other act of violence on the field of play.

The main reasons the World Cricket committee reached this conclusion were as follows:

Cricket is one of the only sports in which there is no ‘in-match’ punishment for poor behaviour.  A captain may ask his player to leave the field but the umpires have no such jurisdiction.  Taking an extreme example, a batsman could willfully hit a member of the fielding side with their bat, before carrying on to score a century to win the match for their team.

The Spirit of Cricket states there is to be no violence on the field yet there is nothing in the Laws giving the umpires power to punish it during the match.

Cricket therefore needs a punishment which will have an impact on the perpetrator and his or her team during that particular match.

It is unrealistic to think that every captain will discipline his or her players and ensure that the Spirit of Cricket is followed.  Almost all other sports have an umpire or referee who can take more drastic action.

Even if the sanction is rarely used, its presence will act as a suitable deterrent, thereby leading to an improvement in behaviour.

In MCC’s global consultation of cricket officials and administrators in 2015, an overwhelming majority of respondents supported the introduction of a system that gave more ‘in-match’ power to the umpires to deal with poor behaviour.

The decline in behaviour in the recreational game is having an adverse effect on the availability and willingness of people wanting to stand as umpires.  The ECB Association of Cricket Officials (ACO) recognises this as a real problem and a recent survey by Portsmouth University showed that 40% of British umpires said that episodes of abuse made them question whether or not to continue umpiring.

Law on ball tampering will not be changed

The World Cricket committee believes that no changes should be made to Law 42.3(a): The match ball – changing its condition.

The recent incident involving Faf Du Plessis brought this Law into focus but MCC’s position – supported by the World Cricket committee – is that the Law is clear, and to try to be too prescriptive by listing banned substances would be counterproductive, as something will be missed in the process of such drafting.

Law on ball striking a fielder’s worn helmet to change

Catches and stumpings will be permitted after the ball has struck a fielder’s worn helmet. Following discussions at all MCC cricket committees, the main Committee will now be asked to approve this change into the new code of the Laws of Cricket.

At present, catches and stumpings may be taken off a wicket-keeper’s pads, the use of which is optional, and so it seems unfair that they should not be permitted after hitting a helmet, the wearing of which is often compulsorily at many levels of the game.

It is felt that balls rebounding off a fielder’s helmet could equally help or hinder the fielding side and so the suggestion that rebounds off the helmet make catches easier should be disregarded.

This change for the caught Law would include a ball becoming lodged or trapped in the grille of a fielder’s helmet, in the same way as it is caught if it gets trapped between the wicket-keeper’s pads or in a fielder’s sweater or pocket.

Committee split on possibility of four-day Tests

The MCC World Cricket committee debated the possibility of introducing a trial of four-day Test Matches, in an attempt to streamline the cricketing calendar, and all the pros and cons associated with the idea.

Historically, the last full series involving four-day Tests was played between New Zealand and Pakistan in 1972/73, whilst the England v Australia Test at the Oval in 1975 was scheduled for six days.

The committee was evenly split on the subject, with the arguments for and against put forward as follows:

Pros

Clear scheduling for all stakeholders (TV, fans, players), with every Test played Thursday to Sunday on a weekly cycle.

Greater crowds likely in grounds and more viewers on television for the last two days of the matches.

Given that the Boards want guaranteed cricket on both days of a weekend, ideally towards the end of the game, this model makes scheduling easier and will allow tours to be shorter.

Shorter tours would mean that less cricket would need to take place out of each country’s regular season, meaning fewer rain interruptions.

Players would have to speed up the over rates, with suspensions for captains not meeting the required targets (though DRS does slow things down).  Spinners might need to be bowled more.

Play would be likely to change to a more attacking style, which might help to arrest the dwindling crowds in many countries.

Clearer scheduling for grounds in relation to staffing and operational costs, with most Tests running the full four days.

Broadcasters need only to pay for 4 days’ match costs, rather than 5, plus their schedules are more freed up for more lucrative limited overs cricket.

Evidence suggests that there would be no loss of revenue from broadcasters or sponsors if the Tests were shortened.

Cons

Likelihood of more drawn matches, especially those that are rain-affected, given that some matches are played in the rainy season.

The dynamic of Tests would change and the statistics would be less comparable with history, particularly if limits were placed on the duration of the teams’ first innings, which has been mooted.

There could be more ‘doctored’ pitches to get results within 4 days, particularly if allied to increased context.

It should not need a shift to 4 day Tests to speed up the over rates.  Many sides struggle to bowl 90 overs in six and a half hours, so it is unrealistic to think they would bowl many more in a longer day.  Any additional overs are likely to be bowled by part-time bowlers.

It might lead to more ‘manufactured’ games, with declaration bowling and cheap runs on offer.

The better team would have less chance of winning; the weaker team would have more chance of escaping with a draw.

With people increasingly more time-poor, it is unrealistic to expect spectators to want to see even longer days at a Test match.

The Committee will be interested to hear the thoughts from all of the game’s stakeholders – governing bodies, players, cricket fans, sponsors and broadcasters – and plans to revisit this subject at its next meeting in July.

Olympics the best way for growing the game worldwide

The committee reaffirmed its belief that cricket should embrace the concept of playing T20 in the Olympic Games.

With the prospect of applying to become a participating sport for 2024 still on the table, the committee encourages the ICC to work as hard as possible to see the game introduced to the Olympics.

The committee is encouraged to hear that a strategy is being written by ICC to look at the development of the game in both the US and China, but believes that the single most effective way cricket can grow around the world is by being included in the Olympics. The committee, therefore, asks all members of the ICC to work together to present its case for inclusion to the IOC.

A Conference-style World Test Championship should be pursued

The committee hopes that all ICC Full Member countries will be persuaded to instigate a World Test Championship.

Whilst previously supporting the idea of a two-divisional, promotion/relegation Championship, the committee heard an update from David Richardson on the developing proposal to introduce a conference-style competition to the longest form of the game.

The committee encourages ICC to continue this work and, ultimately, to persuade its Members to introduce such a system. The last six months has seen some excellent, competitive Test cricket played around the world, but with the rankings system as they are, and with the lower-ranked nations starting from such a long way behind, getting to the top seems almost unattainable. A conference system, with all teams starting from scratch, gives the lower-ranked teams more hope of toppling the best nations and will help to stimulate interest and proper context in what is the ultimate form of the game.

The next meeting of the MCC World Cricket committee will take place at Lord’s on Monday 3 and Tuesday 4 July 2017, and will include a mini-conference, with speakers from the MCC World Cricket committee past and present, providing an opportunity for MCC Members and guests to debate and discuss some of the big issues in the game.