Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The first codified laws of cricket -1744

A couple of years ago I came across a most interesting book which I bought 2nd hand in Alnwick Northumberland. It was edited by Neville Cardus and John Arlott and consists of reproductions of cricket prints. In an introduction Neville Cardus reproduces the first codified laws of cricket from 1744. Others I have shared this with since have been equally entranced and fascinated by the clarity of thinking and the essence of fair play that permeates. I hope you too will read and appreciate why the phrase "its just not cricket" still has meaning to this day.

The First Codified Rules of Cricket - 1744

Laws for Ye Bowlers 4 Balls and Over

Ye bowler must deliver ye ball with one foot behind ye Crease even with ye Wicket, and when he has bowled one ball or more shall bowl to ye number 4 before he changes Wickets, and he shall change but once in ye same innings.
He may order ye Player that is in at his Wicket to stand on which side of it he pleases at a reasonable distance.
If he delivers ye Ball with his hinder foot over ye bowling Crease, ye Umpire shall call No Ball, though she be struck, or ye Player is bowled out, which shall do without being asked, and no Person shall have any right to ask him.

Laws for ye Strikers, or those that are in

If ye wicket is Bowled , its Out.
If he strikes, or treads down, of falls himself upon ye Wicket in striking, but not in over running, its Out.
A stroke or nip over or under his Batt, or upon his hands, but not arms, if ye Ball be held before she touches ye ground, though she be hug’d to the body, its Out.
If in striking both his feet are over ye popping Crease and his wicket put down, except his Batt is down within, its Out.
If he runs out of his ground to hinder a catch, its Out.
If a ball is nipp’d up and he strikes her again, wilfully, before she comes to ye Wicket, its Out.
If ye Players have cross’d each other, he that runs for ye Wicket that is put down is Out. If they are not cross’d he that returns is Out.

Batt Foot or Hand over ye Crease

If in running a notch ye Wicket is struck down by a throw, before his foot hand or Batt is over ye popping Crease, or a stump hit by ye Ball though ye Bail was down, its Out, but if ye Bail is down before, he that catches ye Ball must strike a Stump out of ye ground, Ball in hand, then its Out.
If ye Striker touches or takes up ye Ball before she is lain quite still unless asked by ye Bowler or Wicket-keeper, its Out.
When ye Ball has been in hand by one of ye Keepers or Stopers, and ye Player has been at home, He may go where he pleases till ye next ball is bowled.
If either of ye Strikers is cross’d in his running ground designedly, which design must be determined by the Umpires, N.B. The Umpire(s) may order that Notch to be scored.
When ye Ball is hit up, either of ye Strikers may hinder ye catch in his running ground, or if she’s hit directly across ye wickets, ye other Player may place his body anywhere within ye swing of his Batt, so as to hinder ye Bowler from catching her, but he must neither strike at her nor touch her with his hands.
If a Striker nips a ball up just before him, he may fall before his Wicket, or pop down his Batt before she comes to it, to save it.
Ye Bail hanging on one Stump, though ye Ball hit ye Wicket, its Not Out.
Laws for Wicket Keepers

Ye Wicket Keepers shall stand a reasonable distance behind ye Wicket, and shall not move till ye Ball is out of ye Bowlers hand, and shall not by any noise incommode ye Striker, and if his hands knees foot or head be over or before ye Wicket, though ye Ball hit it, it shall not be Out.

Laws for ye Umpires

To allow 2 minutes for each Man to come in when one is out, and 10 minutes between each Hand.
To mark ye Ball that it may not be changed.
They are sole judges of all Outs and Ins, of all fair and unfair play, of frivolous delays, of all hurts, whether real or pretended, and are discretionally to allow what time they think proper before ye Game goes on again.
In case of a real hurt to a Striker, they are to allow another to come in and ye Person hurt to come in again, but are not to allow a fresh Man to play, on either Side, on any account.
They are sole judges of all hindrances, crossing ye Players in running, and standing unfair to strike, and in any case of hindrances may order a Notch to be scored.
They are not to order any Man out unless appealed to by any one of ye Players.
(These Laws are to ye Umpires Jointly)
Each Umpire is sole judge of all Nips and Catches, Ins and Outs, good or bad Runs, at his own Wicket, and his determination shall be absolute, and he shall not be changed for another Umpire without ye consent of both Sides.
When 4 balls are bowled he is to call Over.
(These Laws are Separately)
When both Umpires shall call Play, 3 times ‘ tis at ye peril of giving ye Game from them that refuse to Play.

The observant student, considering the above first written Constitution of Cricket, will note that there is no reference to leg-before-wicket. Maybe the game was all the better for the lack of this rule. - Neville Cardus in The Noblest Game.

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