The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has concluded that changing the restrictions of short-pitched bowling is not necessary, thus allowing bouncers to remain. In an over, the ICC permits two bouncers up to head height.
“MCC can confirm that after extensive research in the area, the outcome is that there will not be a change in Law. However, the Club will continue to be vigilant on this matter and to educate players and officials on the risks of concussion, notably when remaining on the field after a head strike which could be concussive,” MCC said in an official statement.
The conclusion is based on the fact that current regulations protect hitters, even those of inferior talent, while still providing appropriate deterrents for bowlers, such as the imposition of a No ball penalty and subsequent suspension.
“The consultation reached out to many different stakeholders in the game. The data collected was then debated by various committees and sub-committees within the Club before the decision was reached,” an MCC spokesman told Cricbuzz.
MCC, the game’s guardians, started on a mission in February 2021 to determine if the regulations are appropriate for the present game, as helmet strikes had increased in comparison to pre-helmet days.
The MCC has pointed out that the present laws properly allow umpires to intervene and have placed the onus on them to utilise their judgement.
Short-pitch bowling is now permitted up to head height, according to the rules. Under the Laws, anything above head height is a No ball.
The Club conducted a poll of stakeholders at all levels to determine if any revisions to the Laws should be made. The safety component of such deliveries will continue to be examined, given the frequency of helmet strikes is on the rise compared to pre-helmet days.
Other important aspects of the consultation included the balance between bat and ball, whether or not concussion should be recognised as a distinct injury from any other, changes specific to specific sectors of the game, such as junior cricket, and whether or not lower-order batters should be given more protection than the Laws currently provide.
“The results of the consultation suggest that whilst no Law change would be made, the Law as it currently exists – to offer protection to less-skilled batters if deemed necessary – should be exercised if the umpire believes that any batter is at risk of being injured,” MCC stated.
Law 41.6: Bowling of dangerous and unfair short-pitched deliveries
41.6.1 The bowling of short-pitched deliveries is dangerous if the bowler’s end umpire considers that, taking into consideration the skill of the striker, by their speed, length, height, and direction they are likely to inflict physical injury on him/her. The fact that the striker is wearing protective equipment shall be disregarded.
41.6.2 The bowler’s end umpire may consider that the bowling of short-pitched deliveries, although not dangerous under 41.6.1, is unfair if they repeatedly pass above the head height of the striker standing upright at the crease.
41.6.3 As soon as the umpire decides that the bowling of short-pitched deliveries has become dangerous under 41.6.1, or unfair under 41.6.2, he/she shall call and signal No ball. When the ball is dead, the umpire shall caution the bowler, indicating that this is a first and final warning, and inform the other umpire, the captain of the fielding side and the batters of what has occurred.
This caution shall apply to that bowler throughout the innings.
Jamie Cox, MCC Assistant Secretary (Cricket and Operations) said: “As with any potential change in the Laws, the key aspect is to ensure that it is appropriate for all levels of the game. The results of the consultation show that short-pitched bowling, within the Laws, is an important part of the makeup of the sport and in fact, to change it would materially change the game.
“However, given that the Laws allow for umpires to intervene should they believe that there is a safety consideration with the batter on strike, we encourage them to use their discretion and ensure that any risk of injury is minimised.
“We will also continue to educate players and officials about the risks of concussion through our website and eLearning portal, with the aim of the Laws consistently being applied in a safe manner.”
If the infraction is repeated, the current Laws not only provide protection for hitters of inferior ability but also impose a punishment of a No ball and the withdrawal of the offending bowler from bowling in that innings.