MCC to review short-pitched bowling laws in Tests, proposes extension of saliva ban

The Marylebone Cricket Club, the custodian of laws of the game, said in a statement on Monday that the MCC Cricket Committee met virtually earlier in the day to discuss and review a few laws of the sport, including short-pitched bowling, Decision Review System, saliva ban apart from the future of World Test Championship.

Bouncers to lower-order batsmen discussed

The MCC Cricket Committee will embark on a global consultation drive and take a call on whether these laws need changes as the sport continues to evolve.

The MCC, in a statement, said its Cricket Committee, headed by chairman Mike Gatting, will take views from across the globe on whether the Law relating to short-pitched deliveries is fit for the modern game.

There are important aspects to consider in the consultation, namely the balance between bat and ball; whether or not concussion should be recognised as a different injury to any other sustained; changes which are specific to particular sectors of the game – e.g. junior cricket; and whether or not lower-order batsmen should be given further protection than the Laws currently allow.

The MCC also said that the members unanimously agreed that short-pitched bowling is an integral part of the game at the elite level. Surveys will be distributed to in March 2021 to “speific groups” identified to take part in the exercise and feedback will be taken into account before taking a call on whether or not to change laws around short-pitched bowling. A decision will be made public by early 2022.

Saliva ban to be extended?

The MCC Cricket Committee also proposed the extension on the ban on using saliva to shine the cricket ball as it said the ICC Cricket Committee recommendation will be in place in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Since the regulations were introduced, the committee has been closely monitoring the application of only sweat on the ball in relation to the balance of the game. There were some fears raised initially that prohibiting the use of saliva may make conditions too friendly to batsmen,” the statement read.

The committee debated prohibiting the use of saliva on the ball on a permanent basis and whilst there was a significant level of support for such a recommendation, some members felt that eliminating the use of saliva on a permanent basis is premature, and that it may be possible to allow its use once again in a post-Covid world.

MCC Cricket Committee discusses contentious umpire’s call

Umpire’s call in the Decision Review System has been a hot topic of debate in the recent past with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar raising concerns about the efficiency of the system used.

The committee debated the use of ‘Umpire’s Call’ for LBW decisions made via the Decision Review System, which some members felt was confusing to the watching public, particularly when the same ball could either be Out or Not out depending on the on-field umpire’s original decision. They felt it would be simpler if the original decision was disregarded on review, and that there was a simple Out or Not out, with no Umpire’s Call.

The ‘hitting zone’ of the stumps would still be retained, which had to be hit by at least 50% of the ball for an Out decision. If such a protocol was introduced, they felt it should also include a reduction to one unsuccessful review per team, or for the relevant review to be lost irrespective of its outcome.

Other members were satisfied with the current system, feeling that it was important to retain the human element of the on-field umpire’s decision, which takes into account the ‘benefit of the doubt’ that has existed in umpires’ decisions for many years. They felt that supporters did understand the concept of ‘Umpire’s Call’.

The future of World Test Championship

As we close in on the final of the inaugural cycle of the World Test Championship (2019 to 2021) and head towards the next cycle which will be played from 2021 to 2023, the MCC committee discussed the changes needed to enhance the status of the WTC.

Some of the broader suggestions include a more simplified points system, a clear window in the Future Tours Programme for matches to take place, and the marketing of the tournament to make it easier for supporters to understand.

Some of the other key discussion points include the idea to explore specialist TV umpires and the disproportionate amount of women’s cricket played since the advent of the pandemic when compared to men’s cricket.

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