When it comes to cricketing laws, it is up to Marylebone Cricket Club to ensure that the game is smooth and played fairly, besides making it more entertaining for the fans. As a result, it formulates and discusses new rules to make the sport even better and entertaining for the fans before being adopted and introduced at the international level by the International Cricket Council.

On Monday, MCC conducted its first meet of the year, as it discussed the possibility of reworking three of the existing laws. The panel made up of former international skippers, coaches and officials discussed majorly having a permanent ban on saliva, alongside revising the umpire’s call in the Decision Review System and the bouncer laws.

Saliva ban
The ban on using saliva on the ball has been recently introduced as a preventive measure in the prevailing pandemic era to minimise the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus. Instead, the committee approved the use of sweat on the ball. While there were debates that it could make the conditions too friendly for the batsmen, it has somewhat been a success so far, resulting in possibly introducing a permanent saliva ban.

“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. Whilst proposing that the ICC playing regulation remains in place for the immediate future, the committee will continue to monitor the impact of the no-saliva regulation, and will also seek the view of current players before deciding whether or not proposing a change of Law would be appropriate at a later stage,” said MCC in a release.

Bouncers or short-pitched deliveries, generally above the waist or shoulder height, are deemed dangerous. Meanwhile, there is a limit on the number of such deliveries in international cricket per over. However, over the past few years, the frequency of the same has increased. Furthermore, Australian batsman Phil Hughes’ demise allowed MCC and ICC to introduce strict safety norms for the batsmen. Also, the Indians were at the receiving end during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy last month, when some batsmen suffered severe blows in Australia. Consequently, MCC is mulling reworking on the law and discuss if the deliveries are safe in the sport.

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“The committee discussed the Law and were unanimous that short-pitched bowling is a core part of the game, particularly at the elite level. There was also discussion on other aspects of the game at all levels, which may mitigate the risk of injury. They agreed to provide feedback during the consultation, which will begin with a survey that is due to be distributed in March 2021 to the specific groups identified to partake in the exercise,” stated MCC.

Umpire’s call
The umpire’s call in the DRS has also been a headache for some players and the fans. The law is in place to give a distinct advantage to the umpires during leg-before calls. If less than 50% of the ball is hitting the stumps, the decision then lies with the umpire, who can either deem it out or not out while the reviewing team retains the review. However, some have called for a transparent Out or Not Out call rather than giving the umpires an advantage.

“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. 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,” remarked MCC.

Other discussions
ICC World Test Championship: The ongoing WTC has been a success, with the final set to be played in June at Lord’s. Meanwhile, as for the next cycle of the tournament (2021-23), the committee is operating on having a simplified points system, along with a clear Future Tours Programme window and decent marketing strategy.
Host country umpire: “Whilst the move away from a necessity for neutral umpires was suggested, it was also recommended that a balance could be struck – such as using one host-country umpire and one neutral umpire as the on-field officials. This would ensure that umpires still had the opportunity to officiate away from their home country, improving their skills in the process,” MCC stated.