The MCC has confirmed that umpires will have the authority to send players off for serious breaches of behaviour under updated laws of the game which will be used from October 1, 2017.
They have also laid out the restrictions on bat sizes and there will be an amendment to the run out law to protect a batsman whose bat has bounced in the air once they have crossed the popping crease.
These new laws follow the recommendations of the MCC Cricket Committee from their meeting in Mumbai in early December.
An attempt to stamp out poor on-field behaviour at the lower levels of the game has led to a decision to bring in four levels of offences which the umpires can judge. The most serious, levels three and four, include temporarily or permanently removing a player from the game alongside a five-run penalty.
“We felt the time had come to introduce sanctions for poor player behaviour and research told us that a growing number of umpires at grass roots level were leaving the game because of it,” John Stephenson, the MCC’s head of cricket, said. “Hopefully these sanctions will give them more confidence to handle disciplinary issues efficiently, whilst providing a deterrent to the players.”
A level one breach will begin with a warning, followed by a five-run penalty for a second offence, while level two will come with an immediate five-run penalty.
Speaking in December, Ricky Ponting said focus had to be given to the lower levels of the game. “The reason we are talking about making significant changes to lower level cricket is because it has got completely out of hand down there,” he said. “We have got to the stage that something had to be done to prevent these things happening.”
However, if the ICC accepts all the law amendments for the international game – which MCC said they expected them to do – an international cricketer could, in theory, be sent off the field.
Of more immediate consequence to some international players could be the stipulation relating to bat sizes. They have been set at 108mm in width, 67mm in depth with 40mm edges. Ponting said in December that some bats have edges up to 50mm which is what was causing concern. A bat gauge will be used at professional level while a moratorium period – which will vary between governing bodies – will allow amateur players to continue with bats that breach the new limits.
“The bat size issue has been heavily scrutinised and discussed in recent years,” Stephenson said. “We believe the maximum dimensions we have set will help redress the balance between bat and ball, while still allowing the explosive, big hitting we all enjoy.”
In the batsman’s favour is a change to the run out law to mean they will not be given out if they have grounded the bat over the crease and it subsequently bounces in the air prior to the stumps are broken.
An MCC statement said. “If the bat (held by the hand) or another part of the batsman’s person is grounded beyond the popping crease and this contact with the ground is subsequently lost when the wicket is put down, the batsman will be protected from being run out if he/she is running or diving and has continued forward momentum towards the stumps and beyond.”
Meanwhile, the number of dismissals will be reduced from 10 to nine with ‘Handled the ball’ being written into ‘Obstructed the field’.
The updated laws will also be written in language that is neutral to both sexes for the first time with use of he/she and generic terms such as ‘fielder’ and ‘bowler’ although batsman will remain as it is seen as equally applicable to the men’s and women’s game.