Cricket rules

Cricket has never stopped evolving: from round-arm bowling becoming the standard, to the 15-degree rule for arm flexion while bowling. From the number of balls per over to the specifications of equipment - ranging from glove-webbing to bat handles - almost every aspect of the game is regulated. New rules are frequently put in place - especially in the shorter forms of the game, as in the case of Powerplays, free hits, and the tweaking of field restrictions.

Feb 22, 2021: MCC to consult on changes to bouncer regulations | Dec 6, 2020: Umpires need to call a dead ball if a batsman tries to switch-hit

The Covid-19 hiatus

The Covid-19 pandemic hit sport in March 2020, forcing games to be played behind closed doors, and then getting cricket called off altogether. The PSL was suspended before the semi-finals, and all cricket had ground to a halt worldwide by March 17, 2020, with the men's T20 World Cup pushed to 2021, the IPL to later in the year, and the launch of the Hundred deferred to 2021. International cricket only returned in July, when West Indies played in England in a biosecure bubble under the ICC's interim post-pandemic regulations, which banned the use of saliva on the ball and provided for Covid-19 substitute players.

Feb 8, 2021: CSA asks ICC to intervene after Australia's decision to pull out of South Africa tour | Feb 9, 2021: Heinrich Klaasen's brush with Covid-19: 'Could not run 20-30 metres without heart rate going up too high'

Corruption in cricket

Though betting on cricket was common in the 19th century, cricket's biggest match-fixing scandal was unearthed in 2000, when Hansie Cronje admitted he had accepted money to throw matches. Players from other countries were also implicated. Since then, even as cricket has gone about strengthening its anti-corruption mechanisms, instances of fixing have cropped up frequently. In 2010, three leading Pakistan players were banned and jailed on fixing charges. In 2013, three Indian players, among them Sreesanth, were arrested for spot-fixing in the IPL.

Jan 26, 2021: Mohammad Naveed and Shaiman Anwar found guilty of corruption | Oct 13, 2020: Verdict reserved in landmark Saleem Malik case


Despite cricket's multicultural history, the game has long been blighted by racism. Racial segregation denied late 19th century fast bowler Krom Hendricks a chance to play for South Africa. In the 1960s, the Basil D'Oliveira affair precipitated South Africa's 22-year sporting isolation for its apartheid policies. Tony Greig's infamous statement in 1976 about making West Indies "grovel" is well known, as is Dean Jones casual, off-mic "terrorist" remark aimed at Hashim Amla, and the Monkeygate scandal of 2008. More recently, the Black Lives Movement has forced a reckoning within the game, with boards committing to change as cricketers have spoken up about their continuing experiences with racism and marginalisation.

Oct 27, 2020: 'Time to stop talking and do something about it' - Azeem Rafiq | Nov 24, 2020: South Africa decision to not kneel a 'missed opportunity'

Umpiring and technology

Questions of how the use of technology sits beside umpires have sprung to life frequently since the late 20th century. The advent of the DRS in 2008 was controversial at the start, but a decade on, most had accepted it was there to stay. Increasingly the rules of the game have been tweaked to allow for referrals to the third umpire on matters that were previously the purview of the on-field officials.

Aug 15, 2020: England v Pakistan stoppages: Cricket still in the dark ages over issue of bad light | Dec 31, 2020: How 2020 made us fall in love with cricket all over again

Technology in cricket

For a game as steeped in tradition as cricket is, the question of how much to rely on technology is a perennial - and at certain points over the years has proved an increasingly complex one, as new technologies have been unveiled. The Decision Review System, introduced in 2008, took about a decade to gain widespread acceptance - if not always trust and support across the board among players and administrators.

Jul 21, 2020: Tech it and go | Nov 6, 2020: Seven ways to improve T20, starring high-res cameras, shared meals, and more

The future of ODIs

The growth of Twenty20 cricket has raised serious questions over the utility of the 50-over game, and concerns for its future. Though it is still the currency of the two main ICC tournaments, some boards have already shortened their domestic format. Suggestions for change have been plenty and even the ICC is thinking about tweaking the format.

Jun 26, 2020: Ross Taylor: One-day World Cup could have joint winners | May 26, 2018: Four things next week's ICC meeting should look to address


Over the years the endeavour has been to take pitches out of the equation for ODIs and Twenty20s, by making them flat and uniform, so that the toss does not play a crucial part in the shorter format. In Tests, though, the preparation of the pitch and its durability are much more significant, impacting the result and duration of the game. Quite naturally pitches and their preparation in the longer forms of the game evoke a lot of comment and often controversy.

Jun 23, 2020: Should the women's game use a shorter pitch and a smaller ball? | Jan 30, 2018: Nine deadly pitches


Players are barred, by Law 42.3, from rubbing the ball on the ground, interfering with its seam or surface, or using any implement that can alter the condition of the ball to thereby gain unfair advantage. There have been plenty of ugly incidents centring on accusations of ball-tampering through cricket's history: the John Lever "Vaseline" affair in 1976-77; the times England and New Zealand accused Pakistan of it in the early 1990s; Michael Atherton's admission that he used dirt to treat the ball against South Africa in 1994; and perhaps most infamously, the Oval Test of 2006 when Pakistan forfeited the match because they were accused of having tampered with the ball.

May 10, 2020: Change the ball-tampering and lbw laws | May 28, 2020: There is a simple alternative to using saliva on the ball


A 2003 European Union ruling on the right of a Slovakian handball player to play in Germany had a massive impact on English county cricket. It created an opening for players from countries with trade agreements with the EU (in effect South Africa, Zimbabwe and some Caribbean countries) to bypass the limits on overseas players and sign for counties. A trickle became a flood, and by 2008 there were more than 60 Kolpak cricketers in England, causing debate and acrimony between counties, with arguments that their presence weakened English cricket.

Apr 11, 2019: 'I want to make a big difference off the field because of all the stupid things I have done' | Dec 18, 2019: Life as a Kolpak