Big bats to be banned under new MCC rules

MCC to issue new Code of Laws, with changes to rules on bat thickness, Mankad dismissals, penalty runs and send-offs

Louis Cameron

7 March 2017, 01:43 PM AEST

Warner defends big bats

A host of international cricketers will be forced to trade in their current bats for slimmer models after the Marylebone Cricket Club announced an official limit has been placed on bat sizes.

The MCC today confirmed a new Code of Laws to be introduced in October 2017, with the thickness of bats to be restricted in a bid to "redress the balance between bat and ball" in cricket.

The new maximum permitted dimensions of a cricket bat will be 108mm in width, 67mm in depth with 40mm edges.

A bat gauge will be used to ensure the new limits are enforced in professional matches, while there will be a "moratorium period" for amateur cricketers, who will be allowed to continue wielding their existing blades that are in breach of the new rules.

Australia vice-captain David Warner is one top player whose bat will be outlawed under the new rule.

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The Australian newspaper reported last December that Warner's Twenty20 bat has a maximum depth of 85mm, 18mm more than the proposed new rule would allow.

"The bat size issue has been heavily scrutinised and discussed in recent years," the MCC’s head of cricket John Stephenson explained in a MCC statement.

"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."

Quick Single: Watson against proposed law change

The changes to the rule regarding bat sizes comes after a recommendation last July from the MCC's World Cricket committee, which includes cricket legends like Ricky Ponting, Kumar Sangakkara, Sourav Ganguly and Rod Marsh.

The MCC has also announced a change to protect batsmen from 'bouncing bat' run outs.

Once a batsman has grounded their bat beyond the popping crease but their "continued forward momentum towards the stumps" results in the willow losing contact with safe territory when the wicket is put down, the batsman will not be run out.

January: Wagner's 'bouncing bat' run-out

There has also been a change to the 'Mankad' rule, with the controversial dismissal set to become easier to execute after the MCC’s alteration.

Under the proposed change, if the non-striker is out of their crease "from the moment the ball comes into play to the instant when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball", the bowler will be within their rights to run them out.

Mankad controversy at Under-19 World Cup

The current version of the MCC Law states the bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to attempt to run out the non-striker. The change allows bowlers more leeway and means the non-strikers will need to be more vigilant when backing-up.

Umpires have also been granted new powers to remove players from the field or award penalty runs in a bid to prevent poor player behaviour.

Four levels with differing severity for offences have been laid out as guidelines for on-field officials, ranging from excessive appealing and dissent at the lower end of the scale, to physical violence at the highest end.

Quick Single: NZ coach calls for change to 'unfair' run-out law

Umpires will be able to award five penalty runs for less serious offences, and send players either permanently or temporarily off the ground for more threatening ones.

"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,” Stephenson said.

"Hopefully these sanctions will give them more confidence to handle disciplinary issues efficiently, whilst providing a deterrent to the players."

Another change announced by the MCC is a reduction in the number of ways a batsman can be given out, with the official modes of dismissals "reduced from from 10 to nine".

'Handled the ball', when a batsman "wilfully strikes the ball with a hand not holding the bat", no longer stands alone as an official way of going out.

The act of handling the ball is still not permitted, but it will now be given out as 'obstructing the field' instead.

The MCC’s new Code of Laws will also be gender neutral for the first time ever, with generic nouns like fielder and bowler to be used more frequently. The term ‘batsman’ will however continue to be used.

"The game of cricket has evolved a great deal since the last Code of Laws was written in 2000, so much so that MCC made changes to that Code on five separate occasions in the last 14 years,” Stephenson said.

"We felt the time was right for a new Code to tidy up many of the piecemeal changes made since 2000. The process has taken nearly three years and has involved significant consultation.

"We are very pleased with the outcome, which we believe reflects the continuing evolution of cricket."

Law changes announced by the MCC

* New restrictions on bat sizes

* Change to run out law regarding 'bouncing bats'

* Change to law regarding a Mankad

* Umpires granted greater powers to punish bad player behaviour

* 'Handled the ball' mode of dismissal now included under 'obstructing the field'

* Wording to be more general neutral