Spirit of cricket

What is the Spirit of Cricket?

The laws of cricket clearly explain the expectations of how participants will behave on the field, and they also outline sanctions should these expectations not be met.

The below explanation is taken from the MCC Laws of Cricket, which is universally applied across all countries and cultures.


Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its Laws but also within the Spirit of the Game.

Any action which is seen to abuse this spirit causes injury to the game itself. The major responsibility for ensuring the spirit of fair play rests with the captains.

  1. There are two Laws which place the responsibility for the team's conduct firmly on the captain.

Responsibility of captains
The captains are responsible at all times for ensuring that play is conducted within the Spirit of the Game as well as within the Laws.

Player’s conduct
In the event of a player failing to comply with instructions by an umpire, or criticising by word or action the decisions of an umpire, or showing dissent, or generally behaving in a manner which might bring the game into disrepute, the umpire concerned shall in the first place report the matter to the other umpire and to the player's captain, and instruct the latter to take action.

  1. Fair and unfair play

According to the Laws the umpires are the sole judges of fair and unfair play. The umpires may intervene at any time and it is the responsibility of the captain to take action where required.

  1. The umpires are authorised to intervene in cases of:
    • Time wasting
    • Damaging the pitch
    • Dangerous or unfair bowling
    • Tampering with the ball
    • Any other action that they consider to be unfair
  1. The Spirit of the Game involves respect for:
    • Your opponents
    • Your own captain and team
    • The role of the umpires
    • The game and its traditional values
  1. It is against the Spirit of the Game:
    • To dispute an umpire's decision by word, action or gesture
    • To direct abusive language towards an opponent or umpire
    • To indulge in cheating or any sharp practice, for instance:
      (a) to appeal knowing that the batsman is not out
      (b) to advance towards an umpire in an aggressive manner when appealing
      (c) to seek to distract an opponent either verbally or by harassment with persistent clapping or unnecessary noise under the guise of enthusiasm and motivation of one's own side
  1. Violence

There is no place for any act of violence on the field of play.

  1. Players

Captains and umpires together set the tone for the conduct of a cricket match. Every player is expected to make an important contribution to this.

The players, umpires and scorers in a game of cricket may be of either gender and the Laws apply equally to both.

The use, throughout the text, of pronouns indicating the male gender is purely for brevity. Except where specifically stated otherwise, every provision of the Laws is to be read as applying to women and girls equally as to men and boys.

The Spirit of Cricket in Australian Domestic Competitions

The importance of the Spirit of Cricket is recognised in Australia with the Richie Benaud Spirit of Cricket Awards, which are awarded each season to the interstate men’s and women’s teams who are voted as having played in the best spirit and with the greatest respect for the game.

The umpires cast votes for each team following every match using a 0-12 scale, 0 being very poor and 12 being exceptionally good.

The full criteria of how the umpires vote for the Richie Benaud Spirit of Cricket awards is outlined in the below extract from the umpire voting form:

Umpires’ Report on Match

Spirit of Cricket Award

Please circle the rating of each team for the Spirit of Cricket Award using the following scores.  The rating is to be determined between both umpires. The umpires shall award scores of 4, 3, 2, 1 or 0 in assessing a team’s Spirit of Cricket for a match in the following categories;

  1. Respect for opponents
    Did the players AND team officials demonstrate respect under The Preamble for their opponents?
  2. Respect for the role of the umpires
    Did the players AND team officials demonstrate respect under The Preamble for the role of the umpire? Did the players accept the umpire’s decisions throughout the match? Was there any undue pressure placed on the umpire?
  3. Respect for the game
    Did the players AND team officials demonstrate respect under The Preamble for the game’s traditional values?

A team can be awarded up to 4 points for each of the above categories, therefore the MAXIMUM total score per match is 12.

NOTE: this includes players AND team officials

Vote Descriptors

Votes will be allocated on the following basis in each category:

  • 4 points Well above expectations – multiple examples of positive behaviour
  • 3 points Above expectations – limited examples of positive behaviour
  • 2 points Met expectations 
  • 1 point Below expectations – limited examples of negative behaviour
  • 0 points Well below expectations – multiple examples of negative behaviour 

Met Expectations is that a good level of respect is shown to all game participants throughout the match, including the post-match meeting.

The following specific areas/behaviours would be considered in each area;

  1. Respect for opponents 
    • Behaviour which was demonstrated included:
    • Acknowledgement of milestones
    • Courtesy and professionalism by captain/team
    • Demeanour of any interaction
    • Walking when a fielder claims a catch without needing an umpire’s decision
    • Not claiming a catch where confusion exists
    • “Sledging” 
  1. Respect for the role of the umpires
    • Behaviour which was demonstrated included:
    • Communication with officials, including verbally
    • Discussion of decisions, including dissent
    • Excessive appealing 
    • Advancing the umpire when appealing
    • Appealing when knowing is not out
    • Actions by captain when required
  1. Respect for the game
    • Behaviour which was demonstrated included:
    • Interaction with match officials (curators, scorers, staff, media etc.)
    • Respect for venue and facilities
    • Role of the captain
    • Provision of Over Rates
    • Application of CA Policies & Playing Conditions
    • Audible obscenity

Additional Votes

-2 Points for Level One Offences (per offence)
-4 Points for Level Two Offences (per offence)

Minimum score = 0

Final Score = 0 if there are any Level Three or Four offences

Awarded by CA management to a team for each player/official who is reported and found guilty of a breach of the code of behaviour.

Umpires will not award these negative scores.  They will be applied by CA management after final outcomes of any hearings.