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The Spirit of Cricket
Cricket more than any other sport has traditionally been associated with the virtues of honesty, integrity, fair play and team work. The spirit of cricket objective is to uphold and promote the positive values associated with the spirit of cricket, thereby educating the cricket community on codes and policies which enforce these values, as well as promoting the positive aspects of the game - 'play hard, play fair'.
The success of the Spirit of Cricket initiative depends upon the willingness of players, coaches, officials and administrators at all levels to embrace the concept and apply it in their approach to every aspect of the game.
In the late 1990s, two distinguished MCC members (and ex-England captains), Ted Dexter and Colin Cowdrey, sought to enshrine the 'Spirit of Cricket' in the game's Laws.
This would remind players of their responsibility for ensuring that cricket is always played in a truly sportsmanlike manner.
The Dexter/Cowdrey initiative proved successful. When the current Code of Laws was introduced, in 2000, it included, for the first time, a Preamble on the Spirit of Cricket
As it says: "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 Preamble goes on to explain the roles and responsibilities of captains, players and umpires in respecting and upholding the Spirit of Cricket
Preamble to the Laws
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 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.
In the event of a player failing to comply with instructions by an umpire, or criticising by word or action the decision 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.
2. 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.
3. 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
4. The Spirit of the Game involves RESPECT for:
- Your opponents
- Your own captain
- The roles of the umpires
- The game's traditional values
5. 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
There is no place for any act of violence on the field of play.
Captains and umpires together set the tone for the conduct of a cricket match. Every player is expected to make an important contribution towards this.