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Laws of Cricket 1947 Code (Second Edition)
Law 46 - Duties of the Umpires (more)

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Before and during a match the Umpires shall ensure that the conduct of the game and the implements used are strictly in accordance with the Laws; they are the sole judges of fair and unfair play, and the final judges of the fitness of the ground, the weather and the light for play in the event of the decision being left to them; all disputes shall be determined by them, and if they disagree the actual state of things shall continue. The Umpires shall change ends after each side has had one innings.


  1. An umpire should stand where he can best see any act upon which his decision may be required. Subject to this over-riding consideration the umpire at the bowler’s end should stand where he does not interfere with either the bowler’s run up or the striker’s view. If the other umpire wishes to stand on the off instead of the leg side of the pitch, he should obtain the permission of the captain of the fielding side and inform the batsman.
  2. The umpires must not allow the attitude of the players or spectators to influence their decisions under the Laws.
  3. A code of signals for umpires is laid down in the Notes to the relevant Laws; but an umpire must call as well as signal, if necessary, to inform the players and scorers.
    1. The umpires are entitled to intervene without appeal in the case of unfair play, but should not otherwise interfere with the progress of the game, except as required to do so by the Laws.
    2. In the event of a player failing to comply with the instructions of an umpire or criticising his decisions, the umpires should in the first place request the captains to take action, and if this proves ineffective, report the incident forthwith to the executives of the teams taking part in the match.
    3. It is illegal for a player to lift the seam of the ball in order to obtain a better hold. In such a case the umpire will if necessary change the ball for one which has had similar wear, and will warn the captain that the practice is unfair. The use of resin, wax, etc., by bowlers is also unfair, but a bowler may dry the ball when wet on a towel or with sawdust.
    4. An umpire is justified in intervening under this Law should any player of the fielding side incommode the striker by any noise or motion while he is receiving a ball.
    5. The umpires are justified in preventing players from causing damage to the pitch which may assist the bowlers.
    6. [see original]
      The persistent bowling of fast short-pitched balls at the batsman is “unfair” if, in the opinion of the umpire at the bowler’s end, it constitutes a systematic attempt at intimidation. In such event he must adopt the following procedure:
      1. When he decides that such bowling is becoming persistent he forthwith “cautions” the bowler.
      2. If this “caution” is ineffective, he informs the captain of the fielding side and the other umpire of what has occurred.
      3. Should the above prove ineffective, the umpire at the bowler’s end must:
        1. At the first repetition call “Dead Ball” when the over is regarded as completed.
        2. Request the captain of the fielding side to take the bowler off forthwith.
        3. Report the occurrence to the captain of the batting side as soon as an interval of play takes place.
        A bowler who has been “taken off” as above may not bowl again during the same innings.
    7. Any attempt by the batsmen to steal a run during the bowler’s run up is unfair. Unless the bowler throws the ball at either wicket (see Laws 26 Note 3 and 27 Note 2), the umpire should call “Dead Ball” as soon as the batsmen cross in any such attempt to run, after which they return to their original wickets.
    8. No player shall leave the field for the purpose of having a rub down or shower while play is actually in progress.
    1. Unless agreement to the contrary is made before the start of a match, the captains (during actual play the batsmen at the wickets may deputise for their captain) may elect to decide in regard to the fitness of the ground, weather or light for play; otherwise or in the event of a disagreement, the Umpires are required to decide.
    2. Play should only be suspended when the conditions are so bad that it is unreasonable or dangerous for it to continue. The ground is unfit for play when water stands on the surface or when it is so wet or slippery as to deprive the batsmen or bowlers of a reasonable foothold, or the fieldmen of the power of free movement. Play should not be suspended merely because the grass is wet and the ball slippery.
    3. After any suspension of play, the captains, or, if the decision has been left to them, the Umpires, unaccompanied by any of the players, will without further instruction carry out an inspection immediately the conditions improve, and will continue to inspect at intervals. Immediately the responsible parties decide that play is possible, they must call upon the players to resume the game.

The original Law 46, Note 4 (vi) read:
The persistent and systematic bowling of fast short-pitched balls at the batsman standing clear of his wicket is “unfair” and if, in the opinion of the umpire at the bowler’s end, unfair bowling of this type takes place he must adopt the following procedure: ...

The M.C.C. issued a statement on April 15 1953 which said that following an experiment in Australia the Australian Board of Control was of the opinion that the new note had satisfactory results. A new draft was circulated and the new Note was experimental in England in 1953. Printings of the Laws after this had the revised wording above.

Reproduction of the Laws of Cricket is by kind permission of Marylebone Cricket Club