The game we know today as cricket was first played in 17th century England and Ireland. It took shape from a simple ball game that used large balls made out of dried cow dung mixed with grass and sand. This is how it got its name, ‘cricket’ comes from the word cricca which means to throw or bounce the ball.

The rules have changed quite a bit over time, and different countries have adapted certain aspects of the sport depending on their own style. Some things never seem to change though, like what kind of bat people use!

In this article you will find out about some of the most significant changes to the laws of the game throughout history. So put your feet up and read on for more information!

Warning: There are spoilers ahead!

Changes to the law
of the game

It’s no surprise that there have been many changes to the laws of the game over the years. Many of these changes occurred because of differences in tactics between two teams vying for a win. Others were due to disagreements over whether an action constituted a legal play or not.

Here we will discuss five of the weirdest changes to the laws of the game.

The game is more free-flowing now

how have the rules of cricket changed over time

In past years, there were very few changes to how cricket was played. Once the field size was reduced from thirty yards long to twenty five yard lengths, that was it!

The square boundaries made it much harder for batsmen to pick up quick singles or twos so most teams didn’t use them. Since then though, we have seen some rule changes that make the sport faster and easier to watch.

Fielders can be positioned anywhere outside the batting area and they don’t need to stay within their territory for quite as long before jumping in the outfield. This allows for quicker reactions to potential run outs while also creating more exciting action.

Another change that has happened over time is using the Dukes model instead of the traditional circle boundary. A team gets one chance per side with the ball to hit the target after which running players can enter the field.

The referees have more power

how have the rules of cricket changed over time

In modern day cricket, there are never really “lucky” breaks for teams. All games are close, even when one team is clearly better than another. This is why people talk about cricket being in an era of parity — every game seems to be a nail-biter!

In fact, some argue that this is what makes it so exciting to watch. A great example of this can be seen in the way cricket has changed over time.

From having only eight players per side until the mid-20th century, to having eleven men per side up until the turn of the 21st century, to now having twelve or thirteen, we have gone through different formats with different rules. And all of these versions of the sport seem to make for very entertaining viewing.

The reason? They all create high levels of competition. Even if one player is not doing well, someone else always comes forward to take his place. Or, multiple good players vie for positions at key times, creating a lot of action.

This article will look at three major changes to how cricket is played in this country. What differences they made, and why they were needed.

Fielding is harder

how have the rules of cricket changed over time

Modern day cricket has become much more field-focused than it was in the early days when most of the action took place on the pitch. The goal now is to have as little time spent not involved in fielding or chasing, which is why almost every game ends with at least an hour of batting somewhere.

Fielders are needed for virtually every aspect of the game, from keeping the batsman out by using your speed, to picking off loose balls with your hands, to throwing down the ball so that another fielder can make a play.

There’s even specialised fielders like the backward defensive stick (bowling) or forward defensive leg slip who try to stop the ball going past their area.

All this emphasis on fielding makes it very hard to be a success unless you are really good at it – and some people just never seem to get the hang of it!
Stats: In Australia alone there were over 50 dropped catches per Test match during the 2013/14 season. That’s nearly one drop catch per game!

In England, only eight teams ever managed to win a test series after they had lost seven wickets with less than 30 runs left in the last innings.

Batting is harder

how have the rules of cricket changed over time

Modern day cricket is very different from what we had in the past. Back then, batsmen could really do anything with the ball. If they were not able to hit it as hard or straight as possible, that was okay!

The challenge for today’s player is to go beyond just hitting the ball well, but being able to manipulate the size of the pitch while at the same time avoiding poor shots.

This is much more difficult than people might think. A lot of credit for this goes to technology. Technology has made it easier to control the shape of the ball by adding new materials into equipment.

For example, using gutta-percha instead of rubber makes balls heavier and flatter, which helps players keep the ball in the field longer. This gives them more opportunities to use talent to get away with some trick shots.

Bowling is harder

how have the rules of cricket changed over time

In the early days of cricket, there was no rule against bowling the ball before it left the hand. If you watched a game from that era, then you would have seen batsmen get hit in all sorts of funny ways due to an overbowler’s mistake or because they themselves failed to keep their eye on the ball.

It wasn’t until 1908 that The Laws of Cricket were formally written down and thus bowled with control became part of the rules. Before this, many people simply learned how to bowl by watching others do it and practicing as needed!

Since then, the laws of cricket have been revised several times. Some changes are for better, like being able to use your hands while batting, but some have had negative impacts on the game.

For example, when leg-side fielders can run between the wicket and long-on at will, they don’t need much more than a few steps to take away a sure single. This makes close matches even more annoying to watch, as one bad decision can make a big difference. [1]

[1] A small example of this happened during the 2015 World Cup where India played Australia. As Steve Smith reached across his stumps to pull off Ben Stokes, who had just missed a short boundary, he was called out for missing the bat.

The cricket world cup has become much more competitive

Since its inception in 1987, the World Cup has been an integral part of the sport’s growth. It gave rise to some very famous matches that have left memories for many. For example, back in 2007 when Australia was down 0-2 against England in the semi-final, there were only 45 minutes remaining until the match was over. But then Nathan Lyon picked up where he had left off two days earlier by bowling Ben Stokes with what would go onto be known as the ‘Lyon bouncer’.

The next ball saw James Anderson hit six consecutive four balls through the covers.

New cricketing countries have entered the sport

how have the rules of cricket changed over time

In fact, some argue that too many new teams are now involved in the game, with more than half a century’s worth of competitions having taken place since fewer than twenty nations were allowed to play. This is particularly concerning for those who enjoy the game as it was originally designed: as an extended exercise in team harmony.

The most well-known example of this is when India and Pakistan could not be invited to participate in the 1982 World Cup due to their ongoing conflict. Both teams had qualified earlier in the year, but they refused to take part because the other side wouldn’t agree to a truce during what would have been a hugely important match.

By the time the next tournament came around, only two teams per region were permitted – so there was no longer any incentive for players from either nation to represent their country.

The scoring system has changed

how have the rules of cricket changed over time

In modern day cricket, there is no longer just three points for a goal or a win. There are several different ways to score in this so-called “futility” style of game. Some countries use a highest individual scorer format, where whoever scores the most wins. Others have a net run rate format, where the team with the higher number of runs across all innings earns the win. Then there are teams that do not use either of those as their method of determining a winner, but instead look at how many matches they won during a specified period of time!

The way that people describe the new type of scoring system is not very straightforward because it can be hard to conceptualize what it really means. For example, some say that a team has won when they scored more than another team, while others say that they won when they kept up with the other team.