So you think you’re all set for the Ashes?
Here’s a few things you might have missed.
This will be England’s first international series in any format since a new set of Playing Conditions was introduced by the International Cricket Council in late September – following on from the changes made to the Laws of Cricket by the MCC.
All the basics are the same.
But there are new regulations governing the size of bats, and especially their edges.
There have been a couple of changes to the Decision Review System (DRS), as teams will no longer lose a review if they are denied by Umpires’ Call – but will no longer have their number of available reviews topped up to two after 80 overs.
Batsmen can now be caught off a fielder’s helmet, whereas fielders will be denied catches if they have taken off from outside the boundary.
And perhaps most intriguing of all – although hopefully it won’t be relevant Down Under – is that bad on-field behaviour can now be punished more severely by the umpires. Even by dismissal, in extreme cases.
If you want to swot up completely, here’s a full list of exactly what’s changed – courtesy of the ICC and the MCC (via ecb.co.uk!).
To maintain the balance between bat and ball, the playing conditions now restrict the size of the edges of the bats as well as their thickness. The restriction on the length and width of bats remain unchanged but the thickness of the edges can’t be more than 40mm and the overall depth can be 67 mm at the most. Umpires will be issued with a new bat gauge, which they can use to check a bat’s legality.
A review will no longer be lost if an on-field decision remains unchanged solely as the result of an ‘Umpire’s Call’.
In Tests, there will be no more top-up reviews after 80 overs of an innings, meaning that there can only be two unsuccessful reviews in each innings, however long the innings lasts.
DRS can also be used in T20Is – but no need to worry about that until early 2018.
Run outs and catches
An important change with respect to run outs is that if a batsman is running or diving towards the crease with forward momentum, and has grounded his/her bat behind the popping crease but subsequently has lost contact with the ground at the time of the wickets being put down, the batsman will not be run out. The same interpretation will also apply for a batsman trying to regain their ground to avoid being stumped.
Airborne fielders making their first contact with the ball will need to have taken off from within the boundary, otherwise a boundary will be scored.
A batsman can now be out caught, stumped or run out even if the ball bounces off the helmet worn by a fielder or wicket-keeper.
In a new playing condition pertaining to players’ conduct, a player can now be sent off the field for the rest of the match for any serious misconduct, meaning it will apply to Level 4 offences.
Level 1 to 3 offences will continue to be dealt with under the ICC Code of Conduct.
Threatening to assault an umpire, making inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with an umpire, physically assaulting a player or any other person and committing any other act of violence all constitute Level 4 offences.
Modes of dismissal
Michael Vaughan will hold the distinction of being the last England player to be dismissed Handled the Ball – against India in Bangalore, in December 2001. He’d still have been out if the incident had occurred this December – but it would now be recorded as Obstructing the Field – meaning Vaughan would join Len Hutton, Ben Stokes and Jason Roy as England players to have gone in that unusual fashion.