Spirit of Cricket

Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it is played not only within its laws but within the 'Spirit of the Game'.

Historically the game of cricket has been symbolised by etiquette, manners and fair play.

The 42 Laws of cricket clearly explain the expectations of participant behaviour and is applied across all countries and cultures.

The Laws also include a section on 'The Spirit of Cricket' designed to discourage negative and anti-social behavior on and off the field.

Cricket is the only game in the world to have a 'Spirit of the Game' enshrined in its Laws, a fact participants and administrators take great pride in.

Captains and coaches are bestowed with responsibility of ensuring that the Laws are adhered to and the game is played in the right spirit.

Every player is expected to make a contribution to play the game in good spirit and fairness.

Any action which is seen to jeopardise this spirit causes injury to the game itself.

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
"When considering the stature of an athlete, I place great store on certain qualities which I believe to be essential in addition to skill. They are that a person conducts his or her life with dignity, with integrity, with courage and perhaps most of all modesty. These virtues are totally compatible with pride, ambition, determination and competitiveness."
- Sir Donald Bradman AC
"When you talk about the Spirit of Cricket you are talking about not just the game, but a way to live your life; you are talking about embracing the traditions of the game and sharing your experiences with friends and cricket lovers alike."
- Tony Greig, MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture, 2012

A Sport for All - Tips for Fostering the Spirit of Cricket

Tips vary, depending on the age of participants. Below are some ideas to encourage and foster the Spirit of Cricket.

1. The Responsibility of Captains and Coaches

The Captain or Coach is responsible at all times for ensuring that play is conducted within the Laws and Spirit of Cricket.

Tip: As an association, hold a pre-season session for Umpires, Team Managers, Captains and Coaches on neutral ground. Think about incentives to get high attendance (e.g. work with your State body, to invite a high ranking current or past player or coach). Use the time to shape how the association will hold teams to account and equip clubs to host their own Spirit of Cricket sessions to spread the word. Think about mid-season follow-up, and also consider that leadership may be shared amongst individuals in youth teams. As a club, ensure the Spirit of Cricket is addressed at season launch by the Club President and leading into the first game of the season by Club Captains/Coaches.

2. Team Accountability

Establish a Spirit of Cricket framework, so that everybody is accountable to uphold the Spirit of Cricket - when an individual is in breach, the whole team is responsible.

Tip: Download, refer to and display around your club the Spirit of Cricket signage using the following template: clubassist.cricket.com.au/insurance-and-policies/spirit-of-cricket

3. Opposition Team Welcome

As the home team, clearly mark the opposition's area of change rooms and make an effort to provide an overview of facilities. Place signage specifically welcoming the opposition and where appropriate translate in language.

Tip: Appoint someone in a non-playing role, with the specific task of greeting the opposition team, giving them a quick run-down on facilities and acting as a general team liaison.

4. Post-Game Gathering

Tip: Home team captain to invite opposition captain and team for an appropriate post match gathering to facilitate positive reflection on the game and the development of friendships and understanding of others.

5. Umpire Integration

Do not segregate umpires from participants. Umpires are trained to know when it is appropriate to be in the vicinity of participants. Make an effort to involve them in pre-match, tea breaks, drinks breaks, post-match – and let them make a judgement when to be isolated (do not isolate them through your actions).

Tip: Include the umpire/s in any after match presentation. Offer them the opportunity to say a few words.

6. Support Staff and Spectators

Coaches, administrators, parents, teachers and spectators should respect the nature of the game, and accept that it is the responsibility of umpires and the team captains to conduct a match in the appropriate manner.

Tip: Communication from the boundary should only be in recognition of good performance or effort.

Tip: Messages to players should be delivered via the 12th player at drinks breaks, or when teams leave the field. They should not be yelled from beyond the boundary.

7. Reward Behaviour

Tip: At the post team gathering invite the umpires to nominate a player(s) from the home team and opposition who have exemplified the Spirit of Cricket. Where resources allow, present the players with an appropriate award which could be sourced from local businesses or a memento or souvenir. The umpire can present the award on behalf of the competing clubs.

If a reward per match is not feasible, consider instituting a coaches' award within the team/club on a monthly basis, culminating in an overall Spirit of Cricket award at your annual presentation night.

8. Use Local Role Models

If your club chooses to host a Spirit of Cricket session, use role models to deliver your message.

These could include the following:

  • Leading local cricketer
  • A current female or male State/Territory or International cricketer
  • A former player accessed through the Australian Cricketers Association Past Player Program. Requests for players under this program should be made through your local, State and Territory cricket associations via your Regional Cricket Manager

A Sport for All - Spirit of Cricket Etiquette

1. Toss of the coin

  • Captains should always introduce themselves and shake hands prior to the toss.
  • The toss of the coin should be on the pitch with the umpires present.
  • The home team captain tosses the coin, the opposition captain calls.

2. Entering the playing field for commencement of play

  • Umpires are always the first to enter the playing field.
  • The fielding side then takes the field, led by their captain.
  • The two batters enter after the fielding team.

3. During play

  • The batting team should support the batters and/or warm up in preparation for batting.
  • It is normally the responsibility of the batting side to keep the score board up to date.

4. Leaving the field

  • The batters are always first to leave the playing field.
  • The fielding team follows the batters.

5. 12th player

  • The 12th player must be dressed in playing apparel.
  • If there are only 11 cricketers in a team, the batting side should have someone in playing apparel at all times who can act as a substitute fielder for the opposition should the need arise.
  • Players performing 12th player duties must be prepared e.g. know when drinks are to be taken, be alert to requests from players for sun-screen, jumpers, towels, ice, first aid, etc.

6. Bowlers' and fielders' ground marking

  • When marking their run-up, bowlers should refrain from damaging the surface as a sign of respect for those responsible for preparing the surface. The same applies to fielders who mark the ground to indicate their position on the field (markers or paint should be used).

7. Acknowledgment of milestones

  • Fielding teams should always acknowledge 50s and 100s by opposition batters (by clapping or sincere verbal acknowledgement).
  • All players should acknowledge bowling achievements such as five wickets and hat-tricks (by clapping or sincere verbal acknowledgement).

8. After the game

  • After the game, ALL players should acknowledge the opposition and match officials by shaking hands.
"It is the responsibility of all those that play the game (the custodians) to leave the game in a better state than when they first became involved"
- Sir Donald Bradman

Case Study: Sydney Junior Winter Cricket Association (SJWCA)

Background: The Sydney Junior Winter Cricket Association is a Sydney-wide T20 competition that started in 2004 with 33 players and has grown to over 1,000 players. This growth has been underpinned by a strong focus on the Spirit of Cricket.

Case Study Tips

  1. The Spirit of Cricket is embedded as a formal section in Association rules, not just as a preamble to the rules.
  2. Collective Responsibility - To encourage collective responsibility for breaches of the Spirit of Cricket (protests, citings, disputes), a whole of team approach is taken to penalties.
  3. Clear Communication of Penalties - Penalties are articulated in the printed rules, verbally communicated at Team Manager/Coach/Officials briefing sessions and constantly emphasised through regular communications e.g. e-newsletters.
  4. Code of Conduct - Every player signs a Code of Conduct upon registration so each player is aware of her or his responsibilities regarding on and off field behaviour.
  5. Transparent Process to deal with Breaches - Breaches of the Spirit of the Game or complaints are dealt with by an independent sub-committee.
  6. Reward Good Behaviour - Each season, the SJWCA presents the Brian Booth Spirit of Cricket Award to a player in each team who has exemplified the Spirit of Cricket.
  7. Use Local Role Models - Brian Booth MBE is a Sydney-based former Australian captain who played 29 Tests and is known for his sportsmanship and in fostering this in players and teams he coached post his playing