Dubai: There was a time when umpires used only the ball gauge, also known as ‘go-no-go’, to check whether the size of a cricket ball used in a game met with the standard measurements mandated by the Laws of Cricket. None imagined that one day, cricket bats too would be subjected to such measurement checks.

Cricketers have been pushing the boundaries of the laws of the game to gain undue advantage over their opponents. Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), guardians for the laws of the game, has now been forced to bring in a few rule-changes since most of the laws were written at a time when cricketers preferred to play within the rules without exploiting them to any unfair advantage.

For the lawmakers to introduce a bat gauge that ensures bats do not exceed 108mm (4.25 inches) in width, 67mm in depth and 40mm at the edges, actually shows that modern cricketers and batmakers are now being reminded to play the game in a fair manner. Batsmen who took the law for granted and played with any type of bat will now find it hard to adapt to the new restrictions.

The MCC was forced to act quickly because of the steady rise in bat sizes that made batting easier and a bowler’s life hell. With the introduction of Twenty20 cricket, the balance between bat and ball has been greatly affected.

Like Australian opener David Warner who will have to rely on a bat with a significantly thinner spine compared to the one he has been using in recent seasons, many other batsmen too will need to adapt quickly.

Similarly, no one ever thought that one day umpires will be given the power to send players off the field — temporarily or permanently — for serious offences. The law was written assuming players will be gentlemen and sporting but with administrators turning cricket into a business, players too resorted to explore ways to remain valuable rather than derive the sheer joy of playing cricket.

Cricketers of the past played the game with such glory that any unjust or plain wrong or even a dishonest act was termed as ‘not cricket’. With the MCC now being forced to punish unsporting acts with a five-run penalty and sending off the player shows that when the law is not followed in its spirit it will need to imposed forcefully.