The laws of cricket, like the laws of the land, aim at a sort of justice or balancing between different factions. The purpose behind cricket’s laws, and behind changes in them, is often to calibrate the balance in the game between batsmen and bowlers, between attack and defence, between safety and risk. Cricketing lawmakers are interested in the overall appeal of the game to players and spectators alike.
Mike Brearley’s brilliant The Spirit of Cricket will alternate between issues and examples within the game – e.g. ‘Mankading’, the Australian ball-tampering scandal, intimidatory bowling, sledging, mental disintegration – as well as broader issues such as the spirit and letter of the law. It will discuss the issue of how far what purports to be justice (in law or in spirit) may or may not be the expression of the powerful within the activity or within society. It will also contrast cheating and corruption, and will reflect on the nature of penalties in regard to each. It will discuss the significance of the notion of the spirit of the game for umpires, groundsmen, administrators, media and spectators – as well of course as for players.