This text is, as far as as we know, the earliest published rules of cricket that have come down to us. They are more than eighty years older than the first official Laws of Cricket, published in 1789.
There are some strange omissions and gaps, making them look incomplete when compared to the 1789 Laws. But they are, definitely, cricket...
Note that the over consisted of 4 balls, as it did down to the 1800s...but a bowler was allowed to bowl two consecutive overs, once in an innings!
The coin toss is used to decide who will get to set up the pitch, NOT who will bat first. (Choosing the ground for the pitch, in those days of uneven fields, could have been a major advantage.) The "toss-up" for deciding who is to bat first refers to a bat being tossed, not a coin.
Also, the rules allowed for considerable interference on the field. Runners are allowed to interfere with fielders in any way they can, other than striking the ball.Batsmen can also stop the ball from hitting the wickets with their bodies (and even with their bats). No wonder there is no lbw rule!
These differences are major, but the game is [or should be] recognizable to anyone today.
They tell us how old cricket really is.
On setting forthe to play at Crickett
- Ye pitching of ye first Wicket is to be determined by ye cast of a piece of Money.
- When ye first Wicket is pitched and ye popping Crease cut, which must be exactly 3 Foot 10 Inches from ye Wicket ye other Wicket is to be pitched, directly opposite, at 22 yards distance, and ye other popping Crease cut 3 Foot 10 Inches before it.
- Ye bowling Creases must be cut, in a direct line, from each Stump.
- Ye Stumps must be 22 Inches, and ye Bail 6 inches. Ye Ball must weigh between 5 and 6 ounces.
- When ye Wickets are both pitched and ye Creases cut, ye Party that wins the toss-up may order which side shall go in first at his option.
Laws for Ye Bowlers 4 Balls and Over:
- YE Bowler must deliver ye Ball with one foot behind ye Crease even with ye Wicket, and when he has bowled one ball or more shall bowl to number 4 before he changes Wickets, and he shall change but once in ye same Innings.
- He may order ye Player that is in at his Wicket to stand on which side of it he pleases at a reasonable distance.
- If he delivers ye Ball with his hinder foot over ye Crease, ye Umpire shall call No Ball, though she be struck, or ye Player is bowled out, which he shall do without being asked, and no Person shall have any right to ask him.
Laws for ye Strikers, or those that are in:
- If ye Wicket is Bowled down, it's Out.
- If he strikes, or treads down, or falls himself upon ye Wicket ins striking, but not in over running, it's Out.
- A stroke or nip over or under his Batt, or upon his hands, but not arms, if ye Ball be held before she touches ye ground, though she be hug'd to the body, it's Out.
- If in striking both his feet are over YE popping Crease and his Wicket put down, except his bat is down within, it's Out. If a ball is nipp'd up an he strikes her again, wilfully, before she come to ye Wicket, it's Out.
- If ye Players have cross'd each other, he that runs for ye Wicket that is put down is Out. If they are not cross'd he that returns is Out.
Batt, Foot or Hand over ye Crease:
- If in running a notch ye Wicket is struck down by a throw, before his foot hand or Batt is over ye popping Crease, or a stump hit by ye Ball though ye Bail was down it's Out. But if ye Bail is down before, he that catches ye Ball must strike a stump out of ye ground, Ball in hand, then it's Out.
- If ye Striker touches or takes up ye Ball before she is lain quite still unless asked by ye Bowler or Wicket-keeper, then it's Out.
- When ye Ball has been in hand by one of ye Keepers or Stoppers, and ye Player has been at home, He may go where he pleases till ye next ball is bowled.
- If either of ye Strikers is cross'd in his running ground designedly, which design must be determined by the Umpires, the Umpire(s) may order that the Notch be scored.
- When ye Ball is hit up, either of ye Strikers may hinder ye catch in his running ground, or if she's hit directly across ye wickets, ye other Player may place his body anywhere within ye swing of his Batt, so as to hinder ye Bowler from catching her, but he must neither strike at her nor touch her with his hands.
- If a Striker nips a ball up just before him, he may fall before his Wicket, or pop down his Batt before she comes to it, to save it.
- Ye Bail hanging on one Stump, though ye Ball hit ye Wicket, it's Not Out.
Laws for Wicket Keepers:
- Ye Wicket Keepers shall stand at a reasonable distance behind ye Wicket, and shall not move till ye Ball is out of ye Bowler's hand, and shall not by any noise incommode ye Striker, and if his hands knees foot or head be over or before ye Wicket, though ye Ball hit it, he shall not be Out.
Laws for ye Umpires:
- To allow 2 minutes for each Man to come in when one is out, and 10 minutes between each Hand. To mark Ye Ball that it may not be changed.
- They are the sole judges of all Outs and Ins, of all fair and unfair play, of frivolous delays, of all hurts, whether real or pretended, and are discretionally to allow what time they think proper before ye Game goes on again.
- In a case of real hurt to a Striker, they are to allow another to come in and ye Person hurt to come in again, but are not to allow a fresh Man to play, on either Side, on any Account.
- They are sole judges of all hindrances, crossing ye Players in running, and standing unfair to strike, and in case of hindrance may allow a notch to be scored.
- They are not to order any Man out unless appealed to by any one of ye Players.
(These Laws are to ye Umpires Jointly.)
- Each Umpire is sole judge of all Nips and Catches, Ins and Outs, good or bad Runs at his own Wicket, and his determination shall be absolute, and he shall not be changed for another Umpire without ye consent of both sides.
- When 4 Balls are bowled, he is to call Over.
- When both Umpires shall call Play, 3 times, 'tis at ye peril of giving ye Game from them that refuse to Play.