HAVING drawn back the curtains to see the sun shining on Saturday, I thought for once the Bolton Cricket League season will get off to a fine and warm start.

Well it might have stayed fine but the thermals and sweaters were soon needed as that wind was a bit cool, especially at grounds that are quite exposed.

Cricket was able to get back to normal at long last with Covid restrictions gone, apart from holding players sweaters and caps. They are still not being carried by the Bolton League umpires and the League are to implement the new ban on the use of saliva on the ball.

While this new law comes into being on October 1 this year, having got use to not being able to use saliva in the previous two years then it made sense to carry on with it. A warning may be given for this year only, if players are seen using saliva and then law 41.3 will commence. If the umpire considers this practice constitutes changing the condition of the ball, then five penalty runs can be awarded and if it continues then the law says the bowler can be taken off, no matter who has used saliva. It appears now to be very much a health and safety law.

I have been asked about young fast bowlers and how many overs they can bowl in a spell. It doesn’t matter how old the bowler is on the day of the match, it’s how old he was on August 31 last year. That determines which age group he falls into, so it’s important the team cards filled in before the toss show the correct age group. Under-13s can bowl five overs per spell; u15s six and for u16 to u19s it’s seven overs per spell.

A bowler can change ends mid spell as long as he bowls the next over he legally can according to the laws of cricket. For example, he could bowl five from his opening spell and change ends and bowl two more when he can legitimately. He then has to wait a further seven overs from the end he finished on before he is allowed to bowl again. He cannot bowl five, then change ends immediately and bowl seven more.

The ECB brought this directive in to try and stop the over bowling of young fast bowlers which was leading to back injuries and from data published it appears to be working, even if a bit frustrating for the player bowling well when he has to come off.