There must have been some form of 'rules' for playing cricket as early as 1700, if not before, though the earliest set was not written down until 1744, on the instructions of the 'noblemen and gentlemen' that played the game at the Artillery Ground in London

In 1787 the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) was formed and, on May 30 the following year, issued the first Code of Cricket Laws. Since that time, the MCC has been recognised world wide as the sole authority for the Laws of the game and holds the copyright on them

As the game developed the Laws have been revised on several occasions, most recently in 2000, with a second edition in 2003 and other revisions in 2017 and 2019 that included a number of - mostly small - amendments. The 2000 Code also introduced a Preamble - The Spirit of Cricket - which explains what is expected from captains and players in terms of their responsibilities, conduct, fair play and the respect they should show for their own team, their opponents, the umpires and cricket's traditional values. This Preamble is as much a part of the Laws as the individual Laws that follow it

In the early nineteenth century the Laws were numbered for the first time and the total number of Laws has occasionally varied - there were 53 of them after the 1884 revision, for instance. Today there are 42 numbered Laws, plus the Preamble that, together, constitute the current Code of Laws

The Laws may be read in full on the MCC website.