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Will The Newly Revised Rules Take The ODI To Its Old?

July 18, 2015

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Whenever I watch the black and white videos from the archives or even recall my childhood memories, I wonder how incredibly the game of cricket has changed over the years almost without getting noticed. There was a time when the fearsome fast bowlers of the stinging 70s and the early 80s left the batsmen high and dry, of which I could witness a very little though. However seeing the dramatically changed wickets of present times even the bowling legends from the past feel thankful about not playing under the current circumstances. On the other hand, the batsmen of these days would feel even more thankful not to have played 40 years ago. But if the helmets have given the batsmen some breathing space, the ultra-modern bats and the imposed restrictions on the fielding sides have taken the game away from the bowlers. What started with top edges going over the ropes, has reached its peak with the introduction of the T20 format and the evolution comprising all the changes in between have slowly but surely transformed the Gentlemen’s Game into a Batsmen’s Game.

Talking about the One Day Internationals, I have never been among the greatest fans of the matches where the team batting first scores 350 plus and the opponent chases it down with 5 overs left. Rather the old fashioned ODIs, where even posting a 250 would mean a neck-to-neck clash till the last ball is something what I like to see more often. But it won’t have been possible anyway unless some new ideas were enforced into the game as the bowlers had to have something in their favor to bowl at. The way batsmen dominated the latest edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup, a huge question mark was raised over the durability of ODI cricket. The format had got monotonous and also predictable up to some extent before ICC decided to make amendments to some of the ODI rules.

Old Rule: In the first 10 overs maximum 2 fielders are permitted outside the 30-yard circle and at least 2 fielders must remain inside the 15-yard circle.

New Rule: In the first 10 overs maximum 2 fielders are permitted outside the 30-yard circle but there need not to be any mandatory fielder inside the 15-yard circle.

It provides options to the fielding captain regarding whether he wants to set a defensive field or an attacking one. Zimbabwe were seen to opt for a defensive strategy against India, which of course didn’t help the Indian batsmen to score freely in the first 10 overs however offered a chance to get set. Perhaps you might be wondering about how Bangladesh got off to flying starts in their winning fixtures against South Africa! The answer is that the visitors didn’t have enough runs on the board and hence right from the outset they had to have those 2 men at the catching positions; which also gave Bangladesh the opportunity to launch the counter attack. So it’s equally important how the batting team sees the opportunity and reacts to the situation.

Old Rule: Between overs 11 and 40 (both inclusive) maximum 4 players are allowed outside the 30-yard circle when the batting powerplay doesn’t apply. When it does, maximum 3 fielders can remain outside the 30-yard circle.

New Rule: Between the overs 11 and 40 (both inclusive) maximum 4 players are permitted outside the 30-yard circle. There will not be any batting powerplay.

When the batting powerplay was first introduced everyone was a little confused what to do with this thing. The teams often used to make delay in taking the batting powerplay unless they were in a spot of bother. So many times we have seen that the spell of batting powerplay completely changed the complexion of the game. As the singles are never easy to find and at that stage the first thing the batsmen want to make sure is that the scoreboard keeps ticking. In this way they were almost forced to try something out of the box resulting in their dismissals. However in the last 2-3 years ODIs have been largely influenced by the T20 format and batsmen batting with loads of freedom. So what we saw in the CWC15 is that every team came into the tournament with a definite plan to make the most of these 5 overs of batting powerplay. Often we saw a T20 specialist batting in that particular slot of the innings, like Suresh Raina for India. There were no fewer than three times in the tournament when he came in to rescue his team and it had a lot to do with that phase of the batting powerplay. Under the circumstances it’s always a tough call for the opponent skipper to make whether he will bowl an over or two with his main bowlers, having kept in mind that a significant number of their overs had to be saved for the death as well. All in all, the removal of the batting powerplay, which used to be one-tenth of the whole innings, is not only going to save the bowlers from being hit black and blue, but also promises to draw a strong impact in near future.

Old Rule: In the last 10 overs maximum 4 players are allowed outside the 30-yard circle.

New Rule: In the last 10 overs maximum 5 players are allowed outside the 30-yard circle.

It is the most difficult thing for any bowler to bowl at the death. It’s almost inevitable that the batsmen at that stage will go after every single ball. That’s the area where the bowlers deserved to have an extra bit of cushion, but the rules didn’t allow them to have so. And this is not the end, when bowlers were up against someone like AB de Villiers in these final overs, it was just a matter of time that they go off the frying pan into the fire. It’s very easy to say that the bowlers nowadays are more interested in stopping runs rather than picking up wickets, but one should not forget that the bowlers have to bowl to their field, and if the fielders can’t be placed where the bowlers want, there is little that they can do about it. Not all the bowlers after all have supreme authority over the Yorker length deliveries, and even a slight deviation from accuracy is liable to go for runs with only 4 men outside the circle. That’s probably the reason why we did not see much of Yorkers at the death, saw more back of length stuffs instead. But here with the revised rules, even if someone misses his length marginally, it should still not be easy to put a low full toss away for four with an extra fielder outside the circle. Yorker being the best death weapon, this extra protection should encourage the bowlers to bowl a few more of those in the final ten.

Bowlers however don’t need to get too much delighted with the changed rules having said that the wickets won’t change anyway. In addition to this, a rule that has gone against them has to be kept in mind too: A free hit will be awarded to the batting side for all versions of the no ball i.e. not just when the bowler oversteps. But taking the whole scenario under consideration I am pretty optimistic about the fact that the bowlers will get benefitted from the revised rules and hopefully it starts to make the contest between bat and ball an even-steven one.

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From → Cricket, ODI, Sports

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