Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Future of One Day Cricket.

Recently, the ICC Cricket Committee made a series of recommendations to spice up ODIs. The CC, which was chaired by Sunil Gavaskar, made the following points (ICC report can be found here):

  • The fielding restrictions should apply for the first 10 overs of every innings with two additional blocks of 5 overs to be applied through the course of an innings at the discretion of the fielding captain.
  • The introduction of soccer-style substitutes for international cricket wherein a player could be replaced at any stage of a match but would then be ruled out for the remainder of the match. Both the substitute and the substituted player would receive a cap and the replacement could happen at any stage of the match, including during a batting innings.
  • A technology trial should be undertaken at the Johnnie Walker Super Series to allow on-field umpires to consult with the TV umpire on any aspect of any decision. The final decision after these discussions would remain with the on-field umpire.
Apparently, the focus is on encouraging tactical approach to the game & on increasing the quality. Not to underrate the other two recommendations, I feel the second suggestion will have maximum impact on the game. Harsha Bhogale also has something to say about it.

The first recommendation can increase the worries of the fielding captain. Most logical step would be to use these 10 overs of field restriction during the middle stage of the inning (20-35 overs). If the batting team is struggling to recuperate after some early wickets, this can be useful for the bowling team to cut off singles and tighten the screws further. This strategy can backfire if the batting side introduces some aggressive pinch hitter during those overs of field restrictions. I don't think any captain will even dream of keeping these overs towards the end of the inning. It'll further encourage the massacre of bowling in last 10 overs. This rule will definitely help batting side more than the bowling side.

The second rule is the most interesting one. With twelve caps to be distributed every match, a captain can afford the luxury of keeping another specialist batsman or a good bowler in the wings and employ them according to the situation. Today, ODIs have the allrounders taking the centerstage. This rule will increase the importance of specialists definitely. I don't see it making allrounders less important though. Another thing, it will bring excellent bowling-batting battles back to the game. With the liberty to play with specialists & using this rule wisely, the think-tank of the team can do wonders! Take Indian team for example, it's main strength lies in it's deep batting line up. It plays with 6 batsmen+1 wicket keeper+ 4 bowlers mainly. Most of the times, while batting first, we don't need all the 6 specialist batsmen. In such case, we can replace an unused specialist batsman with a specialist bowler for the bowling inning. So eventually, teams will start to play with 6-7 batsman in the batting innings & 5-6 bowlers in the bowling innings. This will reduce the necessity for mediocre batsman-bowlers like Yuvraj, Ganguly, Mongia etc. This rule is also biased a bit towards the batting side.

Third group is mainly to reduce the number of controversies over field umpire's decisions. Oflate we've had a little too many of such controversies. It's a step in the right direction, but my only concern is that it'll further increase the inning's length. With other changes encouraging run scoring, the length is already going to be stretched.

All in all, the future is exciting! Given ICC implements these changes, the batting side could score easily in order of 350-400. Interestingly, even these scores won't be safe anymore. It might affect the bowlers adversely, but then one day cricket is all about batsmen giving the stick to bowlers :).


Satyajit said...

I was thinking of writing about it on my blog. But will express my views here now. These changes has been done because of the increasing challenge that ODI format has been facing from 20-20 format. In my opinion, no change in format should be made (Referring to 3rd umpire for LBW decisions is a different matter) and ODI format should die its natural death. O/w there will be a increase in amount of cricket because of the 3 formats and it will become harder for the cricketers.

Pankaj Jain said...

Cricketers are entertainers now. :(