A Spanish friend in my course who is quite keen to learn and understand the game of cricket, after listening to me for a while on the rules and stuff said, “The game is quite complicated.” Another French friend of mine said, “Why do only such few countries play cricket?”
Well the answer is probably because it is a game which requires a very special set of skills and also because it is a little complicated and being further complicated by the ICC. I have just read about the new playing conditions and I am quite bemused and wonder what the ICC want to achieve by making such changes?
Firstly, the idea of using a new ball at each end in ODI cricket. This move could probably be the final nail in the coffin of all bowlers (except in England, maybe). For starters, it completely kills the art of reverse swing in one day cricket. And even at the 40th over, a bowler will be bowling with a hard, 20 over new ball. With the quality of bats improving constantly, these hard balls will probably travel further and more often at that. What about the spinners? Yes, there are some spinners who prefer a hard and slightly newish ball, but in one day cricket? I’m not too sure. Add to that the fact that 10 of the ‘middle’ overs where spinners weaved their magic and aimed to control the game will be Powerplays. So an off spinner bowling in the 30th over, will have a 15 over ‘new’ ball and may be allowed only 3 fielders in the deep. After bringing the boundaries in across different grounds in limited overs cricket, is this the next step to killing the art of spin?
Next we come to the fact that the non-striker can be run out if he takes a start. This can work both ways. Yes it is unfair that a non-striker is, or rather was, allowed to be halfway down the pitch before the batsman even hit or missed the ball but this new rule could just lead to a lot more controversies. Just imagine, an India v Pakistan match, say the final of the World Cup, and with 2 runs to win off the last ball, the bowler decides to run out the non-striker who has advanced a couple of steps. It could lead to a war between the nations. This rule will again raise the importance of the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ and we could have more captains like Dhoni, recalling batsmen. Are we further complicating the game?
And then the most ridiculous one – changes to the ‘obstructing the field’ clause. We have been taught, probably since the day we were taught how to play the forward defence, that ‘you must value your wicket and while running make sure you come in the line of the ball, even if you get hit it is ok but do not get run out’. And now, a batsman can be run-out if he changes his running path and the fielding team appeals. This will again come down to ‘Spirit of cricket’ and raise the job description of the umpires. It will come down to the perception of the umpires and the third umpire. How do I explain this kind of dismissal to my French friend? We’re complicating it......
What are the ICC thinking to change next? Some ideas – use only 2 stumps for ODIs, that’s it I don’t want to think of more...
Please do not complicate our game further.
Fans of Cricket