The ICC, in a recent meet, once again discussed the issues plaguing International cricket and newer ways of dealing with them. While the governing body observed that matters like over-rates, DRS and the two new balls rule in ODI etc. have been the most crucial talking points of the year gone by, the remedies they’ve offered may leave a lot to be desired. Here are the changes that would take place from 1st October and the reasons why they might fail to serve their purpose.
The CEC endorsed the umpires’ intention to become far stricter on poor over-rates and time wasting and to maximize playing time in conditions where it is safe to do so.
This rule squarely reminds us of the last day’s play in the last Ashes Test this summer. While the match was poised for an interesting finish, players were taken off the field because of poor light. It was quite apparent that Michael Clarke, like Alistair Cook in an earlier Test match, used all the methods in the book to slow down the proceedings and by doing so, saved the match for his team. But by doing so, he also robbed the paying audience of the climax they must have waited for. In order to prevent such episodes in the future, umpires’ intention to become stricter gets endorsed. The obvious question that comes to mind is that weren’t they already instructed to be very strict and firm to ensure that captains don’t slow down the proceedings tactically? If they were, what stopped them from putting their foot down in the recently concluded Ashes? And if they weren’t, what new measures are they going to take in the future to impose themselves? Have the ICC given them more powers to punish the offenders? Have they changed any rule to empower the umpires and make them the sole judge and not the light meters to decide on the issue of fading light? Isn’t this then just a lip service to assuage the fans, for the time being?
It was also agreed that a trial would be conducted whereby a team’s referrals will be topped-up to two reviews after 80 overs of an innings.
From now on irrespective of the number of referrals used by the 80th over, the counter will be rolled back to two from the 81st over. This new addition to the DRS seems to be an attempt to avoid the Stuart Broad kind of howler in which everyone except the on-field umpire knew that Broad had nicked it. But since Clarke had consumed his two referrals by then he couldn’t request for another review.
Let’s go back to the very reason of the inception of the DRS—which was solely to eradicate howlers. Will adding a couple of reviews after the 80th over remove them? The answer is a plain No. What if the two reviews are lost in the first ten overs to fairly good calls that stayed with the on-field umpire? Is there a way to stop a howler from happening in the remaining 70 overs till the captain gets access to two more? Also, what if the captain hasn’t exhausted any of the available reviews till the 70th, wouldn’t he be, quite rightly, tempted to use the two reviews tactically in the next 10 overs? After all, he will get a couple more on the other side of the 80th.
Also, why didn’t the ICC consider addressing some of the other important issues like, if it is fair for the team to lose a review when the ball has just kissed the stumps and the decision remained with the on-field umpire? Isn’t that a good review and if it is, why do we penalize the team for it, twice? Staying with the on-field umpire is an attempt to make their presence relevant and also endorsing their authority, but then, why can’t they be trusted to do the same in the case of bad light, especially on the last day when the result of a five-day Test match hangs in the balance? Why must they be dictated by the reading on the light meter?
The CEC also approved the ICC Cricket Committee’s recommendation that in an ODI reduced to 25 overs or less prior to the start of first innings, only one new ball will be used per innings.
It is believed that the Asian block headed by the BCCI had, quite rightly, objected to the rule of using two new balls, one from either end, in an ODI. While two new balls, two bouncers per over and only four fielders outside the circle throughout added tooth to the fast bowlers, it marginalized the spinners a little bit. Statistics might suggest that that’s not the case, for spinners are still leading the ICC ODI Bowlers ranking. But that, unfortunately, tells you only about the quality of those spinners and not the story of the lesser ones who’ve been affected. It would be interesting to know how well the part-time spinners have done since the introduction of the new rules and also the number of overs bowled by spinners, for that might be on the wane too. Anyway, the ICC has agreed to use only one new ball in case the match is reduced to 25 overs or less. Good news? Not really. It’s commonsense that the match will get reduced that much only due to rain and if that’s the case, the outfield is likely to remain reasonably wet for the entire duration of the game. Now, would you rather have two new balls that are likely to remain drier or only one that becomes a bar of soap after a few overs? Even spinners would happily take the new ball over a wet ball. So, the intention to help the spinner is actually going to work against them.
While one must not doubt the ICC’s intentions to do the right thing, one has to admit that they’ve failed to take the right steps towards it, once again.
This entry was posted on Friday, September 27th, 2013 at 11:18 am
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.