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Life as I'm learning it

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Location: Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, United States

"It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match'd with an agèd wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Saving the game

South Africa beat Australia and all that. A Himalayan achievement, no doubt. Yesterday's match was a tribute to the human spirit, a celebration of the never-say-die attribute of sportsmen who immortalized themselves by entering the annals of cricket history. But it is also a reminder, of the sorry state of bowlers. About the ruthlessness of the one-day game, and how it brutalises wantonly the men who run up to deliver the ball only to see it wallopped to the fence. So much that the most pertinent comment from yesterday's game was "After watching this game, who would want to take up bowling as a career?"

It is interesting that the comment comes just a day after Anil Kumble prised his 500th scalp. But that was in Tests, and test cricket is not so unbalanced as its shorter version. It is the one-day game that needs some lotsa rethinking. The rethinking did happen, but the results have been counterproductive.

For example, the Powerplays hardly help the fielding team. Unless, of course, if the batting side are five down already. Since that happens seldom, the fielding captain is often left to rue the new change in rules. The futility of the super-sub option is already out in the open, with both Graeme Smith and Ricky Ponting agreeing not to use super-subs in the recently concluded series.

The ICC needs to act, and fast. Some oft-repeated reasons like making the game more entertaining to the viewers are turning out to be short-sighted excuses. How can the ICC say ok to torturing bowlers? In short, how different is Twenty20 from a rape scene in the movies?

I have been thinking of some possible rule changes that the ICC can bring in. None of them might sound plausible, but this is the best we can do to avoid plunder.

1. Three fielders outside the ring

When the batsmen slog blindly, the fielding restrictions during the first 15 overs (now during the Powerplays) are only helping their cause. Just two fielders outside the ring means the fielding captain places a third-man and a fine-leg by default. This enables the batsmen to go over the top in front of the wicket. How about placing an extra man outside the ring? This gives the bowling side extra options. A deep cover, a long-off or a deep mid-wicket to offer extra protection.

2. Only one catcher

This can ideally be coupled with the previous rule. Instead of mandating two close-in fielders, we can relax the restriction to one catcher during the initial overs and powerplays.

3. Naming super-sub after the toss

Nowadays, the super-sub must be named prior to the toss. Thus if Rahul Dravid names Murali Kartik as his super-sub, but he wants India to bat second, the super-sub option goes waste. Thus, the captains can be allowed to name their super-sub after the order of play is determined.

4. Twelve fielders

This is a ridiculous suggestion, I know. The game can be played with an extra substitute, who is always on the field. He won't bat or bowl, but he can be used for fielding. Too often we know that one more man would have done the difference. This extra man would give the fielding captain multiple options, say one extra man on the leg side.

5. Twelve-a-side

Another one, more ridiculous than the previous. Each side can field 12 players, of which 10 players would be regular. Of the other two, only one can bat and the other must bowl. Both of them can field. This is like selecting an Indian team with 11 players, and picking say Murali Kartik in addition. Kartik can bowl his full quota of 10 overs, but won't be allowed to bat. Before the toss, both captains would name their teams including these two special-function players.

6. Restricted slog overs

Restricting the number of overs with field restrictions to 10. As a compromise, this could be split as the first and last 5 overs of an innings.

7. Mandatory bowler-friendly pitches

In a series of five games, at least 2 should be played on tracks that assist bowling. Like some slow tracks in India, or fast and bouncy tracks like in Perth.

I could think of some more, inspired from the Indian street game. Like having four stumps, or legalising the one-pitch catch. The latter was devised, rather ingeniously, I must admit, by some shrewd cricketing brain on some bylane in India, which knew aeons ago that supports were needed to quash the imbalance plaguing the game.

Notwithstanding the aboe, I'm quite sure that the ICC would do nothing, because they are in the money and why would they want to do anything to disturb that? They will come up with some more "amazing suggestions" like HighFives, a game of just 5 balls. Cart 'em and win! After all, when in school, even I was a slogger. For all my vegetarianism, I know how tasty the blood of bowlers is.


Blogger Vijay said...

True that the recent innovations in LOIs have made them more bowler-unfriendly.. I agree with point nos 1,2,3,6 and 7.. but 4 and 5 r quite over the board. U want 12 people in the team (to be announced before the toss) and one more super-sub (to be announced after the toss)? I guess naming super-sub after the toss will itself go a long way in what u expect out of the game..

3/12/2006 11:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Vijay Krishna said...

No, in the 12-a-side game, there won't be a supersub. And the entire team must be named before the toss, including the exact functions of the 2 players.

3/12/2006 11:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Hi said...


3/13/2006 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger மு.கார்த்திகேயன் said...

The template was not too good. The left side links on upper where the real posts are started only after the left side links.

When initially saw your blogs, i misunderstood no posts are there..

3/14/2006 08:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Vijay Krishna said...

@KM: Thanks for the comment. I've fixed it now.

3/14/2006 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger Aparna S Mallya said...

Cricket, in most cases, has been a batsman's gain. If we r asked to choose between watching our team bat or watching it field, i guess most of us would choose the former. This, ofcourse is unfair on the bowlers. I hope after the SA/Aussie phenomenon, suggestions to improve the conditions for bowlers will be taken into account. Maybe you could write to them about these suggestions.

3/14/2006 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger airanand said...

after reading ur series of articles on the match, (and also tons of others), I am still left wondering whether what I watched was real.. it was sheer drama.. but as you say the bowlers were murdered.. but then there is fat chance of the ICC doing anything to correct this.. this match is now (and quite justifiably) the "greatest ODI ever played"!!

3/14/2006 10:23:00 PM  
Blogger Sri Harsha said...

Hey VK,

Came across u're blog accidentally and i kinda expressed the same kinda opinion regarding the impact of this historic match on One-day cricket, in my blog.

Gud to know tht there are people who share the same opinions.

Keep it up!

3/15/2006 10:33:00 PM  
Anonymous nikhil said...

The super-sub's been done away with.
Another thing you should have made a mention of is the limitation in the number of overs a bowler bowls.

Imagine a bowler like Muralitharan bowling 20 overs on a spinning track :))
That wont encourage wannabe bowlers though, since this would mean fewer opportunities to break into a team.

3/16/2006 03:16:00 AM  
Blogger Arun said...

I am still a fan of test cricket.. prefer watching it to the shorter versions like ODIs and 20-20 matches..

I appreciate ur concern for the bowlers, but likening a 20-20 game to a rape scene is going a little over-board don't u think.. i hope there aren't too many women who read that observation of urs..

3/26/2006 09:51:00 PM  

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