The recently concluded ICC World Cup 2015 was one of the best World Cup tournaments in terms sheer entertainment value. The tournament saw the highest amount of sixes hit- 463, 3 scores of 400+, 2 double hundreds and many more batting records like AB de Villiers’ fastest 150, Martin Guptill’s 237* and others.
Many of the former and current cricketers like MS Dhoni, voiced their concern about the current ODI rules and regulations which handicap the fielding the bowling sides, with just 3 fielders outside in power-play and 4 fielders in non power-play overs, 2 new balls at each end have severely tilted the balance in the batting sides favor. Add the heavy bats that the batsmen use these days which are all sweet spots, leading to a former cricketer saying that you don’t need to be a good batsman to hit sixes these days.
Here are 4 suggestions that can tilt the balance in to a more even contest:
1. Start the innings with 1 new ball and introduce another in 25th over.
Currently the rule allows use of 2 new balls from each of the ends. This means even at the end of 50 overs, each ball is just 25 overs old and hard enough to be good enough for fast bowlers. This takes out the spinners, who require old and soft balls to get some grip and spin. This also takes the reverse swing out of the game, as the ball needs to get a bit scuffed up to get the ball to swing.
Use of 2 new balls means none of those things happen. The balls remain hard enough to be hit out of the ground in the death overs. Spinners are also forced to bowl straight and fast, since it does not spin even from 26-45 overs.
Use of one new ball till 30th overs would bring in spinners and make the game more interesting with teams like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka who have quality spinners in their ranks and make the batsmen work for runs in the middle overs, where spinners come into the scene. It will also give some breathing space to fast bowlers as such a ball would also reverse swing.
2. Change beginning Power-plays from 10 to 8 and the last to 7 from 5.
Current Power-plays are from 1-10 overs and the next batch of 5 overs will automatically start after the 35th over, but no later than 40th over.
The World Cup saw teams take it easy in the first 10 overs, to keep wickets in hand to score freely in the last 15-20 overs. Only anomaly to that rule was New Zealand, who had Brendon McCullum going berserk in the first 10 overs. Teams usually were happy with 40-50 runs for loss of 1 wicket, which was completely different from the last World Cup held in 1992, when teams went berserk in first 15 overs, scoring runs freely.
This can be done by shortening the mandatory power play to 7 overs and extended the batting power play to 8 overs, giving teams more assistance and options to change their game plan. It will also give bowlers more encouragement to bowl better and try new things.
3. Have more than 5 fielders in last 15 overs outside 30 yard circle.
Currently there are 3 fielders outside the 30 yard circles in any power-play. While there are only 4 fielders outside the 30 yard circle in non-power play overs. This gives the fielding captain a headache where to place fielders, especially on big grounds, which provide lots of empty places.
Allowing 5 fielders in the last 15 overs will give bowlers more protection from rampaging batsmen in the death overs and they will have to have skills to pierce some clever field placings. The captains would also be able to use spinners in the last 15 overs to great effect with protection in outfield with 5 fielders allowed outside the 30 yard circle.
4. Give 2 bowlers at-least 12 overs instead of 10.
Currently the maximum no.of overs that a bowler can bowl in an ODI innings are 10. That means 5 bowlers can be used to bowl out the 50 overs, giving captains options to use other bowlers to complete the 50 overs if they don’t have 5 front line bowlers. This is where most of the teams falter, exposing a part-time bowler to be taken advantage of by batsmen in the middle overs. Also if a front line bowler is having a bad day, the captain needs to find another option to fill his overs, leaking more and more runs.
Why not give the bowling side options of bowling 2 of their bowlers 12 overs each and rest only 8 overs. This would encourage teams to play 5 good bowlers instead of 4 front line bowlers and 1 all-rounder or part-time bowler. This will mean if a bowler is having a really bad day, the captain has the options of making him bowl only 8 overs and finish his quota early.
The captain also has the option of bowling the bowler who is doing wonderfully well for 2 extra overs than usual, giving him option of attacking more. With the level of fitness the bowlers show these days, they can easily bowl 12 extra balls, and that is not mandatory every match, it will depend on the captain which bowler will bowl 12 and which will bowl 8 overs.
This will test the batting side who may have players vulnerable to a certain opposition bowler, to do more than just best to deal with that particular bowler.
So these are 4 of probably many suggestions to make ODIs more exciting and watchable with the meteoric rise of T20s.