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    May 18, 2005

    ICC Cricket Committee comes up with recommendations list

    The meeting of the ICC's cricket committee has culminated in recommendations related to bats, substitutes, one-day cricket rules, technology and umpires.

    It recommends setting up of yet another expert panel, undoubtedly made up of jobless ex-cricketers, to work with the MCC and bat manufacturers to prevent ongoing tussles from resurfacing.

    Another suggestion is to increase the number of overs for which fielding restrictions are in place in one-day games. This obviously will further increase the already prevalent advantage to batsmen in this form of the game.

    As pointed out three months ago here, the idea behind tinkering around with one-day cricket should be to make the game a more even contest between bat and ball. Increasing the number of overs of field restrictions to 20, albeit in multiple blocks to force tactical changes from fielding sides, comes at the expense of making the one-day game even more tilted in favour of batsmen. Isn't it boring to see so games where scores in excess of 280 are chased down with ridiculous ease?

    Sample this. Twelve out of the top 20 run-chases in one-day cricket have been in the last five years. The 20th highest run chase was achieved when the target was 293. New Zealand's win in 1983 at #16, when they successfully chased England's total of 296, appears surreally ancient now. That is in fact the only entry from the 1980s in the top 25 run chases of all time.

    If the aim was to provoke strategy changes from fielding sides when batsmen ran amuck, keep the number of overs for fielding restrictions intact but split it up into blocks of three. That'd mean more thinking from batting and fielding sides in addition to not increasing the number of overs available for the batsmen to throw the bat around.

    Another suggestion was to let substitutes bat and bowl. That is, in my opinion, a good option to have for captains. Australia already allows 12-player teams in the ING Cup, the domestic one-day tournament. But why rule that player out for the rest of the match? So you could have a team choose to substitute their worst fielder, who is also one of their best batsman, after he has completed his innings. So he would never come out to field. I know it is tactics, but it wouldn't stand up to scrutiny in a game played in the street. Of course, this also means that international cricket begins to look like street/gully/backyard cricket since we've obviously played with rules of "baby over" when a bowler is bowling worse than today's West Indian bowlers or abruptly terminating the innings of someone batting slower than Ravi Shastri used to.

    I think the best recommendation proposed is where the on-field umpires are be allowed to contact the third umpire for all decisions where he feels there is an element of doubt. He retains the authority to make the final decision, possibly basing his decision on the TV umpire's feedback and conviction. I really dont care if it slows the game down. If the umpires get the decisions right, that is a step in the right directions. There are other ways of ensuring better over rates, including penalties and bans.

    I find it odd that the proposal to have two neutral umpires in one-dayers as well was shot down. Does the fact that it is in place in test cricket mean that the ICC does not consider one-day cricket to be as important as test cricket? Yes, you do have to reckon with umpires being unable to participate in games played in their own countries. But if the ICC is confident that having two neutral umpires has done a world of good in test matches, why not extend it to one-dayers as well? Are they sceptical about the ability of their panel of umpires? Then that is what they ought to fix.

    Comments by Malcolm Conn, Angus Fraser, John Buchanan, Simon Hughes, David Hopps, BBC Sport, Derek Pringle, Mike Atherton, Greg Baum and Tim de Lisle.

    Thus spake Jagadish @ 1:38 PM |
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