Pitfalls of the new rules ... or clueless teams ... or both!
To me, Australia's thrashing of England in the second game
of the NatWest Challenge, which almost mirrored what happened in game one
, more or less confirmed that either the new ICC rules
will be a total flop or that none of the teams have a clue about how to make the best use. Of course, Australia did find a loophole in the substitution rules when they confused everyone
following the first game when first Hogg came on as a 'normal' substitute for Shane Watson who had bowled three overs even though he was named as the 'super sub'. Then Australia chose to use the super-substitution and Hogg was named as the super sub in place of Hayden. But Hayden didnt go off the field because he was then named the substitute for the injured Shane Watson! None of the other substitutes have really contributed anything. Solanki fielded for around 20 overs in game 1. He didnt get to bat when England's top order had been blown away at Lord's since Flintoff and Collingwood had steadied the situation. Brad Haddin was swapped with McGrath after Australia began their chase at Lord's but there was really little chance of him getting to bat.
It does seem to me that the teams are approaching the 10-5-5 over batches in much the same manner as they did earlier. Earlier, they didnt have a choice. They had to bowl 15 overs at a stretch with field restrictions in place. On almost every occasion, barring during Australia's innings at Lord's, the fielding restrictions were applied for twenty overs at a stretch. It is likely that the weather conditions dictated it, but it was too much of a coincidence.
It also seems to me that if the new rules on substitutes stay, then teams will inevitably pick a batsman as the substitute and opt to bowl first on winning toss. In case they do lose the toss and are put in to bat, they will be in some trouble but they will have the option of bringing in the extra batsman in place of a say a bits and pieces all-rounder or some bowler who is unlikely to have too much of an impact given the weather and pitch conditions. For e.g. swap the batsman with a pace bowler who could struggle when bowling second in great batting conditions. If they do win the toss and bowl first, the batsman can be very useful in a chase.
This is why I mentioned earlier that the rules should not require teams to name the substitute before the toss. We definitely need to reduce the importance of a chancy event such as a toss
. One of the options I've come across is to allow teams to name 12 players before the toss and pick the substitute after. There could be real trouble if a side picked a bowler as a substitute and they were sent in to bat in seaming conditions. My guess is that the new rules will put the bits-n-pieces allrounder out of the game and encourage teams to pick genuine all-rounders or specialist batsmen/bowlers as the substitute.
I've seen a few critics pan the new rules saying that cricket is a game played between teams of 11 and that making it 12 changes things fundamentally. I dont think we should stick to our dogmas. What is the big deal about 11? Isnt it likely that the number was arrived at fairly randomly or by chance? In fact, although in a different context, I am all for tweaking Twenty20 to let only six players bat
and increase the number of overs per bowler to six rather than five. I dont see why one-day cricket cannot be tweaked. I think the problem is that these rules need to be tried and tested out in domestic competitions or "A" team level games rather than in international matches.Mike Atherton
wants the new rules to be given some more time before everyone criticizes them while Tim de Lisle
reckons that these changes, and several others made by the ICC, are totally unnecessary.
Flintoff batted superbly at Lord's and it seemed like he was finally finding form. But the firm of Andrew and Kevin
have not really had any partnership, much to the dismay and disappointment of those who were salivating at the prospect of 200 runs being added between them in 30 overs. Flintoff got out just 13 short of his century. It did seem like a selfless shot at that point in time, especially in the context of Hayden's claims last year
about sub-continental batsmen being more worried about individual landmarks compared to others. But there was a sense of recklessness about it too. Flintoff got out in the 47th over when he really should have hung around till the 50th over. It was far more likely that he and Geraint Jones got quick runs than Jones and the tail who managed 21 runs in 3.3 overs. Eventually Australia didnt really sweat too much over the runs, getting them in the 45th over so perhaps it may not even have mattered. But he'd done too much of the hard work and he should have aimed for twin benefits: do more damage and get his century.