Cricket’s bias towards batsmen grows
Bowlers like Dilhara Fernando beware. They will
have to be one hundred percent certain not to send down a no-ball especially if
it is in a crucial stage of a match because the next delivery will constitute a
free hit to the batsman without the fear of being dismissed.
This is one of the changes the ICC has made in playing conditions at its annual
meeting on Friday. What this decision does suggest is cricket’s bias towards
batsmen keeps growing with no respite for the bowlers.
The ICC on Friday okayed a number of changes to playing conditions. Accordingly,
if a bowler bowls a front foot no-ball in an ODI, the following delivery will be
deemed a free hit and the batsman cannot be dismissed by the bowler from that
delivery. The changes would come into effect from October 1, ICC said in a
It was also decided that an additional fielder would be allowed outside the
fielding circle during the second or third power play in an ODI.
In case a One-day innings is reduced, the numbers of overs making up each of the
three power plays shall be reduced proportionately. There will also be a
mandatory change of ball after 35 overs of each innings in an ODI. The
replacement will be a clean used ball.
ICC also decided that the minimum boundary sizes in all international matches
will be increased with the square boundary measuring at least 150 yards from one
side of the ground to the other (minimum 65 yards on one side; previous total
minimum size was 140 yards); and the straight boundaries 70 yards at both ends
(previous minimum was 65 yards); maximum boundaries to be used allowing for
three yards between boundary rope and advertising boards up to a maximum of 90
yards from the centre of the pitch.
Can anyone blame the bowler if he resorts to other means of dismissing a batsman
especially when the odds are heavily weighed against him?
While the new change will make bowlers vary of bowling too many no-balls it only
adds to their burden.
When the power-plays were first introduced in 2005 Sri Lanka struggled to come
to terms with it and was thrashed 6-1 by India. But slowly but surely Sri Lanka
regained their composure. They experimented with their batting line-ups and
promoted Mahela Jayawardene to no. 3. It proved successful in England where they
made a clean sweep 5-0 of the one-day series for the first time. But in
successive contests that move did not work right and they had to abandon the
The 2007 World Cup saw Jayawardene who was struggling for runs at no. 3 drop
down one slot and recover his lost form much to the benefit of his team.
Time will tell how successful the free hit would be or whether it would follow
the same fate as the super-sub.
Coach needn’t be a superstar
Australian captain Ricky Ponting came out with a defining point when he
stated that a cricket coach need not be a superstar. What Ponting was hinting at
was India’s appointment of former Australian captain Greg Chappell which ended
in disaster for the Asian giants when they were knocked out of the first round
of the 2007 World Cup.
Citing the example of former coach John Buchanan, Ponting said: “What a team
needs is a man manager. Someone who manages time well thinks outside the sphere
of cricket and challenges the players’ everyday. That’s what Buchanan was very
good at. He helped me as a player and as a captain. And he did all that without
ever having played Test cricket. A coach doesn’t need to be a superstar.”
Ponting said the critical acclaim Australian coaches enjoyed should be put down
to the stupendous success of the champion team itself.
“If the national side hadn’t been playing as well as it had been doing over the
past few years, I don’t think Australian coaches would have been much sought
after,” he said. Sri Lanka is one country that has benefited immensely by
contracting Australian coaches. In the past 12 years they’ve had four – Dav
Whatmore, Bruce Yardley, John Dyson and Tom Moody, all of whom had a hand in the
country’s success at both levels of the game. The tradition continues with
another Australian Trevor Bayliss due to become Sri Lanka’s next coach. He takes
over in September. What is most noticeable among these coaches that Sri Lanka’s
had over the years is that none of them were of superstar status.