Complicate Cricket - Why not?

Published: Thursday, July 5, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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For the uninitiated this is what the game of cricket quite simply is!

You have two sides one, out in the field and one in.
Each man that's in the side that goes in goes out and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out.
When they are all out the side that's out comes in and the side that's been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out.
When both sides have been in and out including not outs, that's the end of the game.

Now, that you have understood that bit, lets begin to understand why this game means the world to millions. Take for instance Test Cricket - Try and explain to an American that for five days this game of cricket is played with approximately three, two and a half hour sessions. When the side that goes out, tries to get the side thats in, out and all that jazz. Believe me they will not understand, because for them, life is just not cricket, but for millions, life is cricket.

For those of us who are in love with the game realize that even though the game is complicated enough, the governing body, will make amends to adjust the game to changing times. From the longer format, came the shorter 60 overs a side version. Many critics rubbished the idea, as this was seen as a blasphemous turn of events for the purist form of the sport of cricket. But with the excitement going out of Test cricket, with the lack of results and seemingly boring draws, the order of the day was to spike up the game and from the already truncated 60 overs, the present 50 overs a side format of cricket came into being. Ofcourse within the shorter format, there were additions and new rules that went on to add new dimensions.

For a long period limited overs cricket remained untouched and its popularity grew by leaps and bounds. With every world cup, the new kings of one day cricket are crowned and seen in a new light as champions of the shorter version of the game. But for the purist, Test cricket remains as the main benchmark to judge the caliber of a good cricketer.

Many argue that the new rules and alterations that are made to shorter format of the game only help in making Test cricket more interesting and appealing. The cricketer gets to exhibit skills of a new kind. From the batsmans point of view, he gets to exercise shots that he rarely uses in a Test match innings, and for the bowler, the challenge of getting his victim in ten overs, makes him one aggressive being.

One day cricket is adjusting to the relatively new rules of power plays and has thankfully done away with the super substitute angle. Power plays are not the easiest to comprehend, but the cricket lover must accept them as a tool to make life for the captain of the side more interesting. Earlier, a batsman had 15 overs to score runs rapidly, as only two fielders were allowed outside the 30 yard circle.

But now its the age of Powerplays where the batsman has not a bat but more like a sledgehammer as he piles on the runs. In a nutshell, in a 50 over match the captain of the side has to use three power plays. The first one is compulsory, and its the first ten overs of the match. In this period only two fielders are allowed to be outside the 30 yard circle, with two fielders who have to be in catching positions. The second one is a block of 5 overs where the fielding restrictions apply, but there is no need for two fielders to be in catching positions. This can be taken at any point in the match and the third block of five, can also be used by the captain as and when he wishes. The main objective of introducing these powerplays was to add more cricketing drama and to make the captain a lot more effective.

Power plays have been accepted and now in the recent most rules change, there are some more issues to deal with. In a game that is heavily loaded in favour of the batsman, the bowlers now have to be more vigilant and conscious about the front foot no ball. If they bowl one, then the batsman gets a free hit, which means that the batsman will not be given out on the next ball, if the case arises. This has sparked off a debate with the purists of the game, saying that cricket is being reduced to 'mickey mouse' level and that the bowlers get further sidelined as the whipping boys. The other school of thought is that it helps bowlers to be more disciplined and aids in the overall picture of the game.

The other change is that in the powerplays two and three, one additional fielder will be allowed to stand outside the 30 yard circle, making it three. In another move it was decided that the boundary will be stretched by ten yards for the square boundaries and 5 yards at each bowling end. And the final move was to change the white ball after 35 overs, for it tends to get very dirty. But what this means, is that the reverse swing angle that crops up towards the end of the game for those hungry pace bowlers, will now not exist!

Change they say is a constant, but the authorities need to sit back and think as to whether changes need to occur in a game that is already one complicated series of events. For lets face it, if you dont grow with the game, it is not easy to understand it. And with these added rules, confusion will reign.

Why complicate cricket, when life already is? But then again life is cricket or isnt it ?


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