22 December 2012

Innovations and rule changes in limited overs cricket

This article isn't going to be one ranting on like an old dog about the way the game is not like it used to be. I actually found myself watching some old limited overs footage and was simply recalling some of the changes that have occured within my time.

I started watching cricket in 1992 and given this was during World Cup time, when colour clothing was introduced for the international sides, I decided to take a look at a World Cup History book I had nestled on the book shelf and pick up the different format changes that have taken place.

Now, Test cricket as we know it has seen minor changes in comparison to that of limited overs cricket. I guess this would simply be to protect tradition and that the game has simply found a way to survive even with the world itself becoming a system for a more complex, fast paced environment.

Limited overs cricket has however had to adapt and is desperate to survive.
Although this has now been a topic of concern the last 5 years and brought up during the last two World Cups that have fallen within this time frame, it is a realistic debate.

Twenty20 cricket - the ODI challenger - brought about obvious changes to help speed up the game and, in some regards, enforced stricter rules for bowlers, making it that extra bit harder for them in a format which usually sees dominance from the men with the willow blade.

Some of these rules have been brought into the 50 overs form of the game.

So, here's a basic run down with the notable changes that have occurred since the first World Cup in 1975.

Now this may seem like more of a history of each World Cup but it has actually been the grounds for changes to be implemented and tested with all teams in one contest.

In 1975 the game was still developing for the limited overs concept, not just the format itself but for the teams as well! Sunil Gavaskar batted for 60 overs to score 37* runs in the first World Cup match. India were under the impression they could play for a draw.

To be fair by this time there were only 18 international limited overs games recorded.
As you may have picked up, it was 60 overs a side and East Africa was a featured side.

In 1979 it was still 60 overs a side with 12 overs per bowler and East Africa no longer featured, while Canada played their first World Cup.

It appears that the format was still seen as exciting and fresh and the only change by 1983 was regarding the Umpires. They were asked to be stricter with judgement of wides and no balls, something we see nowadays as a law that gives little room for error with bowlers, along with greater penalties!

An innovation in the 1983 World Cup also saw the inner ring, or "fielding circle", brought into the game, which was an oval shape 30 yards away from the stumps. Four fielders were to be inside during the duration of innings.

1987 saw the 50 overs format come to life and a bowler could only have a maximum of 10 overs in an innings, no longer 12.

The reason for this change was actually due to the daylight hours in the sub-continent not being as generous for 60 overs of play per side as it was during the English summer.
It would seem that fans were still finding it entertaining enough but by 1992 it would change!

The 1992 World Cup in Australia saw the direct influence of Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket.
Colour clothing was brought into the game with a colour identity given to each team which is still fairly relevant to this day.

White cricket balls were used with one at each end and fielding restrictions were implemented where only two men could be outside the inner fielding ring for the first 15 overs.

1992 also saw the third umpire make his debut in front of TV audiences for run outs (done so in Test cricket) but became a massive player in ODI cricket, while in 1996 the third umpire could be seen by his TV monitor when a decision was pending.

The complications of ties became a talking point in 1999 and as a result the 'net run-rate' became the determinant factor for a result. This is the law that ensured Australia went into the finals after a dramatic, cricketing classic, semi final clash against South Africa saw a tied result.

Due to Australia's net run rate being better, South Africa lucked out and made the Donald/ Kluesner run out even more dramatic and disastrous.

After 2003 saw the exit of South Africa in a rain affected match where Shaun Pollock and his support staff confused the teams calculations, better understanding and execution was seen to with the Duckworth-Lewis method to provide adjusted targets, taking into accounts all the various factors for rain delayed games.

As of 2007, Power Plays came into the mix and these were two mandatory 5 overs Power Plays.
This rule, further explained, is divided into 3 parts of 10, 5 and 5 overs, while batting and bowling Power Plays must be completed between the 16th and 40th overs of an innings.

The big one which added to entertainment value by 2011 was the front foot no-ball resulting in a free hit, which was taken straight out of Twenty20 cricket.
The bowlers still incur a one run penalty but also have to pick up the courage to bowl a "freebie" at the batsman who can only be dimissed via a run out.

On the topic of run outs, "runners" were no longer allowed in all forms of the games.
The runner would be used when a batsman was injured and was struggling to run between the wickets. A team mate would then come out, fully kitted, and act as his runner to communicate with the batting partner for any attempted running between the wickets.

This rule was implemented in 2011.

It is also deemed fair that a bowler can run out a non-striker who is unfairly backing up, also known as 'Mankading', which occured recently in the ICC u19 World Cup.

The innovative change has been the DRS (Decision Review System) and this was used in the 2011 World Cup where each team could challenge a decision.

I guess we will now wait on Super Overs to be brought into ODI cricket and perhaps further subtle changes will see survival of 50 overs cricket?

Split-innings was trialled and tested at State level in Australia but has since been pulled.

So I guess the conclusion we can draw is that like most things, change in inevitable but its essentially how that change is managed and making sure it still stays relevant to the game with respect to tradition and supporter/ player appeal.

Do you think these changes have improved the game?

I most certainly feel that the fornat is fine and the biggest killer is when too many ODIs get played, basically overkill cricket. If the format is moderated within scheduling (especially World Cups) then it has a greater chance of survival and I guess marketing appeal as well.

The changes have resulted in tougher tactical execution and has improved the pace of the game in many regards, especially with slow over rate fines against the captains.

Many of the changes have been positive and hopefully the format will continue to exist and find ways to survive, as some young Australian is going to have to try find the time to chase down the following batting stats...

463 ODIs, 18,426 runs, 49 centuries, HS 200*.

Well done on a splendid ODI career Sachin Tendulkar aka The Little Master
What changes he saw during his playing time in the format!

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Shoaib Ali said...

a good piece of work there.. you forgot to mention the introduction of supersubs in the format.. ODI cricket can only survive if the number of t20 internationals are reduced.. also the intro of domestic t20 leagues is also kiling the interest and viewership of ODI's..

Ian said...

Hi Shoaib,

Thanks mate, was hoping for a few additional changes from the readers.

Got a view mentions via Twitter and Facebook.

I have a strong belief, having also chatted with a few players, that ODI cricket needs to be reduced (no more 5 series ODIs) while T20 should compliment the series.

I highly rate T20 as a QUALITY driven format but it has been abused, particularly the IPL which does not seem to have benefited Indian cricket much over the last 2 seasons.

The point is to raise awareness for State cricketers and increase fan bases at the level.

Of course return on investment is required but lets see.