Imperative need to change some cricket rules

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England’s world cup preparation was relentless. Ever since they were unceremoniously dumped out of the world cup 2015, the ECB, the English Captain, and the English players had one target- to be ODI World Champions.

They succeeded in their mission. Congratulations, Eoin Morgan and your boys.

England’s World Cup win was not achieved without drama. They were undeniably lucky in the final when a Guptill throw, intended to try and run out Ben Stokes hit his bat and went for 4 overthrows, giving Stokes the most bizarre six in cricket history. Umpire Dharmasena grossly erred in giving Stokes 6 runs and not 5. A correct call would have seen Adil Rashid at the striker’s end. Later at the end of 50 overs, the 2 teams ended in a tie. They played a Super Over which ended in a tie as well. Thereafter, England were declared World Champions since they had hit more boundaries.

There was a lot of post-match discussions that the trophy should have been shared. My view is that such a suggestion itself is erroneous and unacceptable.

England have won the World Cup fair and square for the following reasons;

First and foremost, the rules of the competition were decided before the tournament started and accepted by all teams and captains. It was just England’s good luck that they were the team to have hit more boundaries and not New Zealand. Secondly, Dharmasena’s gross error first pointed out by an ESPN-Cricinfo article and then by eminent Umpire Simon Taufel and now accepted by Dharmasena himself was an unfortunate error on the field of play.

It was just England’s luck that they benefited. It would, however, be stretching the imagination to conclude that England got a run more and the match was tied, so they would have lost by a run. Or that Adil Rashid could not have risen to the occasion. Who knows; Maybe Adil would have hit a huge 4 to win the match for England or taken a single and given the strike to Stokes who would have finished it off. Various permutations/combinations are there and not simply possibilities assuming a New Zealand win.

That apart, after accepting that rules are non-negotiable and England won the World Cup fairly as per existing rules, there is an urgent need to revisit some rules and change them expeditiously to improve the game.

The four changes I have in mind are as follows;

Most importantly the rule that the World Cup winner will be decided on the basis of boundaries has to go. Cricket is a game played to score runs and take wickets and hitting boundaries or sixes as are other aspects quite incidental and by-products, without being the main aim. The standard rule which was there for generations was that in case of a tie the team scoring less runs is considered the winner. Why this was done away with no one knows. Definitely, the Super Over was 1st introduced as an “exciting” way to break the deadlock and then the “boundary rule” was inducted with perhaps a thought that it won’t be necessary. But unfortunately, it was.

Now that we have seen what a farcical and disastrous rule it is, let the ICC discard it straight away. The very fact that the losing captain Kane did not know the reason for their loss speaks volumes. Even the winning captain Morgan accepted that he did not want the win to happen in this manner and he felt troubled. Now, what is the way out? Sachin Tendulkar says a second super over is the solution. However what if a second super over too results in a tie?

My solution is simple. If at the end of 50 overs each both teams score the same runs, declare them joint winners. Super Over is a T20 concept and importing a T20 concept into a World Cup Final of 100 overs, that too played by two teams who have reached there after an intense 2 months of hard cricket and years of preparation is a big no. Incidentally, if the trophy can be shared if rains intervene and match is called off, then why not after a wonderful game in which two teams have proved to be equal. ICC should think about this.

For a moment, let us digress and go back to another World Cup 12 years back, the 2007 T20 World Cup. At the league level, India and Pakistan tied a match which was decided by a Bowl-out. Both teams were required to have 3 bowlers each bowl at the stumps and more if required until the team with more hits at the stumps would win. Pakistan went in with 3 quick bowlers who missed while India went in with 3 slow bowlers Bhajji, Uthappa and Sehwag who hit timber. India won the match.

That was a preposterous way of winning a match. It shows how casually important decisions are taken at the world level. However to the credit to ICC the rule was consigned to the dustbin. So also the boundaries rule needs to be cast away as quick as possible. The world cup winning captain Morgan who accepted that he felt troubled at the way they won would probably be the 1st to applaud.

The second rule needed to be revisited and changed is the rule that runs are awarded for overthrows coming off a batsman’s bat or body. Now we have overthrows because it is a penalty for adventurism and to prevent needless throws. Otherwise, fielders will throw each and every time if they know there is no penalty involved. It is for this reason that even if the ball hits the stumps and the batsman is in, he is not out and he gets extra runs as well for lucky ricochets.

However, there is no logic for penalising the fielder if accidentally the ball hits the batsman or his bat and goes to the boundary. Incidentally, if the ball does not go to the boundary cricket etiquette is that the batsmen do not run. So extending it to no further runs for an overthrow which hits the batsman or his bat is logical.

The third rule which I would like to be changed is the leg-bye rule. Certainly, byes need to remain as otherwise the skill of wicket-keeping already rapidly decreasing will plummet further. However, leg byes have no logic. Rather the bowler and the fielding side is unfairly penalized for no fault of theirs.

Finally, in case of gross errors by the on-field umpires, I would like suo-moto intervention by the 3rd and 4th umpire, if required by their quick consultation amongst themselves. Let us take the example of the wrongful dismissal of Jason Roy in the world-cup semifinals through a blunder by umpire Dharmasena. Say the English team would have collapsed after that. It would have been a shame. If technology is available, I see no reason why it should not be constructively used. In any case, the potential result of a match should not be allowed to be affected by errors which can easily be corrected.

These are my views that while England won the World Cup in a fair manner as per existing rules, the rules need to be modified and amended and the above 4 suggestions in my view need to be taken up and the rules changed.

Do readers agree?

 

About author

The blogger, Ritesh Misra, is an IRS Officer currently based in Mumbai. He tweets @riteshmisra. His hobbies are sports, films, and music.

 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Pragativadi and Pragativadi.com does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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