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Common sense the missing element in ICC rule tweaking

The ICC executives’ committee met in Dubai and decided to allow two more appeals, post 80 overs of an innings. What were they thinking? Nilankur Das writes.

cricket Updated: Sep 20, 2013 01:22 IST

I am reminded of a couple of stories my grandma used to tell me.

A man had dropped something in his room and couldn’t find it because it was completely dark inside. So he went out in the street and kept looking for it. “There is no light inside and so no point looking for it there,” the man would say and I would burst out laughing. How can someone be so foolish?

During the Ashes, England’s Stuart Broad was allowed to remain at the crease after the umpire missed a thick edge which was caught and Australia were unable to appeal, having used up their quota of reviews.

To ensure such things don’t happen, the ICC executives’ committee met in Dubai and decided to allow two more appeals, post 80 overs of an innings. What were they thinking? Did they seriously believe that just because Australia ran out of appeals, Broad continued to bat on?

Wrong assumption
Broad kept on batting because the television umpire did not have the authority to blurt out on his walkie-talkie to the on-field umpire: “Wake up, dude.” And instead of dishing out a bit more rope to the third umpire, the ICC has added two more appeals, not realising that running out of appeals was not why it happened in the first place.

The other story goes like this. Some people were crossing a river on a boat. There was a madman among them, sitting quietly on one side. As the boat reached mid river, an extra-cautious man reminded the madman to keep sitting quietly and not rock the boat. Immediately, the madman got up and started jumping up and down and the boat tipped over.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India was playing its ‘spin strength’ card when it opposed the continued use of new balls from both ends in One-day Internationals. ICC’s response was half-measure, allowing only one new ball to be used for matches that are reduced to 25 overs or less per side from the start.

Be sensible
A cricket match is generally reduced by rain and it is safe to assume the outfield is never bone dry in such situations. A slippery ball becomes difficult to grip and a soggy ball doesn’t move as much. The bowling side wants to keep the ball as dry as possible. Two new balls from either end under such circumstances would actually help bowlers get a better grip. Instead, ICC did just what the madman would do.

The ICC’s constant rule changes often make little sense. The powerplay rules in ODIs have been revised again and again. Every time the idea was to make the middle overs more happening.

Field restriction rules too have been revised to death. But overs 16 to 40 have continued to be that of consolidation. What will the ICC do now? Will they instruct bowlers to maintain a particular length or line for a particular set of overs?