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Don’t crucify the bowlers at T20’s altar

india Updated: Oct 12, 2011 02:30 IST
Aakash Chopra. Champions League

836 runs in 78.3 overs scored in two consecutive Champions League matches in Bangalore - daunting figures. This run-fest started with some breathtaking stroke-play like David Warner's switch-hit sixes, but soon turned into annihilation of the bowlers.

No matter where they bowled or how they bowled, finding the fence was guaranteed. While it's convenient to brush off such lurid shows as T20's part and parcel, it would be naïve to ignore the fact that the balance was heavily skewed in favour of the batsmen.

If we're going to reduce bowlers to bowling machines brought in to get hit, the chances of kids taking up bowling are negligible. The thought bothers me and hence tweaking a few rules in the T20 format is the need of the hour.

More bouncers
In the current scenario, a bowler can bowl only one bouncer in an over. The moment he's done with that, the batsman gets the license to walk down the track, switch sides and take control of the proceedings, for he knows that another bouncer won't be tried. Further, if his attempted bouncer went over the batsman's head, it's not only declared a wide ball but also counted as one bouncer for the over. Since the batsman is given enough liberty, bowlers should also be allowed to bowl as many bouncers as they wish.

Fielding changes
I firmly believe that bowlers need more protection and cover in this form of the game. As radical as it may sound, the last six overs should allow the bowling side to put as many as six fielders on the fence. An extra fielder on the fence would make a huge difference in the way he'd operate. Now, with four fielders inside the circle, the bowler would need to bring his mid-off inside the ring , for he needs his fine-leg fielder on the fence. We've also seen bowlers getting their third-man fielder inside the ring to protect the mid-wicket boundary.

Boundary dimensions
It's in-vogue to bring the boundary ropes in by a few metres for the T20 format. We're made to believe that a game can only be exciting if lots of fours and sixes are hit, bowlers be damned. If we don't reduce the length of the pitch from 22 yards for T20 cricket (though it may not be a bad idea to challenge the batsmen), why tinker with the boundary ropes? It will only add more charm to viewing if the batsmen have to run twos and threes instead of stand-and-deliver 4s/6s.

No free-hits
Stop penalising the bowler so heavily for erring by a centimetre. Do we penalise the batsman when his shot doesn't go in the intended direction?

Since we don't, let's not be too harsh on the bowlers either. Overstepping is illegal and hence it's a no-ball, which yields an extra run and an extra ball besides not getting the wicket. That's enough punishment but giving a free-hit is to crucify. Sport is entertaining only if there's a contest. We must bring bowlers back into the game, for six-hitting competition will fail to captivate the audience.