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'Innovate but not at the cost of skills'

india Updated: Feb 18, 2007 15:32 IST

Indian captain Rahul Dravid says that cricket administrators should ensure "not to eliminate certain skills" from the game while innovating in order to attract more and more spectators to the ground.

Making this observation in a foreword to broadcaster-writer Ashis Ray's book One-dayCricket - The Indian Challenge, released by Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar in New Delhi on Saturday evening, Dravid says that administrators should make sure that a fine balance is maintained between batsmen and bowlers.

"There's really no harm in trying to make the game more exciting for the public, in order to attract a wider audience," he writes in the book, published by Harper Collins.

"But you want to be careful not to eliminate certain skills from the game. A lot of time innovations tend to become one-sided; you don't want batting sides to score 375-400 runs regularly, taking the bowlers completely out of the picture."

Ray, now based in England and CNN's first South Asia bureau chief in 1992, himself throws up a few suggestions to make one-day cricket more balanced.

How about the captain losing the toss in one-day international cricket being allowed to change one player in the playing eleven or one bowler being allowed to bowl one over more than his quota of 10 overs, he argues.

As per the rules, opposing captains exchange their final side just before the toss in one-days and Test matches. But Ray feels that if the captain losing the toss is allowed to change one player after the toss, it will lend balance between the two teams.

"The International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) could consider amending this regulation so as to allow the sides losing the toss to make one switch in their XI," he writes in the preface.

"They would, thus, have the option of playing an extra bowler (perhaps a seamer to exploit morning conditions) if they field first or an extra batsman if they are sent in to bat in adverse circumstances."

Ray says he would like to see a debate on these current rules.

Ray, who has also worked with the BBC's famous Test Match Special commentary team and is a veteran commentator and writer, says he has made these suggestions in the background of increasing stakes in cricket.

"With so much money at stake, the spin of the coin should, ideally, not be over-influenced in any match (and this includes Tests)."

The book traces the history of limited overs cricket matches that started between English counties in early 1960s, and gradually all other countries embraced the new shorter version of the game.

The book has 10 chapters, including the Kapil Dev-led Indian team's glorious World Cup triumph in 1983. Ray commentated on the India-West Indies final of the tournament at Lord's, London.

There is also chapter on a preview of the upcoming World Cup in the West Indies in March-April.

The book, priced at Rs 295, traced the genesis of one-day cricket. They include India's pre-1983 World Cup performance, especially the 'turning point' win against the West Indies in Albion, the West Indies, in March 1983 - about three months before the World Cup was played in England.

The 386-page book is written in anecdotal style, mostly "first-hand" as it claims, and also includes scorecards of important matches.

It also touches upon the infamous Sourav Ganguly-Greg Chappell controversy that arose on the Indian team's tour of Zimbabwe in late 2005.

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