New ODI rules: Change and effect
In what could be a 'last-ditch effort' to bail out 50-over cricket, the ICC has introduced yet another set of rules to liven up the otherwise dull proceedings.
The move was inevitable to reinstate dwindling viewer interest levels, especially after the advent of T20. This also speaks volumes about something fundamentally plaguing the format, else what could be the need to chop and change so much and so often?
The bigger question though is if these modifications would reap the desired results, and what would be their larger impact on the game.
Two new balls
Instead of changing the old ball with another old ball, which is in a slightly better condition at the end of 34th over, the game is played with two brand new balls, one for each end.
While the introduction of two new balls would do the faster men a whole lot of good, it will downsize the role of spinners. This would compel the slower bowlers to master the art of bowling with a relatively new ball. Also, the art of reverse-swing will be hampered severely; for the ball might not get old enough for that even till the very end.
Two bouncers an over
This much-awaited rule has further benefited the fast bowlers, for no longer can a batsman charge down the track after one bouncer till the over is out of the way. This will keep the batsman honest and also test their ability to deal with the short-pitched stuff.
5 Fielders inside the 30-yard circle
This rule is the most contentious of the lot, for it will change the dynamics of the game. While having an extra fielder in the circle can be used as an aggressive tactic to plug the holes and stop easy single, in reality it will put spinners under enormous pressure to stay relevant.
Since pitches for the 50-over format are perfect for batting, the only way for a spinner to take wickets is to be deceive in flight and coax the batsman to get caught in the deep. But with the new rule, he will have to sacrifice one such attacking option.
The writer is a former India opener