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Wonky rules ruin spirit of Cup

The World Cup is guided by rules that complicate simple issues and has thus ruined the spirit in which the game is played.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2003 19:23 IST
Binoo K. John
Binoo K. John

For a tournament which is held over two months, the World Cup is guided by rules that complicate simple issues and has thus ruined the spirit in which the game is played.

Apart from Australia and India every team participating in the World Cup has been at the receiving end of complicated mathematical calculations. It is not athleticism or skill that has played the prominent part in the tournament so far. The rules and the rain have conspired to make the tournament rankings so far, a joke.

South Africa and West Indies have reason enough to complain about the lack of extra days to make up for rain. It is diabolic that South Africa had to lose out due to rain and that one run should stand in the way of their entering the Super Six.

Kenya which qualified by getting forfeited points, has reason to complain (though they haven’t) that New Zealand’s run rate remains unaffected due to boycott.

Sri Lanka formally complained to the ICC about this matter. Their grouse was the same: teams which boycott matches have their run rate unaffected.

Since the run rate is unaffected, a team leading in the league rounds, can boycott a match on some pretext, to see that a weak team enters the Super Six.

England lodged a protest against being docked 4 points for not going to Zimbabwe. The ICC rightly rejected the claim but what about going ahead and doing something about the run rates as well?

The biggest blunder of all that the organizers committed is not keeping an extra day to make up for rain or storm, even though nearly four weeks were allotted for the league rounds to be completed. Extra days have been allotted in the Super Six round but here too the whole game is replayed not continued.

South Africa just needed one more run against Sri Lanka to be declared winner. But how were the players out there in the middle to know? Are players expected to play or go to the middle with palmtops so that they can calculate the runs in between overs?

It is high time that the Duckworth-Lewis system which is mathematically and logically correct be abandoned for a simple system. The best way of course is to continue the game on the next day.

If that is not possible a tie-breaker rule similar to that in soccer can be easily implemented instead of letting mathematics decide the winner.

Even if it is raining heavily the tie-breaker can be played. One over each and whoever hits the maximum boundaries (no running allowed) should be declared winner. Any batsmen and any bowler can be selected. Points deducted for getting out. Will any team have reason to complain?

Any other such tie-breaker rule can easily be implemented and the Duckworth-Lewis system can be given a decent burial.

The problem about the system is that though justice is done logically, justice is not seen to have been done. This is why South Africa which did not boycott any match and has the best net run rate, is out of the tournament on points, while England and New Zealand which boycotted matches against the spirit of sport have qualified again on points.

Another big anomaly is that the last rounds of the league are played on different days. Alec Stewart has rightly suggested that it is too much of tension for players to wait for two days to figure out where they stand.

Much needs to be done to make a tournament like this free of rules and full of competitive spirit.

In a tournament in which some superlative performances have been seen, it is a shame that some top teams are left wondering whether justice has been denied to them.

First Published: Mar 04, 2003 19:23 IST