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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Is the bowler required any more?

With the Twenty20 version catching up, there is a possibility that the cricket game will be part of the Olympics in the near future. Each match can fit into 3 hours, a little more than a football game. This will ensure that the game will have newer audiences, in newer countries. This version of the game also suits the countries who have one or two players who can perform well as the duration is greatly reduced.

One more factor will surely make the game livelier to the Olympic audience. And that is the more worrying aspect of the huge totals. 400s are easily reached in the 50-over game when a team like India plays a lightweight team like Hong Kong. Small grounds, heavy bats, flat pitches, rules supporting the bowlers have ensured that the batters always have unfair advantage. That is where the question needs to be asked? Does a high-scoring game qualify to be an entertaining one? Of course, it also means that the bowlers need to introduce more variety into their game but why is such a necessity not thrust upon the batsmen?

The ICC needs to desperately introduce additional rules that benefit the bowlers. Otherwise, there is a likelihood that the games will have fewer audiences, just like the ones noticed in the ongoing Asia Cup. Some of the suggestions that could be looked at include:
  • Removing the rule for bouncer/short-pitched balls in an over. To start with, the rules can be relaxed to have 2 balls of this nature in an over. This rule will make the batsman wary of the bowler's variety. Now, it is very easy for the batsman to relax once the first short-pitched ball is bowled.
  • The fielding restrictions should be relaxed. Instead of having 3 Power Plays, the game can have just one Power Play of 10 overs. If the batsmen are good enough to clear the field, it shouldnt matter if the fielders are within the 30 yard circle, right?
  • The over restrictions for a bowler should be removed. If a player is capable of bowling 20 overs in a spell of 3.5 hours, he should be allowed to do so. This will ensure that if a bowler is on a good rythm, he can bowl for a longer period.
  • The SuperSub rule should be re-introduced with the option of the captains selecting the sub after the toss. That would mean that a bowler can be included in the team only for his bowling skills and then replaced by a batsman in the next innings. Maybe give an option to have a maximum of 2 Super Subs per team.
  • Runs that go off the helmet/body of the batsman should be disallowed. This is very unfair for the bowler at the moment, as he is forced to give runs even if he has beaten the batsman by his guile.
Unless such measures are introduced, the bowler can be replaced by a bowling machine or even be replaced by a pitcher (base-ball style) - there is no need for a bowler in the game any more.
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