Cricket is about to get a major shake up with the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) announcing a set of new rules to be implemented from coming October. Meanwhile, CricketSoccer tries to find out the pros and cons of the new rules…
Balance between bat and ball
The life of a bowler has become tougher and tougher over the last few years, to be more specific, after the advent of T20 cricket which is nothing but a batsman’s game. If you are a pacer and bowl with a 20-25 yards run up, you might even end up a delivery only to see a well directed bouncer flying over the third man boundary. It’s not that the batsman had successfully read your grip or line and length, but because he had mistimed the shot and the ball disappeared in the gallery. It is a very common sight in cricket now a days, the reason being the heavy bat used by the batsmen, with a larger blade which can send any ball into the gallery, even if it is a mistimed shot from the batsman.
But the MCC has now decided to restrain the weight and width of a bat to bring back the balance between bat and ball. The new maximum permitted dimensions of a cricket bat will be 108mm in width, 67mm in depth with 40mm edges. Many of the top players like David Warner, Chris Gayle use bats having edges of almost 50mm. These types of bats are now banned. It is a much needed step which can curb the one sided dominance of the batsmen over the bowlers. Now the bowlers might find themselves in a bit relieved position.
Run-out changes favour the batsmen
While the change in bat sizes is in favour of the bowler, the run-out changes favour the batsmen. The change here is that a batsman will not be given out if his/her bat has been grounded, crossed the line and then bounces in the air while the stumps are broken. The MCC statement said: “If the bat (held by the hand) or another part of the batsman’s person is grounded beyond the popping crease and this contact with the ground is subsequently lost when the wicket is put down, the batsman will be protected from being run-out if he/she is running or diving and has continued forward momentum towards the stumps and beyond.” While the number of such cases are very rare, but one can not deny the amount of controversies it indulges in. The new rule, however, would certainly stop those controversies.
Less types of dismissals
The number of dismissals possible in a game of cricket has now been reduced from 10 to nine as ‘Handled the ball’ is being clubbed with ‘Obstructed the field’. It would certainly wipe out all the confusion when a batsman gets out for ‘handling the ball’, making the job of the on-field umpires a bit easier.
Caution for the non strikers
It has almost become a habit for the non strikers, especially in the slog overs, to leave the crease before the bowler releases the ball. It is a practice on behalf of the batsman not only to be in a better position if there is a chance of a single, but also to create pressure on the fielding side.
Currently, the ICC rules read “The bowler is permitted, before releasing the ball and provided he has not completed his usual delivery swing, to attempt to run-out the non-striker,” while the MCC laws state that the run-out attempt has to come before the bowler has entered their delivery stride. Now, the MCC has amended this to say that a bowler can attempt a run-out at any given point until the ball has been released. It will serve as a warning to the non-strikers not to leave the crease every time before the delivery.
The unwanted threat to on-field excitement
The biggest worry of the new laws of the MCC being the restrictions on the players’ behavior which is bound to create a lot of controversies. If the new on-field behavior rules were in place for the second India vs Australia Test at Bengaluru, both teams would have been penalized thanks to Virat Kohli and Steve Smith respectively. The new laws have been brought in to weed out poor on-field behavior. There are now four levels of offences which umpires can judge. Basically, umpires are being given more powers to punish any player for their poor behavior.
* A level one breach is a direct warning. It includes actions like excessive appealing and showing dissent at umpire’s decision. First-time offence is a warning. A second level one offence comes with an immediate five-run penalty.
* A level two offence includes throwing the ball at a player or deliberate physical contact. This comes with an immediate five-run penalty.
* A level three offence that includes intimidating an umpire or threatening assault on anyone from player to spectator carries the five-run penalty and removal of a player from the field of play for a stipulated number of overs.
* A level four offence (the highest level) includes a threat to an umpire of any act of violence on the field of player is grounds for immediate dismissal from the field of play for the remainder of the game. If said person is batting at the time, he/she will be given ‘retired out’.
The thought behind this law is quite understandable. But had the members of the MCC thought about the consequences? Suppose Virat Kohli is involved in a spat with David Warner or a Dale Steyn and removed from the field for 5 overs, can anyone imagine what will be the reaction of the gallery? Undoubtedly, there will be excitement which the organizers may find difficult to control. If it happens in India, even the possibility of a riot in the stadium cannot be ruled out.
Moreover, the crowd love to see on-field excitement. Most of the test matches now a days are played in front of empty galleries. The heated rivalry among the players still enlightens the few 8-10 thousand spectators and anybody can hear the roar of the crowd when Virat says something to Warner or Steve Smih is teased by Ishant Sharma. If these are stopped by strict rules, there is every possibility that cricket, especially the Test matches lose attraction among the mass.
The cricket romanticism is endangered. Some may find the on-field excitement unpleasant, but after all, who can deny that the spat between Kiran More and Javed Miandad or that of Viv Richards and Greg Thomas have gifted the cricket lovers with some immortal memories? The lawmakers have to decide whether they will proceed with rigidity or show some relaxation to keep the game lively.