From October 1, 2017, some significant changes will be implemented in the laws of the game, following the recommendations of the ICC Cricket Committee and the subsequent approval of MCC. From restricting the thickness and depth of modern day cricket bats to introducing the Decision Review System (DRS) in T20 format and providing the on-field umpires the authority to send players off for serious misconduct in the cricket field — under these new playing conditions, cricket will never be the same again.
So, as the cricket world getting ready to embrace these changes, this is the perfect time to have a look at these upcoming changes in details.
Changes in DRS and its introduction in T20 Internationals
Following notable success and acceptance in Test and One-Day International (ODI) levels, from October 1, DRS will be used in all T20 Internationals. Like ODIs, each team will get one opportunity in each innings to seek a review of any decision made by the on-field umpires.
Besides this, another major change in the DRS system will permit teams to retain their review when an LBW decision under DRS comes back as ‘Umpire’s Call’. However, the 80 over top-up of reviews in Test cricket will be abolished, which means a team will get only two reviews in each innings in the five-day format.
Send off players with serious misbehaviour
Like the referees in football, the umpires on the cricket field will now have the power to send off players in case of major behavioural problems.
Here are the different levels of misconduct which will be referred under this new law.
Level 1: Offences include excessive appealing and showing dissent at an umpire’s decision. Following an official warning, a second Level 1 offence will result in five penalty runs being awarded to the opposing team.
Level 2: Offences (including throwing the ball at a player or making deliberate physical contact with an opponent during play), will result in the immediate awarding of five penalty runs to the opposing team.
Level 3: Offences (including intimidating an umpire or threatening to assault another player, team official or spectator) will result in five penalty runs and a removal of the offending player from the field for a set number of overs, depending on the format of the match.
Level 4: Offences (threatening an umpire or committing any act of violence on the field of play), will result in five penalty runs and the removal of the offending player for the remainder of the match. If the player is batting at the time of the offence, he/she will be recorded as ‘retired out’.
“We felt the time had come to introduce sanctions for poor player behaviour and research told us that a growing number of umpires at grass roots level were leaving the game because of it.
“Hopefully these sanctions will give them more confidence to handle disciplinary issues efficiently, whilst providing a deterrent to the players,” talking about this new concept of punishment in cricket, John Stephenson, the MCC’s head of cricket, said.
Restrictions in bat size
In order to restore the balance between bat and ball, the ICC is now going to add a restriction in the thickness and depths of bats. The improvements in cricket bats over the years have turned it so thick and powerful that nicks fly over the boundary for the maximum these days. Because of those thick edges, the concept of ‘sweet spot’ in a bat is almost gone.
However, under the new rules, the maximum width of a bat can be 108 millimeters (mm), depth 67 mm, and its edges cannot be more than 40 mm.
“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,” MCC mentioned in a statement.
Following the implementations of these rules, someone like Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, David Warner or MS Dhoni cannot use the bats which they are currently accustomed with.
The new run-out rules
Under these new rules, once a batsman has crossed the crease safely, he will get immunity from being declared run-out, irrespective of whether his bat is grounded or in the air when the ball hits the stump. The same shield will apply to a striker diving back into his ground to avoid being stumped.
Tying the bails with stumps
To prevent injuries like the one Mark Boucher, the former South African wicket-keeper had (A flying bail hit his eye while keeping. The injury ended his career), the new rules allow a specially designed mechanism to tie the bails to the stumps to restrict the distance they can fly after the ball hits the stumps.
Additionally, now with the consent of on-field umpires, a substitute can perform the wicket-keeping duties.
A sigh of relief for the wicket-keepers!
Adjusting to these new playing conditions will take time for the entire cricket community. However, we can safely say that with these changes, we are entering a new era of cricket — an era, which will be dominated by the technology.