From September 28, 2017, there are quite a lot of changes in ICC playing conditions for International matches. Some widely expected changes along with a few minor tweaks in other laws will take effect from 28th. These come on the back of recommendations made at the ICC annual meeting.
The main goal of ICC is to strike the perfect balance between bat and ball in a game that is heavily skewed in favour of batsmen. ICC’s General Manager of Cricket, Geoff Allardice, had said “Most of the changes to the ICC playing conditions are being made as a result of changes to the Laws of Cricket that have been announced by the MCC. We have just completed a workshop with the umpires to ensure they understand all of the changes and we are now ready to introduce the new playing conditions to international matches.”
Here is an explanation of the rule changes coming into effect at the end of the month.
- The thickness of the edge of the cricket bat cannot exceed 40mm and the thickness of the bat in itself must not be greater than 67mm at any point on the surface. The officials will now have a device to check the size of bats. There is, however, no change to the width and length of bats.
Implications – The monster-sized cricket bats if David Warner and Chris Gayle will no longer be allowed under ICC playing conditions. The rule was enforced as an aid to the bowlers who were unlucky to find edges sailing away over the keeper’s head for six.
- There is little tolerance for on-field player behaviour now. They can be sent off the field, akin to a red card in football, for the entire duration of the match if found guilty of serious misconduct (a Level 4 offence). Level 1 to 3 offences will be dealt with as per the ICC Code of Conduct. Level 4 offences also involve altercations with the umpire or opposition player including threatening, assault and deliberate contact.
Implications – On-field behaviour will be shrewdly monitored now and sledging will, in all likelihood, take a backseat. Fiery, passionate cricketers will have to tread carefully in order stay on in the field of play.
- If a DRS is invoked and “umpire’s call” comes up, teams will not lose a review. However, the rule of adding two reviews at the end of 80 overs of a Test innings is no longer applicable. Teams now have only two reviews (if successful, the review stands) for the entire duration of an innings. The DRS will now be used in T20I too with teams given one unsuccessful review per innings.
Implications – Teams will now be confident enough to review more decisions knowing that umpire’s call will not affect their review count. We are likely to witness a massive increase in number of decisions sent upstairs.
- If a batsman has his bat grounded behind the popping crease but then loses contact with the ground when the fielder takes off the bails, he will be considered not out. This rule also applies for stumpings.
Implications – Batsmen now need to just ground their bat past the popping crease to not be run-out. It doesn’t matter if they lose balance or the bat itself after that point.
- For catches at the edge of the boundary line, the fielders need to make first contact with the ball within the boundary ropes. If he has taken off from outside the ropes, a boundary will be calculated. A boundary will also be given if a fielder in contact with the ball makes contact with any object grounded beyond the boundary, including another fielder.
Implications – With a lot of tag team catches in World cricket at the boundary rope, the ICC needed to ensure that fairness was maintained by the fielders involved in such catches. Jumping across the boundary rope and then pushing the ball out airborne is no longer allowed.
- A batsman can be caught, run-out, or stumped even when the ball has rebounded off a helmet worn by fielder/wicket-keeper.
Implications – Close infielders wearing helmets can now appeal for catches if the ball sticks between their helmet grilles. Earlier, such catches were not allowed. The helmet is now considered a part of the body of the fielder/wicket-keeper.
- The umpires can recall a dismissed batsman any time before the next ball is delivered. Previously, a batsman could not be recalled once he had left the boundary line.
Implications – Umpires now have a chance to redeem themselves if they make a wrong decision and realise it before the next ball is bowled. Batsmen can now be recalled even if they have crossed the boundary line.
- The ICC has accepted use of bails fastened to the stumps in order prevent injuries caused by bails flying at wicketkeepers or fielders after the stumps have been broken. However, this should not affect the dislodging of bails.
Implications – Injuries like the ones to Saba Karim and Mark Boucher will now be reduced of host countries do implement such a system.
- Any byes or leg byes scored off a no-ball will now be tagged separately and not to the bowler. The no-ball penalty alone goes to the bowler while extras will be scored as byes and leg byes. Previously, byes and leg byes scored off no-balls were scored as no-balls.
Implications – An unfortunate bye resulting from a no-ball used to be calculated under the bowler’s figures but this no longer applies as byes and leg-byes off no-balls are now categorised separately in extras.