A few changes to playing rules

Earlier this year, David Morgan, President of the ICC, and others sought the removal of Sunil Gavaskar from the ICC Cricket Committee over his perceived conflict of interest (being a broadcaster and administrator) and his outspoken comments against Australian and English dinosaurs. Indeed, several reports, including this one by Christopher Martin-Jenkins, even said that Gavaskar had been sacked from his post! Peter Lalor weighed in to the argument too in this column on Fox Sports with a headline that reads “Sunil’s twin roles a ‘concern'”. Sunil? Duh?

Anyway, I digressed even before I began! Sunil Gavaskar chaired the ICC Cricket Committee which has come up with a list of innovations. Gavaskar’s committee — or should I follow the perfect journalistic example set by Peter Lalor and say Sunil’s committee, as though the object of discussion was my brother or my best friend? — included Mark Taylor (former Australia captain), Mickey Arthur (South Africa coach), Michael Holding (former West Indies fast bowler), Simon Taufel (ace Australian umpire), Steve Tikolo (Kenya captain) and Tim May (CEO of FICA, the players’ association).

Below are some of the major recommendations made by this committee to the ICC.

Decision Referral:

The major recommendation is that each team be allowed to refer a maximum of three decisions to the third umpire who could use technology such as Hawkeye to review the referred decision. Two things are not clear just as yet from the reports: (a) Is that three decisions each innings, each session, each day, each match? (b) If a team refers a decision and is successful in overturning the on-field umpires’ call, does that still count as a lost referral?

Although this experiment was reported to be unsuccessful when tried in English domestic one-day cricket last season, this referral system could prevent the sort of drama we saw in the Sydney Test (See this YouTube collection if you are an Indian fan and are in desperate need of a gut-wrench moment in your life!) between Australia and India early this year!

The referral experiment was said to be unsuccessful in the English domestic ODI season last year because it turns out that the 3rd umpires were largely loathe to turn on their on-field colleagues! Clearly, with some coaching, guidance, counseling and training, this issue could be overcome. The 3rd umpire has the benefit of technology as well as time and the on-field umpire should not see it as a blemish on his decision making prowess if a decision of his is turned down. Several other sports successfully manage a referral system that is aided by technology.

The ICC Cricket Committee recommended further that Hawkeye could be used only to determine the path of the ball up to the point that it struck the batsman. A wise decision in my view. The questions that could be addressed through this could be, for example, “Did it strike in line?” (for off stump LBWs), “Did the ball pitch outside leg?” (for leg stump LBWs), and “Was the impact too high on the pads?”, rather than, “Would the ball have gone on to hit the stumps?”

In another significant and good move, the committee has also recommended that the on-field umpire should eb allowed to consult the 3rd umpire on whether or not a catch was taken cleanly. That should put an end to the sort of stupid pact that Anil Kumble and Ricky Ponting signed prior to the recently concluded Australia-India Test series — a pact that was torn up after the contentious Sydney Test!

Substitute Fielders:

Apart from this major recommendation which, in all likelihood will be accepted by the ICC, the Cricket Committee also ruled out “comfort breaks” that fielders use to reign in substitutes. The Cricket Committee has indicated that substitute fielders should only be permitted in cases of injury, illness or other wholly acceptable reasons. I am not clear what “wholly acceptable reasons” means in this context. However, if a player does require a genuine “comfort break” does this then mean that the fielding team will field only 10 players for the duration of this “comfort break”? This is not entirely clear from the report. This is, however, in my view, a good suggestion that needs to be adopted. This may also put an end to the sorts of incidents we saw in the 2005 Ashes series when Ricky Ponting and Duncan Fletcher had a war of words over Englands’ use of specialist fielders as substitutes.

PowerPlays in ODIs:

Another significant recommendation is that in ODIs the timing of one of the three Power Plays would be determined by the batting side! As a result of this recommendation, there is no “Second PowerPlay” anymore. In both the 2nd as well as the 3rd PowerPlay, the fielding team can employ 3 fielders outside the restriction circle.

Again, the devil is in the detail on this one. Who decides first whether a PowerPlay is on or not? The fielding captain? What if the fielding captain as well as the batsmen simultaneously decide that they want a PowerPlay to be employed? Is that designated as a batting PowerPlay or a fielding PowerPlay?

Bowl-outs in T20 games ditched:

Thankfully, the dreaded bowl-out that decided tied Twenty20 games up until now has been replaced by a one-over-per-team play-off! Sensible, in my view.

Test League:

The committee also recommended a Test League for the top two sides in the Test Championship. I think that this is a good idea. However, I’d like the Test League to be between the top three sides in the table. Thankfully, the Super Series idea — a dud in the first place — has been killed!

— Mohan

10 responses to “A few changes to playing rules

  1. All the above ideas I also think would be good for the game.
    The referals should be allowed per innings, and unlike tennis I think that once you use one, you’ve lost it regards of its success.

    The batting PP in ODIs would be a good move, though I doubt it is a way to get rid of area between overs 15/20 – 40 where the game just seems to coast along.

    I think the bowl out is hilarious – there players are meant to be professionals, yet they can’t hit the wicket without a batsman in the way.

    A Test League would be nice for the true cricket fans to see. It probably won’t get off the ground because TV is now so focused on T20 and crowds won’t probably be keen on watching Test Matches between two touring teams.

  2. I think each team should have three appeals per batting OR bowling innings. If an appeal is successful, the number of remaining appeals should be reinstated to the earlier count prior to when the appeal was made.

  3. sampath kumar


    Re substitutes

    existing rules are enough–provided umpires are allowed to impose it

    Captains, coaches, managers, respective national bodies have successfully castrated the umpires in such a way that umpires do not and will not impose that 10 fielders field on occasions players go off to have a leak, shower, change shirts, REST etc

    Fast bowlers, in the last session of a test can go off for more than 15 minutes and yet front up the next morning and bowl straight away

    Simple rule will be like soccer, AFL footy etc

    Have as many interchange players for the fielding team and have no restrictions

    For the batting side–same rule–have interchange batters to come on if some one is too slow, can’t play Warnie or McGrath or Murali or has a hangover or has the proverbial ‘RUNS”

    There will be more TAMASHA than what we see in IPL matches!!!!!

  4. Hmmm I think a limited interchange rule in terms of the fielding side should be employed to stop players having a bludge.
    For the batsmen though, things are already easy enough for them. If you are too slow, can’t bat, whatever, your team should have the deal with that. If you’re tough you go out and face the music, otherwise just stay in the shed & leave your team with 10 batsmen.

  5. The IPL recently threw up an interesting anamoly. Robin Jackman keeps talking about this. Everytime a bowler bowls a bouncer and if it is above the ehad of the batsman then it is called a wide. Now why should a wide ball be counted by the umpire as “one for the over.” Should not the bowler be given a chance to deliver a legitimate bouncer every over?

  6. It is quite likely an umpire made a mistake or RJ mistook one over the shoulder as one over the head

    Laws of cricket is very clear —above head bouncer is a no ball- after 3 such balls by that bowler in that innings , the bowler should not bowl again in that innings—–but in inernational matches—due to pressure from the teams, the umpires have been instructed to call a wide!!!! And another ball must be bowled.

    I shall watch the games closely tonight and see if IPL have their own interpretations!!!!! We shouldn’t be surprised as goondas, bootleggers and striptease artists are owning the teams and runnin g the show

  7. Is there any restriction on when the batting team can choose its powerplay, such as before the 35th over? If there is none, all teams will end up choosing the powerplay in the last 5 overs of the innings.

  8. If you are going to mock me, you ignorant goon, at least get it right. If you had any understanding of journalism you would know that reporters do not headlines, especially on websites that appropriate their work. In the story, which I wrote, he is referred to as Gavaskar. Pedantry is one thing. Bog ignorance is completely another.
    Best of luck then.

  9. Peter Lalor

    You continue to amaze me with your vituperative and puerile outbursts on public fora. You do not come across as a balanced person.

    This website gave you the privilege of a balanced hearing a log time back. At the time, I thought that the website editors were mad. I wrote to them at the time. They explained to me that it was important to try and understand both sides. I left my arguments there.

    Most Indians will have been insulted by your crass one-eyed articles last October. To then have you call yourself an Indophile because you have a Ganesha Idol on your mantelpiece was only insulting.

    The subsequent Australia-India series in Australia showed you for who you were — an irresponsible writer who deserved his regular and frequent public mocking. Your article on Harbhajan Singh’s mother was not only in appallingly poor taste, it was the worst piece of journalism I have seen in a long time — and I am a journalist too. You are, to me, a redneck in a nice mans’ garb. Pauline Hanson would welcome you in her midst even without a “Please Explain”!

    So please refrain from calling one of the contributors of this website an “ignorant goon”. He gave you a patient hearing and then you yourself proceeded to demonstrate that you had no ground to stand on.

    As with everything else about you, you throw your hands up in the air and feign innocence like a rabbit caught in the headlights anytime there is something said against you. You deserve to be mocked in every way possible. You should be responsible for the headlines your articles create. If you thought that the headline was inappropriate, you can and ought to fix it. I am enough of a journalist to know that the writer can influence the copy editor. I do. If you do not, you are abrogating your social responsibility — you will be seen as nothing other than a man caught with his pants down… permanently.


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