New ODI rules: Nightmare for bowlers
In a bid to revive the drab 50-over game, the ICC announced a set of new ODI rules that came into effect exactly a year ago. While batsmen have benefited the most from it, bowlers have had their strength undermined, something that has been especially visible in the recent India vs Australia ODI series.
With the advent of T20 cricket and its growing popularity, a move like this was the need of the hour. The interest of spectators in ODIs have dipped considerably over the last few years, thanks to the increasing number of T20 tournaments. However, the bigger question remains – Will these alterations change the way the sport is played? What would be their larger consequence on the game?
1. Two new balls – As opposed to the old-ball rule that worked in cohesion with the batsmen and bowlers, ICC's new rule of using two new balls, one from each end has sparked a lot of debate. Fast bowlers may profit from this new regulation, but spinners are likely to be affected the most as they now need to go the defensive way. In addition, the art of “reverse swing” is ignored, for there is no old ball at the bowler's disposal, which leaves him with one option less.
2. 4 fielders outside the circle - Two successful chases of 350 plus targets in a single series tell us a lot, not only about the batting prowess of India or Australia but also of the helplessness of bowlers. With an extra fielder inside the circle and a fielder short outside it, fast bowlers are constantly bowling with the third man and fine leg up. The minute a bowler goes off target, he is smashed for a boundary. With thin bowling resources, captain MS Dhoni is facing one of the biggest challenges of his captaincy, which justifies his discontent about the new rules.
It is easy to ridicule bowlers for leaking runs, but what goes unnoticed is the fact that these rule changes play a major role in sides going past 300 with ease. Such run-scoring can be delightful once in a while but it harms the one-day game to a great extent, especially for the bowlers. 5 years ago, a total of 250-280 would be deemed enough for the chasing side. Today, even 360 has become achievable. It isn't about which team bats the best anymore. Teams are instead focused on finding ways to bowl less badly, because at least that gives them a chance of winning a match.
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