The latest set of changes proposed by Marylebone Cricket Club must have got a lot of people thinking – for what it’s worth, I am thrilled with a couple of the changes and deeply unhappy with at least one.
Making Mankading easier to execute: Aye
Yellow and red cards for players: Aye
Scrapping bouncing bat run outs: Aye
Bringing handling the ball within the ambit of obstructing the field: I’m sad that that most rare and amusing of dismissals won’t exist on its own anymore, but it doesn’t matter greatly what it’s called, does it?
Limiting bat sizes: Nay
Here’s a little look at a couple of the major, thought-provoking changes and whether they make sense or not.
“Redress the balance between bat and ball in the game,” says the MCC statement that goes on to specify that come October 2017, bats cannot be more than 108mm wide and 67mm in depth, with 40mm edges the maximum.
The bat holds sway over ball far too much, especially in the shortened versions of the game, is the logic. Who can argue with that?
But is that entirely to do with the willows that modern players like David Warner use? I agree entirely that some of the bats these days are things you can hand Chris Hemsworth and ask him to save Asgard. But what about pitches where Australia score 359/5 in 50 overs and India reply with 362/1 in 43.3 overs? If India had batted on at that rate, they would have gotten to 416 in 50 overs, and it would have added up to 775 runs in 100 overs that October day in Jaipur. And it would still be 50 runs short of the 825 India and Sri Lanka put up together in 100 overs in Rajkot back in December 2009, and 97 less than the 872 Australia and South Africa scored in 99.5 overs in March 2006 in Johannesburg.
That last one was well before full-scale Twenty20 cricket.
And it is still celebrated (as of yesterday, in fact) as one of the greatest One-Day International matches.
Edges are the biggest problem, apparently – it doesn’t seem right to Ricky Ponting and others of the MCC Cricket Committee that mishits go for sixes. Fair enough. But how often does that happen? Once, maybe twice, in a Twenty20 game?
Rules that prevent bowlers from crossing the line while delivering the ball but allow batsmen to run circles around their stumps and the 30-yard mark if they so want; rules that don’t allow bowlers to change hands while delivering the ball but have no problems with batsmen going reverse, the number of bouncers per over
I humbly submit that the process of evolution – in life, the universe and everything; bat-manufacturing technology for example – should not be tampered with. And, really, it’s kind of hypocritical to try to ‘redress’ the balance between bat and ball when cricket’s own evolution is planned around more runs and bigger hits. If the problem must be solved – and it is a problem, don’t get me wrong – then fixing bat sizes will do a very incomplete job. It’s mere window dressing. Just a matter of picking on the soft target.
I’m so glad bouncing bats and feet in the air within the popping crease won’t be penalised any more – how about sorting out the boundary line problem now?
If a fielder’s body touches the rope or advertising cushions but the ball doesn’t cross the line, why should it be four? And, similarly, if the ball has gone beyond the boundary but has been pulled back by someone by keeping his or her body inside the playing area or by a hop-skip-and-leap, why shouldn’t it be counted as six or four?
We’ll wait for those, but it’s very, very heartening to see a bit of the stigma being taken out of the Mankading law. The change in the MCC law only mirrors the ICC playing conditions now, but one hopes that bowlers start doing it more often going forward.
It is as legitimate a mode of getting a batsman out as any other. It has always been. And it must remain so. Spirit of the game be damned.
“If the non-striker is out of his/her ground from the moment the ball comes into play to the instant when the bowler would normally have been expected to release the ball, the bowler is permitted to attempt to run him/her out. This will keep non-strikers in their ground for slightly longer than the current Law and mirrors ICC’s Playing Regulations,” says the MCC.
I would have preferred ‘can’ instead of ‘is permitted to attempt to’, but that’s how it is. Much of the laws of the game take more than one reading to become clear, couched as they are in quasi-legalese. But providing some degree of legitimacy to the dismissal regarded as so unsportsmanlike is a great move forward.
“It is clearly within the rules for a reason. But we can’t use it. How silly does that sound? Why: Because of an illogical convention?” Ian Bishop had argued on the subject after the Keemo Paul controversy at the 2016 Under-19 World Cup.
He had gone on to say, “We really seem to be living in a world that’s calling wrong right and calling right wrong. All because of a convention that no one knows when and why truly began. We don’t want to see a ‘Mankad’ seal a match they say!!!!! Why; because of a historical stigma, or because it looks sneaky??? The solution then surely is for batsmen to be diligent enough and fair enough and skilful, yes skilful enough to ensure they don’t leave their crease before the ball is released.”
Saner words on that contentious – though it really shouldn’t be one – subject have rarely been written.
Now, one hopes, bowlers will not be shy of doing it, first ball of a Test match or decisive delivery of a limited-overs game. And umpires will not turn to the captain to check for a bubbling through of cricketing spirit. And batsmen – oh, they will just hang their heads and walk off for having been that stupid. No more protection by convention – fingers crossed.
Source: Wisden India