Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bringing light

I want to address a couple of things about my post on Why I hate ODI cricket. Firstly, I didn't mention the amount of ODI cricket played as a reason for my hating it. This was quite deliberate. I only wanted to point out the intrinsic qualities of ODI cricket that make it unappealing to me. The fact that boards around the world have gone completely insane in the last 10 years with their scheduling only makes it worse, but is not the fault of ODI cricket itself. It is the fault of the administrators.

Secondly, I've often heard the accusation that bloggers only bring darkness and not light. In other words, they bitch and moan a great deal without ever offering anything constructive. In that spirit, here are my recommendations for making ODI cricket better:

Scrap the bouncer law
You know why this law was introduced, right? Back in the late 80s and early 90s, everyone was sick of the Windies bowlers intimidating the hell out of everyone else. And back then, the ICC was a racist body. So they said, screw it, let's take away one of their most potent weapons. Do you see how incredibly stupid this is? Can you imagine the situation in reverse? What if the ICC suddenly decided one day that batsmen are scoring far too many runs behind point, so they ban the cut. Or they said you could only play one cut an over. Wouldn't that be ridiculous?

All batsmen should know how to play the short ball. If they can't, they shouldn't be international cricketers. Scrapping the one-bouncer-per-over law will make sure we never see the likes of Michael Bevan again, who averaged 50 in ODIs and 20 in tests.

Let's remember, that anything above a batsman's head is a wide anyway. So there's no danger of one of those situations where 2 are required off the last ball, and the bowler Shoaibs (to Shoaib: verb. To bowl a bouncer so short that it flies over the keeper's head and goes to the boundary on one bounce) it. If a bowler does Shoaib it, he'll be called for a wide. But if he bowls it right, and it's underneath the batsman's head, then he better know how play it.

Scrap fielding restrictions
For God's sake, let's make captains captain the team out there. With fielding restrictions, by and large, everything is already decided for them. As I complained earlier, this makes the game much more formulaic than it has to be. A captain should be allowed to put as many fielders wherever the hell he wants. If he's dumb enough to put 9 guys on the boundary, then he's going to be susceptible to 6 2's taken in the over, which adds to 12, which is a bloody good over. No forced catches, no 30-yard circles, no nothing. Let the captain decide what he wants to do, and the best way to go about restricting/bowling out the opposition.

No restrictions on overs
The fifth bowler, for most teams, is a combination of dibbly-dobbly types who make the game boring to watch. I think a McGrath or an Asif should be rewarded for being able to bowl at a high level for long spells. If they want to bowl 15 out of the 50, let 'em. This too will give the captain more to think about. It will also ensure more interesting selection issues. Does a team go for the Australian style test-team, with 4 bowlers sharing 50? Do they play a batting all-rounder? A bowler who can bat? A keeper who opens allowing them 5 bowlers? Best of all, it will make the game tougher for batsmen, who too often play the good bowler out and take their frustrations out on the useless bowlers. They wouldn't be able to do that if they knew a guy like Murali is going to bowl 30 out of 50. They'd have to go at him, which would make the game more even. Again, think how ludicrous it would be if the ICC said that batsmen are only allowed to play 75 balls, then have to retire. Why should it be any different for bowlers?

Dear God, when did 325 become a normal score? You remember the days when 250 was considered really good, and 280 extremely challenging? What the hell happened? Why are Afridi/Dhoni types allowed to plant their front foot down, swing through the line and have it go for four? Why are bowlers glorified bowling machines? So many analysts, from Harsha Bhogle to pretty much all the cricinfo guys, complain about this. Why does nobody listen to them? Pitches should offer an even chance to the bowler and the batsman. And even if they are "good" batting wickets, they should never be so completely flat that a bowler is only hoping to not go for 6 an over. No pitch should be that good.

This brings me to another point. Time and again we hear commentators say, when a boundary is hit, "Oh, what a shot! This is what the fans want to see!" Uh, no. The fans want to see an even contest. The ICC I think underestimates the average fan's acumen. We're not a bunch of idiots with ADD who'll hate the game if a boundary isn't hit for 2 overs. Let a batsman work for his runs.

The common thread through my suggestions, I think, is trying to make ODI cricket an even contest again. It wasn't always like this. Before 1995/96, things were relatively normal. Then the India-Pakistan-Sri Lanka World Cup happened, everyone fell in love with Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana, and decided this is how ODI cricket should be played. They didn't realize that the Sri Lankans were so entertaining because (a) they were a novelty act and (b) they were bloody good at it. They could do it most pitches, and under most conditions. For a period of about 2-3 years, that SL team was the best ODI team in the world.

The bottom line is that all the different regulations in ODI cricket are designed to hinder bowlers. There's no rule ever introduced which gets in the way of a batsman doing his job. Imagine in football, if all the defenders were told you can't tackle a guy with your right foot. Or telling tennis players they could only hit winners off their forehand. If none of those make sense, then why does the ICC insist on doing it to bowlers? A travesty, I tell you, a travesty.


nikhil said...

i agree with your sentiment - but some (umm, well actually most - if not all) of your analogies regarding the bouncer are really stupid, and kind of incomparable. not allowing the bowler to bowl a bouncer is not the same as not letting a batsman cut. your football and tennis analogies are also incorrect. those actions are largely reactionary, i.e. they depend on something that comes before - a cut when the ball is wide(ish) outside the off, etc. Bowling a bouncer is not.

Again, not disagreeing with any of the points you made - just pointing out the idiocy of your analogies. This post is harsher than i initially intended it to be, but i think you can take it - given your propensity to dole it out.

Also - as far as the bombay blasts post goes - i understand that you weren't being flippant about the blasts themselves, and more about the investigation the cops were conducting - but everything related to that event for me is really serious...and i didn't mind it as such but still... i'll just say this: i think people affected by any terrorist event are obviously more likely to treat it with a much greater degree of sensitivity than someone who was not directly affected...maybe even to the point of overreaction - if there is such a thing where terrorism is concerned...

Anonymous said...

other than afghanistan. and iraq. and bush's general political platform during the elections.

Ahsan said...

i dont think my analogies are stupid. a bouncer is part of a bowlers repertoire, as is a forehand for a tennis player, as is a cut shot for a batsman. the fact that a cut shot is reactionary is obvious - EVERY shot a batsman plays is a reaction to the ball bowled. and as far as tennis goes, fine, ill amend it to: it would be like a tennis player not being allowed to serve down the middle. (not reactionary, taking away something from the repertoire). happy?

your point about the terrorism thing is well taken. i will try to be more sensitive in the future.

Faraz said...

I think that the bouncer - cut shot analogy isn't even that far off the mark. Granted a batman's shots are reactionary but if you for example stop him from playing that cut shot and tell him to flat bat it straight down the ground or step inside the line and play it on the leg side then it is taking something (a bouncer?) out of his repetoire and forcing him to try other things..

and letting bowlers bowl as much as they want is probably excessive but I would like to see more sporting pitches such as the ones in england and not bullshit ones like india and pakistan..its just a question of what you enjoy more.. the opening spells by asif and shoaib in england or yet another retarded 350 plus score with the bowlers running for cover

Faraz said...

oh and i disagree that crowds want to see 'pure' cricket'.. they want to see afridi and dhoni raining sixes.. unfortunately the rest of the world doesn't orgasm when asif goes past the bat four times an over!

-- faraz

Anonymous said...

actually it's still very far off the mark. i understand it from a "repertoire" perspective but it doesnt make sense for the reasons i stated above. the tennis serve one is fine.

this is a stupid argument - please stop trying to justify it. and sucking up to ahsan.

Ahsan said...

well i guess if nikhil says its a stupid argument, then it must be so. and of course, if god forbid, someone agrees with me, then it must be because they're sucking up. me being right couldn't possibly have anything to do with it, right? choot.

Ahsan said...

by the way, you should know better than to argue with the king of analogies. i made another great one the other day: being a political scientist is like being in an indie rock band. you're only considered acceptable if you cater to the people who share your profession. the minute you try and appeal to a wider audience, you've 'sold out'. you should know analogies like that absolutely floor everyone in poli sci classes. which actually might say a lot about people in poli sci classes.