The recently concluded series between India and Australia is the earliest sign of the ODI game as we know it changing forever. The manner in which the bowlers were carted to all corners of the ground in each match of the series is not a good sign for youngsters growing up in the country who dream of becoming bowlers. It is a well known fact that kids growing up in India are more attracted to the bat than the ball will not do much to help in this regard.
This could be mostly put down to the fact that the rules in ODIs have been changed recently and do not maintain a fair balance between bat and ball. This holds true especially in sub-continent conditions with the small grounds, quick out-fields and the dew factor playing a major role. These rule changes include the use of two balls in an innings which does not give the spinners the chance to get into the game and be able to turn the ball. It also takes the effect of reverse swing out of the game as the ball does not get sufficiently old enough reaching a maximum of 25 overs old.
Some would say that these are two of the most charming aspects of the ODI game and that changing the rules to cater to the needs of the batsmen was definitely not the right thing to do with the odds already loaded in favour of the batsmen even before the new rules came into effect. Add to this the only 4 fielders outside the circle rule and the bowlers have nowhere to hide.
While watching this last series, there were times when I had to pinch myself just to make sure that what I was seeing unfold on the television was really happening! In that respect, it is safe to say that this series has changed the game probably forever. For the better or worse: only time will tell. I mean the number of records that were broken in this bilateral series in terms of run rate by teams and numbers of sixes hit are just mind blowing statistics. Not to forget scores of 300+ being chased down with ease.
We are used to seeing this slam bang version of the game during the IPL and other T20 tournaments. It can be said that such tournaments have had a drastic impact on the way the 50 over game has come to be played. But the fact that all the records broken in the series were by batsmen and none by the bowlers shows a shocking disregard for the bowlers by the guardians of the game while implementing changes to the game. The comments made by Indian bowlers that the games might as well be played with bowling machines left a bad taste in the mouth.
Of course there is the other side that the ODI game was getting monotonous during the middle overs and these changes were made by the ICC in an attempt to try and address this issue. But the fact remains that cricket is played so that it is an equal contest between bat and ball and this should be maintained and kept in mind during the process of making any changes to the game. The rules can be modified in such a way that the bowlers have more of a say as the fall of wickets is also an exciting part of the game and should not be under estimated.