As the Indian bowlers’ performances have continued to deteriorate so far in this series, the constant refrain from Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his teammates seems to be that the ‘new’ ODI rules are working against them.
The fact of the matter is that to call the rules ‘new’ is an overstatement for they have been in place since October 1, 2012.
Granted that five fielders inside the circle and new balls from either end have further tilted the balance in the batsmen’s favour, but the rules are the same for all teams that play international cricket. So to blame the rules for Indian bowlers’ follies would be unfair.
It’s not as if the bowlers haven’t done well since the changes took effect. India have played three tournaments away from home in this time-the Champions Trophy in England, the tri-series in the West Indies also featuring Sri Lanka and the five-match series against Zimbabwe and Dhoni’s boys have won an astonishing 13 of the 15 matches overseas.
In their own backyard, though, the Indians have lost six of 11 games. The chief reason for that, of course, is the fact that the pitches in India are so flat that it isn’t really fair to expect a bowler to contain runs every time.
Whenever the pitches or conditions have provided some assistance, such as in the third ODI against Pakistan in the Capital in January, which saw temperatures hover around the 2-3 degrees Celsius mark, the Indian bowlers have put up some excellent displays and won matches.
India’s wings have been further clipped by the fact that under current rules, a ball never gets old enough for reverse swing or spin to become a big factor.
Ahead of the fourth ODI against Australia in Ranchi, Suresh Raina explained: “We are not getting the ball to reverse, while the spinners are also not getting turn as the ball does not get old. We have to admit that it’s tough for the bowlers. When five players are inside (the circle), it’s obviously going to be difficult for the parttimers as your regular bowlers are not doing well. Bowlers come under pressure as to what line and length they would have to try. You’re allowed to bowl two bouncers, but then you have to bowl four more balls after that.”
The much talked about 48th over that Ishant Sharma bowled in Mohali would’ve probably gone for 30 runs even if five fielders had been allowed outside the circle, since he kept bowling either length deliveries or short ones at medium pace, and James Faulkner cleared the boundary with ease.
The Aussies have taken the rules and found a way around them. Their record is a far more even 7-2 at home and 5-4 abroad in the same period, and Phillip Hughes believes it’s still a great challenge for batsmen.
“It has been fantastic. If you look around at the different countries, it works in different ways. You come here and the wickets are quite good for batting, but if you go to England or Australia you could have a pitch that offers more for the bowlers. You’ll see games that are 30/ 3 up front. I think it’s a great thing about touring around the world,” Hughes said.
India seem to be the only ones complaining about the rules, and now that the ICC has decided to persist with them anyway, it would probably help Indian cricket more if a solution to the problem was found and implemented, something Raina admitted.
“ We have no excuse. We have to do well under the circumstances. No complaints, as we have to play under the ICC playing conditions. Players will have to do their job,” he said.
Reproduced from Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.
The name is Faulkner.James Faulkner.
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