|New rules and flat tracks have made the game batsman-friendly.
We just witnessed a high scoring bilateral one-day cricket series between India and Australia. Though we had 7 matches, we could get only 5, and India won it 3-2 coming from behind. The batsmen on either side went berserk at the bowlers, showing total disrespect. Now that the series has ended, we are made to understand that the ODI format has changed quite a lot in the last few years. A once formidable target of 250 looks mediocre, and big targets, even in excess of 350 give last over finishes.
If all matches are to be played like what we witnessed in the just concluded series, one will be forced to think that bowlers don’t play any serious part in the game. If even the specialist bowlers are going beyond 8 runs per over, captains may think of strengthening the batting further by introducing more batsmen who are makeshift bowlers.
ICC first made the game batsman-friendly when they reduced the number of fielders beyond the inner circle from five to four in non-power play overs. With just four people patrolling the boundary, even legendary bowlers will be made to rethink about their landing areas. At least in the sub-continent, we get to see a lot more pitches that are as flat as chess boards. This only helps to demoralize bowlers and potentially end some careers prematurely. Imagine the mindset of a promising bowler like Xavier Doherty bowling on flat decks in seven matches on the trot.
People with business acumen may suggest that big hits bring in more gate collection, game interest, and ad revenue for the hosts and broadcasters. But true cricket fans want to watch good contest between bat and ball. The change of rules might look more lucrative, but high time the ICC resorted to the old field settings and the host cricket boards and associations asked curators to prepare sporting wickets.