Monday, February 14, 2011

Change of Cricket

The last time the cricket world cup was hosted in the sub continent was in 1996. 15 years have passed by and as big time international cricket makes a comeback to its financial haven here is a look at 20 things that have changed in 50 over cricket ever since.

Field restrictions: Today field restriction is known by its new name of power play. From one block of 15 overs, it has increased to three blocks of a total of 20 overs . The first 10 overs are compulsory wherein like the previous rule two fielders are allowed outside the 30 yard circle and two more fielders have to be in compulsory catching position, 15 yards from the bat. The other two blocks of five overs each are named as fielding power play and batting power play which are at the disposal of the fielding captain and batting side respectively. However unlike the first 10 overs in these blocks the fielding captain can have three fielders outside the 30 yard circle and there is no compulsion to have fielders in catching position

Gone are the whites: Whatever little ODIs were being played in white attire, red ball and in front of white sight screen that also was sucked in by the power of commercialization. Today red ball limited overs cricket is like an extinct species

Constitution of a match: Those days each team had to face a minimum of 25 overs for an ODI match to produce a result. Today a minimum of 20 overs faced by each side makes a match legitimate. Talk about the influence of Twenty20 cricket!

Off shore venues: For anyone who was seen matches in Sharjah, Toronto, Singapore, Morocco and other offshore venues will never forget the celebratory atmosphere. Big time cricket was marked for a certain period in every calendar year and that brought the big stars to the town and it was party time for anyone and everyone in that city. Gone are those days where top cricketers went to such venues and injected the spirit of the game into the veins of many who were not as fortunate as their counterparts in the test playing nations. Some attribute illegal business as a reason for ICC’s decision to stop cricket at off shore venues but it remains to be one of the biggest loss for pyjama cricket.

ICC Champions Trophy: Cricket’s popularity was rising and one world cup was not able to meet the appetite of the ever hungry passionate Asian crowd. ICC too wanted to derive maximum commercial benefit in this uneven balance between demand and supply, hence came ICC Champions Trophy into existence. In many ways it has become the poor man’s world cup, a tournament to aspire for every team who could not lay their hand on the previous world cup.

More runs: Initially if runs were scored off a no ball then the penalty run for the no ball was not added to the scoreboard but today a separate penalty run for no ball is awarded to the batting side apart from the runs scored either off bat or any other part of the body.

Free Hit:
Free hit for a front foot no ball was something even the biggest visionary of the game would not have visualized then but T20 cricket changed it all. Entertainment at the expense of the bowler’s sin became the norm but this rule has helped the bowlers to be more disciplined and today hardly anyone oversteps.

Ball Change: White ball get soiled up easily and as the game became more intense viewing clarity for the batsmen became an issue to be addressed. Today the white ball is compulsorily changed after 35 overs in each innings.

Cheer for bowlers: Now bowlers are allowed to bowl one bouncer per over hence giving them more armor in their arsenal. It has come as a sigh of relief for the bowlers at a time when boundary lines are getting shorter by the season.

Super Subs: They came, they played, and they left. An experiment that was never designed to work.

Switch hit: Who said right handers and not good left handers. Kevin Pietersen changed the notion for good and convinced the law makers that changing stance before the bowler delivers is well within the laws of the game.

Impossible is nothing:
A batsman has gone on to score 32321 international runs, 200* in a single ODI innings, 96 international centuries, another batsman has scored an ODI century in 37 balls and a bowler has gone on to take 1319 international wickets – All these feats were considered impossible in 1996.

Electronic scoreboards: Gone are the days when the curator’s son used to double as the manual scoreboard operator for a bargain of watching the stars play free of cost. Today ICC has made it a mandate for every ground to haves a giant electronic scoreboard which flashes the minutest on ground detail as it occurs. Not only has it reduced the seating capacity but also taken away the charm that only a player can associate with an old rugged scoreboard.

More than third umpire: The role of third umpires has gone beyond calls on stumping, run out and other line decisions.

Support staff:
Someone once told that at international cricketers need not be told what to do, they know their job pretty well. It has been proved wrong as today every team carries a minimum of 5 support staff. Once upon a time the same job was being done by one tour manager-cum-coach. Talk about job specialization.

Technology: Role of technology has increased threefold in modern day cricket. Every team plays the game as much on the computer screen as much on ground. Plus the introduction of tools like snicko meter, hot spot, pitch map and what not has made players machine operated performers.

Television: With so much cricket happening across the globe and the ever increasing demand channel owners have gone on from sports broadcasting to cricket narrowcasting. The advent of Star Cricket, Neo Cricket and Ten Cricket justifies the point.

Paying crowd at a bay: Like every other thing administrators have invested millions in safety and security to ensure that the crowd behavior is also mechanized. No more a passionate fan is allowed to get on to the ground to share his/her emotion with the favourite player who (s) he has come to watch for a price. No more are matches delayed because of crowd interference.

Bet and caught: Fixing a match or a spot as the latest trend was discovered was hidden under the carpet by the very own players who many worshipped as idols but now the rabbit is out of the hat. Strong anti corruption measures taken by ICC to eradicate malignancy makes the game much more sane than ever before.

Commerce drive: Cricket has extensively become a seller’s market especially from the context of the paying Indian public. Everything that was not sponsored those days is now branded. From boundary ropes to player attire to TV screens to every possible element are now priced. Neon flash boards have replaced the good old perimeter boards, commentators have become salesmen, scripts have become predictable and the guest list at the presentation ceremony has increase from handful to houseful. More marketing means more money but with it the game has lost a major share of old charm.

Sidhanta Patnaik

14th February 2011,10.42pm

Marthahalli, Bangalore

No comments: