ICC decided to bring in two new laws to limited-overs cricket that will supposedly make it more interesting. Now that the first experiment was tried out during the recent England vs. Australia Nat-West series, we have some idea over whether the whole thing is going to work.
I like the first rule. Three blocks of fielding-restrictions (now called as Powerplay). That I think should really add some twists to the same-old-story during the sleepy overs from the 15th to the 40th. During the Nat-West series however this wasn’t really tested, since all the matches were low scoring and almost always the team had a very slow start allowing the teams to finish off the powerplay blocks by over 20. It still looked like a normal ODI. But in high-scoring games say when a team has to chase a 300 plus total, this is definitely going to be more exciting.
Rule #2 was substitution. Previously the substitutes could only field and hence were almost of negligible importance (They didn’t even appear in the statistics of the game!). But now this option is now made more powerful, trying to make it at par with substitutions in football. Substitutions can now be made at any time and they can bat, bowl or field just like the other 10 on field. So is it working? Frankly, no! I do support the idea of substitution, but in the current form of implementation, I seriously doubt whether it adds anything more to the “excitement” of the game. It makes the toss even more powerful I guess. Suppose Australia wants to bat first and goes in with one extra batsman, thinking that they can substitute him for a bowler in the second innings. This will work if they win the toss and elect to bat. However if England wins the toss and they decide to bat, the whole plan is spoiled. Australia will have to substitute their player right at the beginning of the innings, absolutely wasting their extra batsman. The reason for this problem is that the playing 11 has to be submitted before the toss. One solution I can see for this problem is that instead of the playing 11, the entire 12 member team is given before the toss and the captain after the toss can decide who the substitute is.
In my humble opinion, substitution must either be improved or scrapped completely and the powerplay rules must be retained. Lets see where all this would bring cricket to. Anyway nice to see that ICC is innovating and are genuinely interested in promoting the game :)