ICC rule changes: Scope of in-match penalty expanded, reverse swing may become extinct

PTI, Sep 21, 2022, 8:14 AM IST

Representative Image (Source: iStock)

New Delhi: A proud Indian, Sunil Gavaskar would always get furious whenever anyone in his vicinity uttered the word ‘Mankading’, as he felt that it was an insult to one of the country’s first superstar cricketers, Vinoo Mankad.

In the 1948 tour of Australia, Mankad had famously run out home team keeper Bill Brown, who would often leave his crease at the non-striker’s end, to gain a few yards.

Mankad did warn Brown a couple of times before running him out for trying to “unfairly gain ground”. It was a perfectly legal mode of dismissal, but the Australian media termed it ‘Mankading’.

The first world countries — England and Australia — picked up the term and maintained that the practice is against the spirit of the game.

“Why do we call it Mankading and not Browned?” Gavaskar once asked.

Kapil Dev was panned in 1992 for running out Peter Kirsten in an ODI, while Murali Kartik faced the wrath many times during his career for Railways and English county cricket, simply for playing by the rule book.

When Ravichandran Ashwin ran Jos Buttler out during an IPL game, all hell broke loose with Jimmy Anderson, playfully (but not without making a point), putting the Indian off-spinner’s photograph in a shredder. Metaphorically tearing Ashwin to shreds for playing with the spirit of the game.

With the ICC finally terming it ‘run out’ and removing ‘unfair play’ in its rule book, the de-stigmatisation of running players out at non-striker’s has started.

The ICC’s playing condition rule changes will come into effect from October 1.

The PTI looks at each rule and its implication on the teams.

Rule 1: Batters returning when caught: When a batter is out caught, the new batter will come in at the end the striker is, regardless of whether the batters crossed prior to the catch being taken.

Implication: In close games, this rule will be gold dust for the bowling teams. Often when the last couple of wickets are left and at least one established batter at the non-striker’s end, normally during a catch the crossing over would give a distinct advantage to the set batter. But the rule change means that at the fall of ninth wicket due to a catch, No. 11 will have to take strike.

Rule 2: Use of saliva to polish the ball: This prohibition has been in place for over two years in international cricket as a Covid-related temporary measure, and it is considered appropriate for the ban to be made permanent.

Implication: The saliva is heavier than body sweat and over decades, it has helped bowlers use it as one of the methods to keep the shine on one side and make it heavier as the other side scruffs up. That is how reverse swing came into play and if one looks at the Test matches in last two years, conventional swing is taking over reverse in red ball format.

Rule 3: Incoming batter ready to face the ball: An incoming batter will now be required to be ready to take strike within two minutes in Tests and ODIs, while the current threshold of ninety seconds in T20Is remains unchanged.

Implications: This is done to avoid deliberate time-wasting tactics, especially in close Test matches on the fifth day, when a team batting in the fourth innings during final stages tries to delay proceedings.

Rule 4: Striker’s right to play the ball: This is restricted so as to require some part of their bat or person to remain within the pitch. Should they venture beyond that, the umpire will call and signal dead ball. Any ball which would force the batter to leave the pitch will also be called no ball.

Implications: There is no such significance as this is very, very rare at the highest level.

Rule 5: Unfair movement by the fielding side: Any unfair and deliberate movement while the bowler is running in to bowl could now result in the umpire awarding five penalty runs to the batting side, in addition to it being called a dead ball.

Implications: Fielders normally back up and cover some ground, but that would now be deemed unfair if it happens before the delivery is completed. Some quick singles inside the circle, that used to be saved, might not be otherwise.

Rule 6: Running out of the non-striker: The playing conditions follow the laws in moving this method of effecting a run out from the ‘unfair play’ section to the ‘run out’ section.

Implications: The rule has always been in place, but it is the bowler who has got the stick from the cricket community as the Australians and English saw it as going against the spirit of cricket. Bowlers have been judged over the years for what is deemed legal in letter but not in spirit. It will change now.

Rule 7: Bowler throwing towards striker’s end before delivery: Previously, a bowler who saw the batter advancing down the wicket before entering their delivery stride, could throw the ball in an attempt to run out the striker. This practice will now be called a dead ball.

Implications: Nothing much as most bowlers aren’t seen using this ploy. Especially fast bowlers are in motion, and even if they find a batter giving charge while loading up, it’s difficult to pull out of the action as it could cause injuries.

Rule 8: The in-match penalty introduced in T20Is in January 2022 (whereby the failure of a fielding team to bowl their overs by the scheduled cessation time leads to an additional fielder having to be brought inside the fielding circle for the remaining overs of the innings), will also be adopted in ODI matches after the completion of the ICC Men’s World Cup Super League in 2023.

Implications: The teams are now taking nearly four hours at times to complete the 50 overs knowing that only a token financial penalty is in place, and that too, paid by the boards. This rule would mean that one less fielder outside the 30-yard circle in last two or three overs could massively impact the game. Especially for sides defending.

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