Sunday, July 10, 2005

Cricket's New Rules Claim their First Victim

A month ago, I wrote about the rule changes to one-day cricket that had been dreamed up by the comedians at the International Cricket Council. The changes have since been approved on a trial basis for the period of a year. Today's England-Australia encounter marked the second cricket match played under the new rules and exposed the idiocy of the one-substitute option.

Both sides loaded the eleven with five bowlers in the hope of winning the toss and bowling first. Unfortunately for England, Ricky Ponting called the toss right and Australia got to unleash its bowlers first up. Which meant that England couldn't afford to substitute out a bowler for a batsman. Australia, of course, had no such difficulties when it became their turn to bat, as they replaced strike bowler Glenn McGrath with hitter Brad Haddin, and gained a significant advantage. It is another story entirely that they cantered to a win even without Haddin's services, thanks to the asymmetry of pitch conditions. (It remains something of a mystery why Australia would wait until the third over of their inning to undertake the substitution. Perhaps they were considering McGrath as a pinch hitter in case they lost a wicket early? :-) )

If the ICC desperately wants substitutes in the game, why not at least allow the eleven to be named immediately after the toss, instead of before? Teams could still be required to finalize their twelve prior to the toss.

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