New 11x5 scoring system will be “interesting”, feel Srikanth Kidambi, Parupalli Kashyap
Remember the 110-minute P.V. Sindhu vs Nozomi Okuhara epic World Championships final last year that was highlighted by an exhausting 73-shot rally? And the several similar looking finals that preceded and followed the Glasgow event, with different shuttlers having the last laugh.
Over the years, not only has the competition changed, but the game also has become more intriguing, engrossing and breathtaking. And thus, players have often spoken of ‘fitness’ as their main objective.
However, those long edge-of-the-seat encounters might no longer be the charm of the game as the sport’s governing body (BWF) has proposed to change the scoring system to 11-point-five-game from the 21x3 current system. Reduction of on-court coaching and fixed 1.15m height for service were among the other changes proposed by the BWF in order to ensure that the sport remains competitive in the fast-paced, cutting-edge sports-entertainment industry.
These proposals will be discussed and voted on during the BWF’s Annual General Meeting in Bangkok in May. The new service rule will be experimented at the All England Championship next month.
The proposal, that came days after BWF announced the new World Tour calendar for 2018, was made considering longer and exhausting matches in the current 21x3 scoring format where there were also longer breaks between points and more injury cases owing to greater physical and mental stress on players. The 21x3 scoring format has been in place for the last 10 years.
The BWF has been experimenting the 11x5 scoring system since 2014 with several Grand Prix tournaments trying out the setup. At home, the 2016 Premier Badminton League was played with the 11-point to three games format, which was altered to 15x3 this season.
While the new scoring format is expected to change the entire dynamics of the sport once it’s passed, current and former players have already expressed their views on the proposed change.
World No. 3 Kidambi Srikanth felt that the new scoring will have an even impact on players. “It will be an advantage for a few players while others will find it tough to adjust. I still don’t feel that BWF will change the current scoring setup which is going great. And if it does, the most important thing will be adapting to the new format,” said the star shuttler, who picked up four Superseries titles last season.
2014 Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap was hopeful that playing under the new format will be “interesting”. “I haven’t tried the new format so I don’t know whether I will like it or not. But I think it will be a refreshing change if it happens. The training will change accordingly. I also believe that the format will suit the attacking players, but I know for a fact that the players who usually win will always figure out a way to win,” Kashyap told this correspondent.
‘Unfair for the game’
While some felt the new format will add excitement to the game, a few including former doubles specialist Jwala Gutta said that it’s unfair on BWF’s part to keep changes the scoring quite often.
“I strongly feel that the new format won’t work. Earlier also they tried experimenting it in some important events but didn't go for long. The beauty of the game will be spoiled. Badminton is known for speed and endurance apart from power. And it will be unfair to keep tweaking the rulebook. The skills will be affected,” Jwala said during a chat.
In a recent press release, BWF president Poul-Erik Hoyer has stressed the need for change, “bring in new peaks, more excitement and increase broadcast and fan appeal.” No doubt, the shorter and crispy format will be less time consuming; thus will draw more TV viewership, but it will be more about smashing and no rallies — the charm of the game will be gone.
When told that the length of matches was one of the reasons for the change, the former World Championship bronze medallist said, “If people can watch tennis for three hours minimum and can still enjoy, why not badminton? I don’t understand how one of the fastest sports like badminton can have unexciting moments.”
Echoing a similar view, former coach U. Vimal Kumar felt that the new format will not have any room for skills, which is one of the main components in a technical and physical sport like badminton. “Also the format, if it's given a go-ahead, should be introduced in Challenger and Series-level tournaments, not in major events,” he added.