The late Bob Woolmer is widely regarded as one of cricket’s most innovative thinkers. A free-thinking coach, who earned a name whilst being in charge of Warwickshire in the early 90s, his reputation grew during his 5 years (1994-99) at the helm of the South African national team. One of the pioneers to take a laptop computer into the dressing room and use it as a tool, his coaching methods encouraged players to think beyond the accepted boundaries of the game.
In 1999, Woolmer, then coaching the South African cricket team, wrote an article in India Today predicting the future of ODIs by the time the year 2010 came by. He himself used an idea that he had suggested would gain prominence in the near future - communicating with a walkie-talkie and an earpiece device in a South Africa-India World Cup game at Hove with skipper Hansie Cronje. Both were reprimanded and fined after India reported the act.
Nonetheless, his vision has turned out to be remarkably prescient with 7 of his predictions coming true. Although he predicted these things to happen by 2010, it is a good measure of his understanding of how far the game can go with the adoption of technology. He had one hell of a crystal ball. Listed are the 10 predictions he made for ODI cricket in the 21st century.
#1 One bouncer per over
In the middle overs, bowlers are allowed one bouncer per batsman per over.
Two bouncers per over are allowed, not one per over per batsman. This is one of the rule changes that has helped the hapless situation of bowlers confronted with modern bats good enough to clear boundaries with a leading edge. Woolmer pressed for an even contest between the batsmen and bowlers and felt that taking away the bouncer emasculates the bowlers who can be manhandled on flat tracks.
#2 Extra runs for longer boundaries
On each ground, the area where the boundary is the longest will be marked out. If the ball goes over that boundary, it is worth 8 runs.
A rare instance where Woolmer went wrong. One thing he probably didn't envision was the grounds getting smaller with boundaries conveniently coming in several meters. In fact, with the shrinking of boundaries, the opposite should be the case with only 3 runs given to any boundary that is shorter than 70 metres. That's not going to happen in the hyper-commercialized, slam-bang version of ODIs, especially since T20 is here to stay.