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5 changes to ODI cricket rules over the years

Perth Stadium Tour : News Photo
The 50-over game has seen quite a few changes
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Anshul Gandhi

The ICC in the past has been criticised by fans and players alike for changing the rules of the One Day format too often. While true, the ICC has come up with tweaks and modifications for the 50-over format time and again, one cannot find fault with the ICC’s intentions over the same.

Since the tests are for purists and T20s attract crowds and new fans from all over the world, it’s the ODIs that have witnessed a dip in popularity over the last few years. It is a matter of survival for a format that’s the basis for the most recognised global event in cricket – the cricket World Cup. The ICC, therefore, has come up with tweaks time and again in order to breathe new life into the ODIs and keep it relevant.

While it is only recently that the rule changes have become frequent, the first major pivot in how the ODIs are played can be traced back to the 1983 World Cup. Here are five ODI rule changes over the years that have shaped the One Day International format as we know it today.

#1 60 overs to 50 overs

Even though the first ODI was played in 1971, it was only until later in 1983 that the 60-over format was shunned. The 60 overs format history, however, can be traced back to the 1970-71 season when the first four days of the MCG test between Australia and England were washed out and the organisers, therefore, decided to play a one day game with 40 eight-ball overs a side.

This was the beginning of the one day era and over the years, a lot of different countries tried their hand at a lot of different one day formats.

The follow up series, for example, between Australia and England was played with 55 six-ball overs. New Zealand too tried its hand at a 35-over a side ODI format for some time after that.

The first 50-over six-ball game was played by West Indies who hosted Pakistan in 1977 and then Australia in 1978. The 1983 World Cup saw the last 60-over a side game being played. Thereafter, 50-over games were a standard routine but England continued to play the 55 over format until 1995.

#2 Powerplay

Sri Lanka v Afghanistan - 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup : News Photo
ICC have tweaked the powerplays often in the last decade

The term powerplay was first used by the ICC in 2005 to implement three sets of fielding restrictions during the game. For the first 10 overs only two fielders were allowed outside the 30-yard circle and then five overs of two powerplays each were taken by the fielding side during the game with a maximum of three fielders outside the infield during the five-over powerplays.

In 2008, the batting team was given the right to decide the timing of one of the other two power plays. In 2011 again, ICC brought in new changes wherein the powerplays were now needed to be done away with between the 16th and the 41st over. During the non-powerplay overs, teams were allowed a maximum of five fielders outside the 30-yard circle.

The next wave of powerplay rule changes came in 2012 when the ICC decided to give more leverage to the batsmen by reducing the number of players outside the 30-yard circle in non-powerplay overs to four and two powerplays instead of three with the introduction of batting powerplay.

In 2015 though, this rule was further amended to do away with the batting powerplay and allowed five fielders outside the 30-yard circle in the last ten overs of an ODI innings.And so, the current ODI format has three powerplay passages during the game.

Powerplay one (P1) from overs 1 to 10 with a maximum of two fielders outside the 30 yard circle, powerplay two (P2) from overs 11 to 40 with a maximum of four fielders outside the 30-yard circle and powerplay three (P3) from 41 to 50 with a maximum of five fielders outside the 30 yard circle.

#3 Two new balls from both ends

England v Australia - 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup : News Photo
Has the new ball change actually hurt the bowlers more?

The introduction of two new balls in ODIs has drastically changed the game since its introduction in 2011. It was meant to provide the bowlers with something more and bring the much needed balance in the game but instead it helped the batsmen clobber the same bowlers all over.

Before 2011, the wear and tear on the ball after 40 odd overs helped the bowlers exploit the conditions to extract some reverse swing and restrict the batsmen. After the two-ball rule though, the tables turned in favour of the batsmen.

Apart from Pakistan, no other team has been able to reverse 20-over old balls in the ODIs and that is one of the reasons why the ICC is considering to change the rule to two balls in the first 30 overs and then giving the fielding team the right to choose one of the two old balls in the next 20 overs.

#4 Two bouncers rule

India v Sri Lanka - ICC Champions Trophy : News Photo
The bouncer rule has seen quite a few changes in the past

The use of bouncers in cricket has been controversial, to say the least. Some critics say that the use of bouncers in cricket should come under intimidation tactics and therefore be done away with. This however, is not the case as per the two bouncers rule. In the 70s and 80s, teams like West Indies and Australia used bouncers to dominate the sport with their all pace-battery teams.

The rules for bouncers were first formed in 1991 which allowed for one bouncer per batsman per over. This rule was amended in 1994 to two bouncers per over with a two-run penalty if the bowler exceeded the limit. In 2001, the ICC again reverted to the original one bouncer rule with a one-run penalty in case the limit was breached. In the wave of 2012, wherein sweeping changes were made to the game, two bouncers were once again allowed without any run penalty.

#5 Infield restrictions

New Zealand v Bangladesh - ICC Champions Trophy : News Photo
Prior to 2015, two fielders were supposed to be in catching position

Infield restrictions have been limited but useful to avoid any unfair advantage to the fielding team. Earlier, two fielders in catching position were mandatory during the powerplay, however, that rule was done away with in 2015.

Today, the rules prevent the fielder to stand on the pitch and if a fielder’s shadow is cast over the pitch then he is required to not move until after the batsman has played the ball. Apart from these rules, there must not be more than two fielders in the quadrant of the field behind square leg (apart from the wicketkeeper) to avoid body line tactics being by the fielding team.

Edited by Staff Editor
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