Changes that ICC should consider in order to bring parity in Cricket
It's been quite a few years since we have been seeing batsmen dominate the proceedings in the shorter formats of the game.
Somewhere, the parity between the bat and the ball has been lost. It has become a batsman dominated game, thus making it quite monotonous in nature. There was a time when 250 used to be considered a very good score and the teams used to back themselves to defend it.
250 of the past is 300 of the present and even that doesn't seem safe as teams chase it down with relative ease these days.
One might argue that today's exuberant youth prefer such cricket where there is entertainment galore, but that is where the importance of cricket might get lost somewhere in the future.
So are there any measures to change it? Yes, there are! Let us go through what change in rules can ICC implement to make cricket balanced for the batsmen and the bowlers and at the same time keep it exciting as well.
Usage of only one ball
ICC introduced the concept of using two new balls in one-day cricket back in 2011. That according to me was a major reason why balance tilted in favour of the batsmen. It eradicated one of the key components in the death overs, i.e. reverse swing.
Bringing back the concept of one ball will mean that it will go soft at some stage thus making it hard for the batsmen to hit it well and giving bowlers something to work with.
Not to forget, that is what made Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram Legends as they were great exponents of the art that seems lost now.
Bringing back the five-over batting powerplay
This was one of the most exciting rules in cricket and was a joy to watch during the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup. This rule allowed the batting team to opt for a powerplay at anytime between overs 16-40.
This powerplay lasted for five overs when only two fielders were allowed outside the 30-yard circle. It brought along a new aspect of the game and it was fascinating to see which teams opted for it and when as each team had a specific plan for it.
They parted with this rule rather quickly and the current rule doesn't make cricket exciting at all. So the ICC should definitely look to bring this rule back so as to add another dimension to this wonderful game of cricket.
Increasing the minimum size of the boundaries
Law 19.1.3 of ICC Men's ODI Playing Conditions states: "No boundary shall be longer than 90 yards (82.29 meters), and no boundary should be shorter than 65 yards (59.43 metres) from the centre of the pitch to be used."
This limit can be certainly reviewed and the minimum limit shall be increased. It has become farcical how even top edges or miscued shots end up going for a six.
However they might be fulfilling the minimum limit, but there are still grounds with ridiculously small dimensions.
If the minimum limit of 59.43 metres gets increased, then we might see the miscued shots go to the hand of a fielder rather than a spectator.
The players these days are stronger, the willow of the bat is different and perhaps more powerful, then why are the dimensions not being increased to nullify one of the many advantages batsmen have in the modern era?
Expanding the 50-over Cricket World Cup
You cannot call it a "World" Cup if you allow only a limited number of nations participating in it. There are a total of 105 nations who play cricket including the Full Members and the Associate Members and all have been awarded the T20 status but the ODI status rests with only 16 nations.
Yet the 2019 Cricket World Cup will feature only 10 nations and in 2023 World Cup it is quite likely to remain the same.
Why are the ICC shrinking the number of participants rather than expanding it? It will perhaps be the best way of promoting cricket in a nation where the sport is not as developed.
We may be not watching or having any knowledge of a sport. But when our country is participating in that sport during the Olympics, we always watch it. The same concept applies here.
Free-hits on No-balls
The concept being used in the shorter formats can be implemented in the Tests as well just to make the format a touch exciting. Sometimes it could be a really handy booster for a crowd during an attritional passage of play.
Besides that one change, I don't think this format needs much of tinkering as it seems perfect the way it is.
World T20 every three years
The T20 World Cup is being held after ever two years and it is quite inexplicable as the World Cup loses it's meaning if it keeps happening in that period of time.
2007 was the inaugural World T20 and it was followed in the years 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016. The next one is scheduled in 2020 and then again in 2021.
The trend is quite erratic and questionable. ICC needs to bring about stability and keep it after every three years. Such erratic trend will only result in its importance being lost and left as nothing but a joke.
Getting rid of the "Soft Signal"
This has been one of the most strangest rules I have come across. A fielder dives and catches the ball near the boundary which is far away from anyone's sight on the field including the umpires.
Now the very fact that the decision is being referred to the third umpire shows that no one knows whether the catch has been taken or not.
In such a scenario, why do the on-field umpires have to give a soft-signal as an indication to the third umpire of what they think?
Obviously, they don't know and that's why they have referred it. Now the problem lies in the impact the soft-signal has on the final outcome.
If the soft-signal is out, then there has to be enough evidence to overturn it or vice-versa, which is totally absurd. Why not scrap it and let the third umpire do his job with the technology he has on offer?
Keeping a track on No-balls
Umpiring is one of the toughest jobs in sports. Similarly, the umpires in cricket might make mistakes at times.
There have been several cases when a batsman has got out off a no-ball and the umpire has missed it.
So why not let the third umpire keep a track on every ball being bowled. If he sees a no-ball, he can always convey it to the on-field umpires.