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Cricket: The 5 Day ICC Conference That Went By

The 5 day annual conference that went by – was it to address issues or to reform Cricket? That was the simple outcome at the end with the DRS taking more width than what Cricket actually is.

Decision 1 : Track the decisions rather than the ball, please
To make the BCCI win and also to make other member boards agree to a solution to the long standing split on the DRS accessories, the ICC has indeed taken a bold decision (hopefully) knowing what the exact problem with the usage of ball tracking system is. Hot Spot made mandatory and all member countries agrees to and hence DRS without Haw eye (or any other “eye’s”) made mandatory in all tests and ODIs. By stats of the last decade, the (U)DRS was actually brought into place to increase the number of correct decisions made and not to make the cricketing world aware where the ball is headed towards after an obstacle. So the decision taken is correct. But ball tracking is not the only product of Hawk-eye. So it’s up to the individual boards to decide whether to use this particular technology offline. Also, now arise the problem for a batsman taking a review for an lbw decision when the ball doesn’t hit the bat in between. Another problem is, including Hot Spot not only increases the correct decisions but also increases the cost spent per day ($5,000 or $60,000) by the home boards. Hence, looking at the cost aspect I would suggest that the ICC should have had an annexure here saying that the inclusion of DRS solely depends on the series conducting board and it’s mandatory for all major ICC events involving all member countries. But the confusion among players in using DRS at one place and not at the other will be more than the problem which the Hawk-eye creates,

Decision 2 : From reviews to a review
Is it a wise decision taken by cutting down the number of wrong reviews to one? Only the players can answer this. This might make the batsman or the captain analyze more on the decision before calling up the third umpire (is there any review on third umpire’s decision whether he is reviewing the correct delivery and not its previous one?). When the number of reviews allowed is made single and with ball tracking removed, there arises a question whether a batsman reviewing for an lbw decision be given one more chance? Or in a situation when the batsman is given not out and awarded the runs scored and the fielding captain reviews for lbw and third umpire says its still not out but it’s a leg-bye. Here both the umpire and captain are wrong in their decisions but the captain alone gets punished.

Decision 3 : Sorry, you are supposed to run for yourself
The decision to abolish runners can never be termed right or wrong. Usage of runners just to make sure a batsman anchors for long is bad but still there are genuine cases who definitely need a runner, say, in case of 9 wickets down for a team batting second and the proper batsman in injured in the course and needs a runner to take his team through. The rules should have been made strict rather than abolishing it entirely. A player on a hot day match, after fielding for first 50 over’s and coming back to bat in the first over of the second innings and who tries to bat throughout has this problem of fatigue. So definitely needs a runner (cricket is a team sport). So, no runners mean no substitues? Definitely not. A fast bowler after bowling 5 or 6 overs continuously with an over break inbetween at third man or fine leg is still allowed to go back to the dressing room, take rest and come back for the next spell; an opener fielding in the first innings may return to the pavilion before the innings gets over and get the needed rest before he opens for his team but a batsman cannot have a runner and he needs to run for himself as well as for his partner.

Decision 4 : Try obstructing or backing up too far
These changes to run out laws are great step by ICC. But these are not new and exist in the rule book since ages but never been used since they look close to cheating. So the batsman’s taking that as an advantage is cut down here. By this decision, any batsman who might get run out tries to (purposefully) obstruct the field, like changing his course and running in the path of the ball, and also a non- striker who is backing up (unfairly) can be run out by the bowler himself.

Decision 5 : A ball an end in ODI
Had the ICC CEC heard Sachin Tendulkar wrong? Players like Tendulkar had been suggesting that the ODI’s be played like 2 innings of 25 over’s each. Here the ICC had decided to use a ball from each end in an innings. This too is 25 over’s right? The idea here is to protect the colour of white balls (till when will be question. Might be till pink balls take preference). Or might be the idea is to limit the advantage the spinners or might be pacers are to be limited in their usage of reverse swing. But don’t forget spinners have adapted to using new balls and many a times opening the innings. I wonder wasn’t there any former pace bowler in the panel.

Decision 6 : Powerplays, give the power!!
Powerplays get their nod. They are now to be used what they were designed for – to make middle overs in an ODI interesting. The ICC is spot on in restricting teams to take up their batting and bowling powerplays between over’s 16 to 40. So mandatorily, power plays will be taken from over’s 31 to 40.

Decision 7 : Not going to complete the allotted over’s in the allotted time?
Suspension of captains for over rate breaches in the same format within 12 months is now after 2 such instance instead of 3. This is yet another bold and needed decision taken by the committee.

Decision 8 : Associates, you win. But have to qualify for next
The dilemma with the 2015 world cup format is finally over. It remains as 2011 with 4 associate teams. The 2019 will be cut short to 10 with top 8 ranked teams get a direct entry and the remaining 2 positions for the top 2 qualifiers. A logical decision for the problem. So this means that 2 full member nations are at risk of not playing a world cup. But this decision will make sure that ODI’s survive as well the event keeps up its interest throughout.

Decision 9 : This is the only way to make up for the costs
By allowing 4 associate members to play the 50 over event in 2015, the 2012 World T20 is reduced to 12 from the proposed 16 with just 2 associates. ICC believes scrapping 4 from T20 will adjust the cost of including 4 in 50-50. Is T20 that costly? If this is possible then where will the ICC adjust the cost of mandatory usage of Hot Spot? Will they scrap 2 member nations? I wonder how the ICC CEC agreed to this proposal when all they said earlier was that T20 was the best way to spread the game across continents.

Decision 10 : An official and unofficial window
You ask for a window for IPL, great players criticize the option and finally ICC agrees to an official window for Champions League T20 every September and with no major tours for most countries during April-May. So this shuts down further arguments and further windows for proposed BBL or SLCL.

Decision 11 : The next 8 years
The FTP for the next 8 years ensured that top teams remained top and lower ranked teams remained minnows. Teams like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe have to prove that they are competitive enough in the limited matches they get. The best outcome of the approved FTP is that test matches are given importance and the Test Championship thought is given life. The icing on the cake is that there is going to be Indo-Pak series in the future.

Decision 12 : Democratic countries, please democratize
The ICC has urged and given a deadline of 2 years with a grace period of one more year for its member boards to disconnect from political parties in their countries and to democratize themselves so that the cricket body in their country is headed by the right people by means of elections. This is yet another better decision taken at the meeting. But wonder whether the political unrest between India and Pakistan will be ignored and home and away series between the 2 nations kick start.

Decision 13 : Mr. President
The much awaited decision on deciding the post of the President of ICC was postponed from Day 1 of the conference and finally has been decided to defer till October. Its valid that the boards of Pakistan and Bangladesh oppose this as they are due to have a shot at the rotational system existing currently. It will be better if ICC, during its October meet decide to go ahead with presidential elections once the rotational system completes its cycle.

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