Ravichandran Ashwin: Bowlers should learn to deal with modern ODI rules
Bowlers are faced with more challenges than batters in modern ODIs, says Ashwin.
The scenes of the 1996 semi-final between Australia and West Indies where spin legend Shane Warne spun a yard to leave the West Indians feel completely at sea is a typical instance of halcyon. Very rarely are we witnesses to such magic bowling spells in the present day.
The new rules have made it tough for spinners
Thanks to the changed laws of ODI cricket by the ICC in 2012, bowlers seem so tiny when looked in isolation. No more than four fielders guarding the boundary line during non-powerplay overs, two new balls at the start of a match, belter of a pitch that is completely flat – all these and more have tilted the game heavily in favour of the batsmen.
Though the actual intention behind removing the fifth fielder, as ICC justifies, was to drive the batting team away from playing conservative cricket of rotating the strike and pushing around for singles and doubles, the outcome has proven to be topsy-turvy. ICC felt the game between the 10 to 40 overs got highly predictable with the batting team simply looking to consolidate their innings. From what can be gathered lately, the same rule has backfired and resulted in batsmen enjoying an undue advantage.
A captain has very little guarantee while introducing a spinner – let alone a part-timer – during these non-powerplay overs. It is like investing on a Ponzi scheme where returns are more likely to go to someone else. These days a spell of spin bowling comes as a blessing in disguise for the batsmen as they no longer try to play the spinners around, but rather go after them boldly playing lofted shots.
Moreover, with two new balls being taken at the same time, no amount of pulling on the udder gets it to yield milk for the spinners. The ball barely gets old for spinners to reap some results out of it. The fast bowlers don’t find any solace either with the pitches being so flat.
The World Cup that is underway in Australia and New Zealand stands a testimony to these biased laws. There have already been three 400 plus scores and as many 300 plus ones. A batsman (Chris Gayle) has already gone on to make a double hundred and it won’t be of any surprise if few more join the so-called elite group.
Except for the low-scoring thriller between Australia and New Zealand at Eden Park last Saturday, this World Cup has not seen any other even contest between the bat and the ball.
Ashwin not complaining
Ahead of the Pool B match on Friday between India and West Indies at the WACA, Ravichandran Ashwin of India, walked up to interact with the media after the team’s practice session.
When asked about the challenges faced by bowlers in the current ODI set-up, Ashwin opined a rational view, “You're faced with more challenges than batters in the modern era when it comes to the coloured and white bowl. But there is no point in complaining. It's not who I am, and I continue to take up the challenges and enjoy it.”
“I feel very little. As I said, there are lots of limitations that things are offered to you as a bowler, but those are the challenges.”
West Indies skipper Jason Holder who joined in a little later, shared a similar view.
“I think the more we spend pondering on the actual field and fielding restrictions, it makes life a little more difficult. I think the quicker we forget about it, we'll try to come up with ways to execute and be successful. But I wouldn't take away the fact that having four fielders outside the ring is quite tough," he said.
It is to be noted that Holder has the unfortunate record of the most expensive bowling spell this World Cup, as he was taken for 104 runs in his ten overs by the South Africans last week.