Ian Chappell on how ICC deserves criticism for acting late on bat sizes

Feb 08, 2015, 01:33 IST | PTI

The International Cricket Council is fortunate there’s no selection process to decide their fate following a spate of bungling, writes former Australian cricketing great Ian Chappell 

If cricket captains performed like the International Cricket Council they’d be out of a job in no time.

At long last the ICC has decided there’s a problem with bats; they’re being hailed as too good and consequently disturb the balance between bat and ball.

Chris Gayle of the West Indies. PIC/Getty Images 

This, combined with the fact that the ICC also recently decreed that shorter boundaries are contributing to the problem, is a classic case of being way behind the game.

If a cricket captain isn’t at least two overs ahead of the game he’s in big trouble. The ICC is fortunate there’s no selection process to decide their fate following a spate of bungling.

Delayed clean up act
They were similarly tardy in reacting to the plethora of dodgy bowling actions that plagued the game. After a
couple of decades of allowing kids to copy all forms of weird and wonderful deliveries, most of which would have been deemed ‘pelting’ in bygone eras, they’re now in the process of cleaning up bowling actions.

That’s good news but they still haven’t addressed the most important aspect of chucking. There’s no protection for
batsmen dismissed by an illegal delivery; there has to be an on-field call of no-ball from the umpire in the case of a bowler who chucks the odd delivery.

But back to the bats. The ICC has decreed that the boundaries, where possible, will be at a distance of 90 metres during the World Cup. This is an admirable decision but one that should’ve been taken ages ago and for all cricket.
The general rule should be if a bowler is good enough to entice a mishit, the ball should stay within the field of play.

This hasn’t been the case for quite some time and mishits have been clearing boundaries as easily as a world class high jumper sails over a two-metre high bar.

The ball is now rushing back at bowlers and umpires at such a rate off thunder sticks that neither has time to react properly. This issue needs to be addressed before there is a serious injury, not following a mishap.

The balance between bat and ball has seen a major shift in favour of the willow wielders. Not only are the mishits clearing the ropes far too often but edged drives are flying over the head of the slip fielders more regularly.

The result is field placings based more on containment and this also favours batsmen. When bowlers are forced to value containment on the same level as dismissal, the game can be extremely tedious; once the contest is diminished cricket becomes little more than a statistical exercise.

The problem that cricket has in comparison to games like tennis and golf, is there’s only one way to rectify the issue. Tennis can slow down the balls and the courts, while golf can adjust the distance the balls fly and lengthen the course.

Cricket can’t do much with the ball and so, apart from keeping the boundaries at a reasonable distance, the bats are the only solution.

Restrict depth of wood
While it’s hard to stop progress in bat manufacture, it’s time to restrict the depth of wood in the bats. The width of the edges and consequently the meat of the bat has increased enormously and with it the ‘sweet spot’ is considerably widened.

Not surprisingly the bat manufacturers have come out strongly on why bats aren’t the sole reason the ball is flying further. They are probably right but the sole reason the bowlers and umpires are in danger is the speed of the ball coming off the bat. That is all down to the improvement in bats.

If a captain is behind the game often enough he faces the sack; other than wounded pride, no one is hurt.

However, if the lawmakers remain oblivious to crucial trends in the game then it’s only a matter of time before someone is going to be  seriously injured.

Srini wants Yadav to be BCCI chief: Sources

Chennai: Former India off-spinner and interim president of the BCCI Shivlal Yadav in all likelihood is the frontrunner to replace N Srinivasan as the full-time president of the board at the next Annual General Meeting.

In a private gathering of the N Srinivasan faction here on Saturday, the Tamil Nadu strongman has expressed his desire
to see one of his close confidants Shivlal being supported by the East Zone units — namely Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand,
Odisha, Tripura.

“We have been with Srinivasan for a long time and if he wants us to support Shivlal, then we will probably toe the
line,” a member of one the east Zone units told PTI.

Dalmiya skips meet
In fact Jagmohan Dalmiya, who was harbouring ambitions of becoming president, decided to skip the evening get-together of the Srinivasan faction probably having seen the writing on the wall.

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