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UDRS is here to stay, day-night Tests to get a go

The Decision Review System has got another thumbs-up last night, this time from the ICC’s Cricket Committee which concluded its two-day meeting at Lord’s in London.

After all the controversy the system generated with its 2.5 metre rule during the World Cup, one would have thought that the Committee would have recommended a few more changes to the system before saying that it should be used in all Test matches. But they’ve gone the other way with this and that’s something that the BCCI and the Indian players won’t be very pleased about.

Some other pretty interesting recommendations were also made and prime among them was the decision to give day-night Test matches a trial in domestic cricket.

 UDRS is here to stay, day-night Tests to get a go

Andrew Strauss calling for the UDRS during the World Cup. It seems, the system is here to stay. AFP/Indranil Mukherjee

The Cricket Committee is chaired by Clive Lloyd, the former West Indies captain and twice ICC Cricket World Cup winner, and it includes ex-Australia captain Mark Taylor, former India coach Gary Kirsten, former India captain Ravi Shastri, ex-West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop and Clare Connor, the former captain of the England women’s team.

The committee’s role is to make recommendations on cricket matters which then go forward to the Chief Executives’ Committee (CEC) for approval before finally being presented to the ICC Executive Board for approval.

And these recommendations will not take effect until ratified and/or approved by the CEC and the Board, both of which are scheduled to meet in Hong Kong from 26 to 30 June. So it’s a long process and in between the BCCI will do everything in it’s power to raise a storm once again.

The following were among the issues covered by the ICC Cricket Committee:

Decision Review System (DRS)

It was unanimously recommended that DRS should be used in all Test matches. It also recommended that it should be used in ODI and T20I series with each side allowed one unsuccessful review per innings. The DRS has been used in Test cricket since 2009 and over the past two years has featured in 31 Tests with each side allowed two unsuccessful reviews per innings.

Umm… so what will the BCCI do now? They have been vehemently opposing the system for a long time and before you know it, they will be scrambling around trying to gather some support to stall the recommendation again. The ICC believes that the DRS, is a system that reduces the number of blatantly wrong decisions but the BCCI, on its part believes that it just isn’t accurate enough.

Day-night Test cricket

The committee concluded that the pink ball is likely to be the most effective ball for potential use in day-night Test cricket but it needed further testing. On that basis, the committee has recommended that the pink ball should be used in the four-day first-class ICC Intercontinental Cup 2011-12 (the tournament involving the leading Associate and Affiliate teams) and also that ICC Member Boards be asked not only to use the ball in at least one round of first-class matches but also be encouraged to trial the ball in day-night matches at venues which have adequate artificial lights.

Whatever happened to all that was pure and sacred? At one level, the ICC is trying to make Test match cricket more accessible to office-goers as well but on a completely different level, they are actually destroying all that Test cricket stood for. Day-night Tests will never have the same charm, as say, a Test being played under the blazing sun in 35 degree heat. The thing that they actually need to be concentrating on is how to improve the quality of Test-playing nations. When India play England or Australia or South Africa – the stands are packed because the quality of cricket is good.

One-Day Internationals

Two balls should be used in each innings, one from each end; (currently only one ball is being used and replaced by a replacement ball after 34 overs); and teams should only be allowed to take the batting and bowling power play between overs 16 – 40;

The committee also suggested that trials of the following playing conditions be conducted in domestic cricket before being considered for international cricket:

Removal of the restriction on the maximum number of overs each bowler could deliver;
- no compulsory close-catchers;
- a maximum of four fielders outside the 30-yard fielding circle during non-powerplay overs; and
- the number of bouncers that can be delivered per over to be increased from one to two.

The recommendations are apparently aimed at enhancing the format and creating an identity for ODIs distinct from the Test and T20I format by improving the balance between bat and ball. But who are they really trying to fool? The only way a balance between bat and ball will be achieved is by creating wickets that help bowlers too. These days whenever that seems to happen, the batsmen seem to complain almost instantly.

The removal of restriction on the maximum overs… does that mean we could see Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh bowling a majority of the overs for India? That doesn’t sound too bad at all when you consider our lack of bowling options.

Over-rates

The committee has recommended that a captain of an international side should be suspended for one match if his side is guilty of two minor over-rate offences in the same format over a 12-month period.

This recommendation would be a tightening of the current ICC Code of Conduct regulations which state that such a punishment is applicable only after three such offences. And this basically means that Mahendra Singh Dhoni is going to think trice before he picks Sreesanth in any format of the game. The committee also directed the umpires to take stricter action against batting teams guilty of time wasting.

Laws and playing conditions

The committee recommended that runners not be allowed in international cricket;

the practice of a batsman intentionally changing his direction whilst running between the wickets with a view to blocking a run-out chance was contrary to the Laws (37.1) and that the batsman would be given out on appeal from the fielding side

The MCC also amended law 42.15 to allow the bowler to run out the non-striker before releasing the ball provided he has not completed his usual delivery swing.

It seems like our esteemed commentators have been asking the batsmen to do the wrong thing all along. How often have we heard them admonish the batsmen for not blocking the fielder’s view of the stumps while taking a quick single? But now, that line of thought will need to change and it’s not a bad initiative at all. And no runners... now that's going to attract a lot of debate and lead to the number or early retirements during games.

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Updated Date: May 12, 2011 14:46:25 IST

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