“Give them ‘Z’ (category) security. That’s the only way to protect them. What else can be done?”
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, albeit jokingly, summed up the frustrations of the present-day bowler. The pitches on offer during the current India-Australia series have been as unhelpful as a grumpy government official.
Moreover, with two new balls being used in an innings and only four fielders allowed outside the 30-yard circle during the non-Power Play overs, bowlers have been left in the middle of the battlefield without any ammunition at their disposal.
The current scenario has left the captains troubled in equal measure.
“What needs to be done is, with a particular kind of field set, we force the batsman to improvise so much that he has to hit over the fielder. That’s our best opportunity. If you have an off-spinner bowling and you have the point up, you should not be giving anything through point. The spinners are not getting much turn. So anything that’s slightly short even on the off stump, good players of spin bowling are able to take it through the cover point region for a boundary,” says Dhoni.
George Bailey is none the wiser.
“The four-fielders rule is really challenging. You almost have to give up one side of the field. We’re seeing some of the best fast bowlers in the world having to bowl with a short fine leg. It makes it hard. I’m not sure if it’s something they’ll adapt to. I'm not sure what the answer is, there.”
The introduction of such rules is justified by the assumption that spectators enjoy run-feasts.
This idea seems to have been oversold since it presents bowling as an unattractive skill to the fans.
Unfortunately, this argument has acquired an all-consuming strength due to repeated airings of such views by many within cricket’s establishment.
The stats, though, provide a damning indictment. A combined 69 sixes have already been hit, with one match remaining — a record for any bilateral ODI series.
And, remind yourself that two games produced no result due to rain, with only 54.1 overs of play possible in Ranchi.
This series has also witnessed the second and third highest successful chases in ODI history. After the first match in Pune, the score aggregates have been higher than 600 runs in each of the completed games.
Among the bowlers who have delivered at least 10 overs, Ravindra Jadeja’s economy rate is the best at 5.24.
Overall, 2,887 runs have been scored in this series at 6.46 every over. Certainly, the skill-set of most bowlers from both teams is limited.
But is this a fall-out of the unfavourable conditions for bowlers in limited-overs cricket over the past decade or so? It’s, perhaps, a chicken-or-egg situation.0