Kapil Dev recently said that bowlers seem to belong to the labour class while batsmen are the officers. Present day international cricket is converting bowlers into slaves of batsmen. Cricket is not anymore the contest between bat and ball but the pampering of batsmen at the expense of bowlers. The new rule of having an extra fielder inside the thirty yard circle is confirming the partiality towards batsmen.
Limited overs cricket was conceived half a century ago to make the game entertaining. With West Indies and Australia having some brilliant stroke makers, the first World Cup in 1975 became a great success.
Since then, there has been gradual tinkering with the rules to suit the batsman. But putting one extra fielder in the 30 yard circle is the limit. Does the ICC want a score of 400 in every match? Is that entertainment?
The rule now is that two players will be out of the circle in the first power play of 10 overs which means that seven players will be inside. For the batting power play of five overs which has to be taken before the 40th over, there shouldn’t be more than three outside the circle.
Such field restrictions will make sure that spinners don’t flight the ball. It has made the condition so batsmen-friendly that there is every chance of a boundary even on a mishit. Of utmost significance is the issue of hardness and changing of the ball. With the rule of two balls to be used in an innings, the ball remains hard and becomes a cake to hit for the batsman. Then in the fast and small outfields the ball reaches the ropes in lesser time. Even when a spinner comes on to bowl in the 20th over, the ball will be only 10 overs old for him.
The matter is clear. Bowlers are being exterminated. They are being treated as bowling machines for batsmen to practice their shots. And what sort of players will these rules create? What will be the standard of International cricket?
Most teams have started keeping a different set of bowlers for the two formats and they practice accordingly. Indian team has most of its medium pacers on the injured list and one’s who are playing are not fully fit. The result can be seen in the hammering they constantly receive.
In the match played at Rajkot, Indian medium pacers gave 38 runs in the last two overs and that cost us the game. If we have to play Ishant Sharma in both the formats, there is hardly any time for him to practice according to each format. Even Brett Lee has struggled playing limited over matches immediately after playing Test.
One solution can be to introduce specialist players for each format. Ever since the advent of limited overs cricket, the bowlers have been constantly trying to restrategise themselves. Alas it seems the only thing that they can do to survive in the game.
They invented different versions of the slower ball to contain batsmen in the slog overs and it worked. But rules have changed yet again and sadly the bowler has to restart the process of readapting himself. Times are clearly bad for bowlers and they have every reason to feel dejected.