The bowlers' fraternity, in general, is delighted with Anil Kumble's proposal to allow one bowler a maximum of 12 overs in a one-day match. The suggestion to permit a bowler two bouncers per over has also met with widespread support. It was always in his mind to fight for the bowlers, and Kumble, ever the thinking cricketer, presented his ideas at the Board's Technical Committee meeting that came up with a range of proposals to make domestic cricket interesting.
Like B. S. Chandrasekhar in the past, Kumble was one of the rare bowlers who did not depend on help from the pitch to make their point. He never protested the flat pitches and the growing number of rules that favoured the batsmen. His job was to strike, and he ended his career with a tally of 619 Test wickets. He also took 337 one-day international wickets, many of them with the new ball. It was hardly surprising that Kumble chose to back the bowlers in a batsmen-friendly game.
“This will give the team the much-needed boost. It will mean the captain can be more strategic, and the best bowler of the day would look to make the best of his form,” said Kumble. The move would mean the batting side would have to analyse its tactics too.
“I think it will be good for the game. It will make batting a more challenging job when the best bowler of the innings gets 12 extra balls. It will set up a nice contest. It is not just fast bowlers, but slow bowlers can also benefit. The captain can pick bowlers according to the situation,” he added.
Former India fast bowler Ajit Agarkar opined it was an “interesting” move. “It will make the contest challenging. The game was so loaded in favour of batsmen, but this will allow the captain an option. These two overs can make a difference because it will allow you to make up for a bowler who may be having an off day. There is something for the bowlers and it will be nice if Kumble's proposal is accepted.”
For L. Balaji, the move was most welcome. “It will be a big boost for a bowler. A captain need not worry over preserving his strike bowler. It gives the captain extra room and encourages the bowler to go for wickets. Two bouncers per over is also an incentive, but this move will mean we will have less defensive bowlers. The game will become more competitive, and being a captain-bowler, I feel happy about Kumble's proposal. A bowler can be more attacking now and go for wickets,” said the former India speedster.
Venkatesh Prasad, former India seamer and bowling coach, was cautious. “I am not sure if the ICC (International Cricket Council) would approve the move, because the proposal gives advantage to the bowlers. One particular bowler, having a great day, will stand to make the most, which will mean teams would be strictly picked according to the pitches. If the track encourages seamers, spinners would be dumped because the best seamer would get to bowl 12 overs. We have a new ball at each end now and there is one Power Play less. One-day cricket is for batsmen and the bowlers need to accept that and work on their skills.”
Rajasthan's Ranji Trophy winning captain and former India batsman Hrishikesh Kanitkar lauded the move. “It will give the captain the option to use his best bowler of the day in three spells of four overs each, and personally, I feel that can become an important weapon. It is like a four-day match where you go for wickets in short spells. If the bowler is on the spot, then one can use him for an extended spell. We would have less defensive bowlers,' said Kanitkar.
Kumble confessed, “I always had this idea in mind because I wanted the bowlers to be more aggressive. I wanted some thinking on the field because the whole thing was becoming so predictable. The opposition knows when the best bowler will come back, and plans accordingly. Here, the team would have the option of picking the bowler on the basis of the pitch because one of them can be used for 12 overs. It can be a fast bowler or a spinner.” As Kumble stressed, “We can see more five-wicket hauls. And why not? Taking five wickets in a one-day match is a feat just as scoring a century. The opportunities for the bowlers have always been limited. The best bowler of the day will have greater incentive to go for wickets now.”