Needed, an SPCFB
Informal meetings are often very useful, because they can clear the air
that so often is clogged with officialdom and necessarily correct
In traditional conclaves like the International Cricket
Council, this is especially true - which is why the rate of progress of new
issues often resembles the rate of movement of files in government
But as we know, there is a new wind blowing and, as a result, there are
refreshing new statements being made and heard. This was always on the
cards the moment a captains' meeting was convened. Politics and economics
were no longer the dominating issues, and the needs and feelings of
cricketers came out in the open.
Feelings! Bet you thought they didn't
exist anymore. Especially if you are a bowler in this era of one-day
The statements reflected individual and team problems. Sachin Tendulkar
and Mark Taylor are reported to have asked for a longer break between two
series - completely understandable if you looked at the number of
air-miles they logged in the last year. According to a conservative
estimate by British Airways for the Wisden Cricket Monthly, Australia
lead the Test-playing countries with 69,204 air-miles. India were second
with 66,471. England and South Africa did around 30,000 apiece.
But the most interesting suggestion came from Courtney Walsh and Wasim
Akram, who asked the ICC to look at the possibility of introducing one
bouncer per over in the one-day game.
Apart from being senior statesmen
of the game, Walsh and Akram are proud and feared fast bowlers, have over
300 Test wickets each, and have known what it is to be slogged by batsmen
they would gladly have for breakfast anyday in Test cricket. Or, as they
would admit, in more equal cricket.
I fear the suggestion would find its way to the dust-bin with very few
obstacles in the way because, in some ways, this is the cricketing
equivalent of asking for reservations to be removed from public life and
for merit to be the sole criterion. But then, reservations on caste and
religion are sacred cows, aren't they? And merit is a dirty word, isn't it?
If you are a fast bowler, or any bowler for that matter, you would think
batsmen are a preserved species, with newer legislation every day to protect
Pitches, wides and no-balls are the weapons that the law has used to
subjugate bowlers. A 'good pitch' is always one on which the ball comes
easily onto the bat, remember. If a bowler strays marginally, it is a
wide ball and if he should choose to display his teeth, the two dentists
in white coats promptly pull them out by calling no-balls to anything
above shoulder height. In other words, what the law is currently saying
is 'Bowl where the batsman can hit you'.
Akram and Walsh are asking for more ammunition in an unequal
battle.(Remember we haven't even talked about field restrictions, modern
bats and balls that stop swinging in virtually no time). What these two top flight fast bowlers are
saying is: "If the batsman wants to put his foot down and come out to us,
give us something to push him back into his crease. Allow us one bouncer
per over, so that there is at least something for him to think about."
I think it is worth a look simply because we need to do something to
prevent ridiculous scores in one-day cricket. With perfect batting tracks
and field restrictions, the batsmen have one long happy hour, and bowlers
are becoming second class citizens. Worse still, they are losing self
respect. Make a list of the top one-day cricketers today and check out
how many of those are bowlers. Now take Wasim Akram and Curtly Ambrose
out of that list and see what is left.
A bouncer per over would keep that adventurous left foot in check, and
would still not prevent the really classy batsman from scoring runs. More
important, there would be a more equal battle in the mind.
I see one genuine problem, though, which would need solving. Were one
bouncer allowed per over, the numbers of balls that could be scored off
would come down from 300 to, theoretically, 250. A last ball finish would
always be won by the fielding side because the batsman just wouldn't be
able to put bat to ball and there would be a great incentive to play more
Maybe one bouncer per over in the first 15 overs - that phase of a one-day
match that desperately needs some correction? I wonder......Maybe for a
start, we should bring the 15 over field restrictions down to 10. Remember,
the law was introduced many years ago, in the early days of one-day
cricket, to produce more positive cricket. That has long since happened.
If the basis for a law no longer exists, the law needs to be reviewed.
But try suggesting it! Try suggesting reservations be removed! Oops!
It's time, I guess, for Bowler's Lib!