Transformations in Cricket : More Result Oriented Matches

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Transformations in Cricket : More Result Oriented Matches

There was a time when ODIs used to be of 60 overs. That was the time when Sunil Gavaskar scored unbeaten 36 runs from 174 balls with a four and batting out 60 overs as an opener. India managed to put up 132/3 from 60 overs in response of England's total of 334/4. It may sound weird today but that was another era and now the wheel has gone a full circle. We have now witnessed the excitement of T20 and a lot has changed in the way cricket is played today.

The introduction of T20 cricket has changed the whole scenario of world cricket today. While most of the test matches would finish in a draw just a decade ago or so, now we can experience more result oriented and more exciting test matches. Test matches today get down to the last overs of the fifth day and that’s the effect of amount oflimited overs cricket played around the world. ODI cricket has also evolved itself. Even 350+ scores are not safe scores nowadays as top teams have chased down those scores successfully not just once but time and again. The amount of close contests is getting bigger and has attracted more fan-following as a consequence. Batsman scoring 264 individual run in an ODI match, team chasing down mammoth total of 434 in ODIs, and many more of these feats were out of imagination earlier.

There are many reasons for this transformation in cricketing world. We have seen changes in rules and playing conditions, approaches in playing and training players and so on. Someof the major reasons have been dealt below:

Advent of T20 cricket

At the professional level, T20 cricket was originally introduced by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in 2003 for the inter-county competition in England and Wales. The first international T20 match was played on 17th February, 2005 between Australia and New Zealand at Eden Park, Auckland. But the real change was seen after the completion of World T20 2007 held in South Africa. T20 cricket has brought a revolution in terms of fitness level, speed, agility, reaction time and playing approach.

The cricketing world saw a nail biting contest between India and Australia in Chennai Test in December 2008, when India chased down 387 on the final day of the Test. And after a few days, South Africa managed to chase down 414 against Australia. That was the second-highest run-chase in the history of the game. Teams nowadays go after the target in fourth and fifth day of a test match a lot more which wasn't the case earlier. The confidence of getting to targets if batting team has wickets in hand has gone to a new level and that is because of the fearless and aggressive cricket played in T20s. Tournaments like Indian Premier League (IPL) and Big Bash League have played a major role in this. Men like Dilshan and McCullum started hitting bowlers over the wicketkeeper's head. Dilscoops, switch hits and much more new shots are seen today that was completelyunheard of previously.

Batsman friendly fielding restrictions

Fielding restrictions were first introduced in the Australian 1980-81 season. By 1992, only two fieldsmen were allowed outside the circle in the first fifteen overs, and then five fieldsmen allowed outside the circle for the remaining overs. The concept of batting powerplay in ODIs was introduced and again removed in 2015. First 10 overs of mandatory powerplay can consist of maximum 2 players outside the 30 yard circle.

Based on fielding restrictions, teams now change their gear. Teams don't only score high in powerplays but keeps the same rate going in the middle overs too. If we analyze balls per boundary, balls per single and dot percentage in the middle overs before June 2015 and since 2015 in successful run chases, it is clear that teams have increased the run scoring rate in the middle overs and hence came out victorious.

Image Source: ESPNCricinfo
Image Source: ESPNCricinfo

Flat pitches and playing conditions

The pitches and playing conditions have changed a lot in last decade or so. We would rarely find pitches with bounce and seam movement especially in sub-continent with all 4 ODI double hundred scored in India. Smaller grounds and no help for pacers make it easier for batsmen to score runs. Moreover, the rules also seem to favor batsman. Batsmen get a free hit for a overstepping and cannot get out in that ball. Just one bouncer allowed per over in a T20 match compared to two bouncers per over in ODI. The size and quality of bats have also contributed their part. Not taking anything from batsmen skills, even mistimed hits from the bat of Gayle and Dhoni go for a six.

Rise of allrounders

A player got to contribute in all three dimensions batting, bowling and fielding in modern cricket. A player cannot always make to a team just because he can bat or bowl. Guys like Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russel, James Faulkner, Ravindra Jadeja are equally effective in all three departments. A catch or a runout can immediately turn the match around in tight contests.

Ritesh Ghimire

Ritesh is a Computer Engineer, Web Developer and an active cricket follower. Being the founder of LetzCricket, he has been watching and analysing Nepali and International cricket and sharing his opinions through LetzCricket.