In
what is the biggest shake-up in the established format of One-Day
Internationals (ODI) since the original game was standardised by the
International Cricket Council (ICC), major experimental changes have been
approved for trial in London
overnight by the ICC.

This
attempt at breathing new life into the ODI format that was seen as becoming too
predictable is to be trialled over a 10-month period from 30 July, but if Australian
coach John Buchanan had his way he would like to get the new ball rolling in
the three upcoming Australia-England ODI clashes from 7 July.

The
revamp will include a radical football-style substitution where a team can
replace a player with another at any stage of the match with an ability to take
up his remaining bowling or batting options, while the replaced player cannot
return.

The
current opening 15-over fielding restrictions, where only two fielders
are
allowed outside the 30-yard circle will be shortened to the first 10,
and then
a captain must subsequently deploy two more compulsory blocks of five
overs each with identical fielding restrictions, in the remaining 40
overs
– but the captain can nominate their timing. For example, saving the
final five-over block to be bowled at the death in the hope you don’t
need to use them,
would be a fascinating gamble.

But
it is the substitution rule that provides a captain with his greatest tactical
weapon. It certainly allows for the use of a baseball type
designated hitter to be introduced that adds a
whole new layer of strategic complexity to the game. Bowling options also
become more complex.

Certainly
John Buchanan’s “sooner the better” philosophy to bring the ICC trial
starting-date forward beginning with the three-match head-to-head
series at Headingley (7 July), Lord’s (10 July) and The Oval (12 July), will
hopefully meet with England’s support and ICC approval.

Peter Fray

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