By
Ross Stapleton

Tonight Australia and England become the
first test subjects for ICC’s new one-day trial rules including the deployment of a 12th man substitute.

Under
the new rules, both teams have the option of introducing at any stage during
either innings their 12th man, while the relegated player is then
out of the game. But while there’s any number of permutations possible with
the nominated substitute waiting in the wings, the determining factor
as to their use will principally be affected by who wins
the toss. For example, if
Ricky Ponting wins the toss, he knows he can use up his regulation ten overs from Glenn McGrath,
and then bring in his superior batting 12th man to replace McGrath
in the Australian innings.

So
under the new trial rules in this three-game NatWest Challenge, the toss
becomes more vital. It also
means your 12th man is more likely to either be an established
all-rounder who might be added to the mix for either of his batting or bowling
skills, or a specialist batsman rather than bowler, depending on the changing
fortunes of the game.

The
other major variation tonight concerns amending the opening 15-over
fielding restrictions rule, where only two players are allowed outside
the circle. The restrictions will increase to 20 overs – the first ten
overs of an innings, and two more compulsory blocks of five overs each
which are nominated by the fielding skipper as the game progresses.

Undoubtedly,
this opening Headingley trial is going to be fascinating for all cricket fans
to see just how the rule changes pan out, particularly
how both sides approach the use of a 12th man substitute.

Peter Fray

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