It’s not just because they sound as though they were devised in a rush by a second-rate advertising agency that Ricky Ponting hates the new super-sub and power-play one-day cricket rules – although for many fans that is reason enough.
Like many international captains, Ponting objects to them because they are ill-considered impositions on a game which, as the Twenty20 phenomenon amply demonstrates, benefits from simplification, not complication.
The power-play rule, under which fielding captains may choose the timing of two five-over periods of field restrictions, has been boycotted. The idea was to allow the fielding team to spring these power-plays on the batting team during the sometimes long hours between overs 10 and 45, but virtually all captains have elected to get them out of the way as early in the innings as possible.
Whether this represents disdain, petulance or lack of imagination among captains is a topic for bar room debate. Whatever the reason, the rule isn’t injecting the excitement for which it was designed.
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Then there’s the super-sub rule, which allows one substitution per team of a twelfth player declared before the start of the match. Even on paper, it’s a much more interesting concept, as the ad execs might have said, and led to two fascinating situations over the weekend.
The first was the baffling sight of Sri Lankan captain Marvin Atapattu winning the toss on Friday night and deciding to bat second, under the lights at Telstra Dome. His decision, he explained, was predicated on the fact that his super-sub Michael Vandort, playing his first game, couldn’t bowl. Vandort’s excruciating 48 from 117 balls made Atapattu the first captain to use his sub to disadvantage himself.
Contrast this with last night’s thriller at the Gabba. Australia’s sub, all-rounder James Hopes, loomed over the game from the moment Australia’s top-order began to collapse, with speculation over when he would be used and who he would replace.
Both new rules are due for review in May and some changes are likely. Watch for post coin-toss selection of super-subs and the batting captain controlling one power-play.