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Another 400-Plus ODI Total! Where Are the Bowlers in Cricket?



by Rohan Pathak

Alex Hales’ 171 against Pakistan propelled England to the highest ever ODI total of 444/3 in the history of the game on Tuesday.

Wow, what a record! But for how long will the record stand? This score is the eighteenth 400-plus score in ODIs, out of which seven have been recorded in 2015 and 2016.

In 2014, there was only one 400-plus total and in 2013 there were none. Clearly, it’s time for cricket’s name to be changed to batting, or the cricket administrators have to come up with a solution quickly.

Otherwise, the viewers will only get to watch batsmen raising their bats and bowlers holding their heads in shame for not much fault of theirs.

The Mighty Batsmen

Cricket has always been a batsman’s game, but now it seems to be getting out of hand. In 2015 and 2016, there have been nineteen 350-plus scores recorded in ODIs and thirteen 200-plus scores recorded in T20s.

Six of the top nine totals in T20s have been scored in 2015 and 2016 and seven of the top fifteen totals in ODIs have been scored in the same years.

Poor bowling cannot be the only reason for batsmen’s authority in the game. Something is definitely not right. And it involves some of the cricket rules.

Field Restrictions

Field restrictions, which are known as powerplays in cricket have been one of the biggest banes for the bowlers.

The restrictions were introduced by the ICC in 2005 and since then many changes have been made to the rule.

Presently, in ODIs, only two fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard-circle in the first ten overs, between 11-40 overs – four fielders are allowed outside the circle and in the last ten overs – five fielders are allowed outside the inner circle.

In T20s, only two fielders are allowed outside the inner circle during the first six overs, which are the powerplay overs. And for the rest of the innings, four fielders have to be inside the circle.

The restrictions were introduced so that more high scoring matches could take place, but eleven years later, a 350-plus total in ODIs has become almost a regularity.

The batsmen cash in on the first ten overs and score runs with a lot of freedom and then in most matches, they carry over the momentum in the remaining overs of the match.

Considering the big bats the players use nowadays, the bowlers should at least be given the liberty to set their field without any restrictions.

Two New Balls at Each End in ODIs

ICC introduced the rule of using two new balls at each end at the start of a one-day international match in 2011.

This rule helps the bowlers when the conditions are favourable to them, but when the conditions are suitable for batting, the same rule backfires.

On a good batting track, the new ball comes nicely onto the bat, which allows the batsmen to middle the ball perfectly and then they go on to score a lot of runs.

The two new balls at each end rule has also made it difficult for the bowlers to reverse swing the ball because it can never get old enough.

Former Indian batsman Aakash Chopra had an interesting take on the issue; he said:

Instead of having two new balls at each end, why not start a match with one new ball and then introduce another new ball after the 25-over-mark. It may add spice to the contest.
Flat Pitches

Flat pitches have been usually provided in the Indian sub-continent and all the players around the world have accepted it. But some of the pitches in Australia have also turned flat, which have allowed batsmen to notch big totals for their sides.

On a flat deck, the bowlers can hardy get any purchase. They have to wait for the batsmen to make a mistake to get them out.

Australia’s batsman David Warner said in July that flat pitches are to be blamed for high totals and not big bats.

The wickets are pretty much dictating the Test in the arena at the moment and a lot of batters are scoring a lot of runs. David Warner

In 2015, former Australia batsman Justin Langer showed his concern over the flat pitch issue in Australia.

I think that’s one of the issues around Australia – that we’re playing on wickets that are not necessarily conducive to great Australian cricket. They’re so flat, aren’t they? A couple of years ago, there was quite a strong directive that we had to get flatter wickets. I will put my hand up – I think the WACA for a few years, maybe the Gabba, maybe Bellerive, went too far the other way.
Justin Langer