When T20 goes wrong…

Very interesting article from Ian Chappell over the weekend.

“When bowlers are reduced to deliberately bowling wide and wickets come off batters’ errors, you know the balance isn’t right.”

What, though, could be done?

I have posted previously on how match regulations might be tweaked to encourage a particular style of play. In effect, I was suggesting that regs and playing conditions might be seen as a constraint on player behaviour within a competitive game.

To reiterate the problem identified by Ian Chappell: when bowlers are reduced to deliberately bowling wide and wickets come off batters’ errors, you know the balance isn’t right.

So, what could be done to encourage bowlers to try to take wickets in T20 matches, and (perhaps) to aim at the stumps (or, at the least, a little closer than the guidance lines)?

Reduce the number of wickets available to the batting team.

  • The game is still 11-a-side, but only 8 (or 9) can bat.

This might incentivise wicket taking — 3 wickets in the PowerPlay will challenge the batting team even more than it does under current playing; take 7 (or 8) wickets, and the innings is closed.

It would also (probably) compel batters to place a little more value on their wicket.

Do away with the power-play fielding restrictions.

  • Allow bowling teams to attack and defend in 1st 6 overs.

Current fielding restrictions mean that they cannot defend effectively (with only 2 in the deep), nor attack by bowling consistently straight…because the batters hitting zone seems to include any delivery pitched straight & full, traditionally the bowler’s attacking line & length; with only 2 fielders outside the ring, batters can take the risk of a mis-hit.

Increase boundary size

Further de-tune bats

  • This would, perhaps, decrease the likelihood of a straight, good length delivery being swiped to the boundary (see also fielding restrictions, above).
  • However, pushing back the ropes might not be possible at every ground; changing bat regs again could reduce batters to near impotence.
  • In any case, big hitting is one of the big features of T20; so, too, are spectacular boundary catches.

Change the ball

What is wrong with the ball used in T20?

  • It seems to be the case that the white ball doesn’t swing in the same way, or for as long, as the red ball;
  • there is insufficient time in a T20 innings for the condition of the ball to deteriorate (legally) to allow reverse swing;
  • spinners are obliged to use a ball that retains lacquer/vanish;
  • dew on the ball, reportedly a serious problem in the recent T20 World Cup, makes it far harder for the team bowling second (admittedly not a problem in all competitions, but pretty serious wherever it is an issue).

What could be done?

  • Use a ball that spinners & seamers can grip & spin; that is less effected by moisture.
    • Perhaps a modified machine ball?
      • They would probably need to be optimised for use on natural pitches, maybe made a little more resilient (or simply replaced more regularly — not an issue, perhaps, if the machine-made balls all behave the same and do not display the gradual deterioration expected of a leather cricket ball).

Using a different ball would require T20 bowlers to develop some new skills (spin, cut & swerve), but as they are experimenting with all manner of variations already, I think someone will come up with successful innovations.

FWIW — I have bowled a little with a machine ball. It is certainly possible to spin and swerve them, they bounce more than an old “net” ball (but not as much as a new pill).

Conclusions

I certainly wouldn’t claim that any of these ideas would solve the challenge of re-balancing T20, certainly not any one of them by itself.

But perhaps a combination of 2 or 3 of them?

At the time if writing, I favour changing fielding regs and using a different ball?

I do quite like the idea of reducing the number of wickets, but that might be a step too far?

Would it still be cricket?

Published by Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB level 2 cricket coach; ECB National Programmes (All Stars & Dynamos Cricket) Activator Tutor; Chance to Shine & Team Up (cricket) deliverer; ECB ACO umpire.

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