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Half-hearted job

Half-hearted job
Highlights

The gentleman’s game will never be the same again! A sport that can still take pride in swearing by established traditions, bar the cosmetic changes here and there, the latest rules that came into force on Thursday may not exactly be to the liking of those who play the game.

The gentleman’s game will never be the same again! A sport that can still take pride in swearing by established traditions, bar the cosmetic changes here and there, the latest rules that came into force on Thursday may not exactly be to the liking of those who play the game. Of course, experimentation every now and then augurs well in every aspect of life. But, that ought to be well-orchestrated in that the gains should outdo the negatives.

International Cricket Council (ICC) has every right to ring in changes and amend all those rules that have become obsolete and irrelevant. A major change in perspective has been with regard to giving the bowlers their due share. A sport that is often called batsmen-friendly will now have something to cheer for the bowlers.

On the face of it, there are a few changes that are quite appreciable, particularly those pertaining to the restrictions imposed on the thickness of the willow, although one is not sure if this would in any way reduce the tension for bowlers when a swashbuckling batsman is taking the attack by the scruff of the neck on a given day. The positive aspect is that budding players can concentrate more on technique and less on going on the rampage. This will no doubt come as music to the ears of the purist, especially those who crave to enjoy the romance of Test cricket.

That is perhaps the biggest positive that has come into force. Somehow, one gets the feeling that umpires are being bestowed sweeping powers, which could actually be misused and could malign the image of the sport. No doubt, the warning that players found guilty of on-field misconduct would be thrown out of the match will come as a deterrent.

However, even though the intentions sound good and appear to be aimed at protecting the ‘gentleman’ tag, what cannot miss the eye is that unruly behaviour has been a constant happening while sledging has become a by-word in the way the game is played today. One wonders why ICC had to stoop down and emulate the precedents prevailing in football when the fact of the matter is that cricketing innovations like ODIs and T20s are being incorporated in almost all popular sports.

A red-card sounds ridiculous in domestic matches. Armed with the potent weapon, umpires with vested interests can actually brandish it to unethical levels and alter the verdict thereby making a mockery of fair-play and sportsmanship. Actually, the governing body would have done well had it addressed more critical issues like keeping a thorough check on the over-age menace that has destroyed the careers of thousands of talented youngsters.

For all their talk about ensuring player-safety, not much has been taken on the ground to protect the close-in fielders, though there seems to be some extra thought with regard to wicket-keepers. Inventing measures that could reduce scope for ‘fixing’ could have earned the ICC salutations from all quarters. Otherwise, it is one step forward and two backward.

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