The new ODI rules by the International Cricket Council are adversely affecting bowlers, and the ongoing India-Australia series is the best example of it. Where the environment has been improving for batsmen, the cricket is getting more and more difficult for bowlers. And the organisation responsible for it is the one which is handling the game.
Both teams have been able to play only four of the six games as two ODI were abandoned because of rain. A total of 2565 runs were scored in these four matches, excluding the 295 runs scored in one of the abandoned matches. India have defeated Australia in two such matches where they were chasing a target of more than 350 runs.
The ICC has recently decided to allow two separate balls for both ends in one-dayers. This decision has come as a hard blow for the ‘reverse swing’ because if the opponents play the maximum 50 overs, even then it is quite difficult to obtain reverse swing with a 25-overs-old ball.
And as if it were not enough, the ICC has taken another measure to strengthen batsmen, that is, it has reduced the number of players to four from five outside the 30-yard circle. That’s why in the case of batting wicket, batsmen can endanger bowlers’ career.
The ongoing India-Australia series is also being played in the condition favourable to batsmen. In the first match Australia set a target of 305 runs, and restricted India to 232 to clinch a 72-run victory.
Then in the second ODI in Jaipur, Australia amassed a Himalayan total of 359 runs, but India chased it in the 44th over, with a loss of just one wicket.
The third ODI was another high-scorer where Australia chased a 304-run target, winning the match by six wickets. Rain washed away the fourth and fifth matches. The Aussies scored 298-8 in the first innings, but the second innings could not be completed due to rain. The fifth ODI was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
Then the historic Nagpur mach was held where only 10 wickets were lost and a whopping 701 runs were scored. India chased a target of 351 and so the match was another nightmare for bowlers.
The statistics were staggering if taken as individually, too. The least average of the four top-scorers is 56, whereas the lowest strike rate among them is of 95.91. Australia captain George Bailey has scored 474 runs in the series with an amazing average of 118.50 and almost the same strike rate. Kohli has gathered 344 runs at 172 and with a strike of above 124. Rohit Sharma, 282 runs at 94 and strike rate of 95 and Shikhar Dhawan, 224 runs at 56 with a strike rate of 101.
The result of these batting heroics is obvious: a blow to bowlers. The top three wicket takers are Mitchell Johnson, Vinay Kumar and Ravichandran Ashwin, who have collected 7 wickets each with averages of 33.42, 34.71 and 40.57 and economy rates of 5.68, 7.04 and 6.17, respectively.
Ironically, the batsmen who are making the most of the new ICC rules are crying because of their team’s bowlers. India captain MS Dhoni and vice captain Virat Kohli have objected to these changes. Dhoni has even cited some bowlers saying they felt they should be replaced by bowling machines.
Though the last match of the series is yet to be played, the ICC should reconsider the rules.