Charting the 10 Worst Cricket Gimmicks
At every game during the current Big Bash League, a celebrity, representing a competition-winning family, is stationed throughout the contest on a special platform in the crowd. If the star manages to catch a six, then the aforementioned family will win a cash prize of up to $1 million.
At the SCG for the final Test of the latest Ashes series, a well-known fried chicken proprietor ran a competition that enabled winners to eat the aforementioned poultry while sitting in a box suspended 40 meters above the famous ground.
These are two examples of the gimmicks that cricket, with its many formats and competing territories making it a highly competitive marketplace, has had to endure in recent times.
Let's take at look at 10 of the other worst (or best depending on your point of view) innovations, based on pointlessness and failure, that have graced cricket fields over the years.
10. Magic Bails
OK, let's start off this list with a completely harmless but also completely pointless gimmick.
In the Big Bash League, whenever the stumps are broken or disturbed, the bails light up like a Christmas tree, making them easily visible...just like the normal ordinary wooden ones.
After three years of development, the Zing Wicket System was introduced in 2012 and will surely be launched in the IPL soon.
9. Batting Power Play
The aim of cricket's power-play rules, introduced in the early 90s, is to encourage attacking shots in the early stages of the game. This was a success and helped to bring pinch-hitters like Sanath Jayasuriya to the forefront.
However, a more recent addition is the batting power play, a five-over chunk of fielding restrictions that can be taken by the batsmen at any time in order to theoretically increase the scoring rate.
But it just doesn't seem to work. At best, it leads to confusion with teams unsure when to take it and being forced to mandatorily use it at the end of their innings. And at worse, it initiates a clutter of needless wickets.
8. On-Field Mics
In the latest edition of the Big Bash League, the outgoing batsman often get interviewed literally a few seconds after they've stepped over the boundary rope to leave the pitch.
But even ahead of this, in terms of instant feedback, is the on-field interview. This involves one of the fielders being mic'd up and talking to the commentators for short periods during the innings.
These fascinating insights normally go something like this:
Commentator: Hello, can you hear me?
Commentator: Are you happy with how the game is progressing?
Player: We could do with a few more wickets.
Commentator: Right. Thanks.
But on a serious note, it has led to a few comedic moments like this.
7. Split Innings
This idea has come and gone a few times over the years: split-innings cricket.
It basically means a match is split into quarters rather than halves. One team bats for the first and third segments and bowls in the second and fourth.
The idea is to recreate the dynamics of two-innings cricket. In reality, it leads to some games being over after twenty overs while others go down to the very last ball.
Just like a normal 40 or 50 over game.
Experiments in music accompanying batsman to the crease have had mixed response over the years, with Jack Russell walking out to bat to "How Much Is That Doggy In The Window" a particular highlight.
This was followed by blasts of pop music randomly appearing between overs, which has currently segued into the IPL's repetitive trumpet jingle.
Every time these few seconds of sound get unleashed (seemingly every couple of balls), the crowd erupts like Sachin Tendulkar is walking out to bat accompanied by Elvis Presley as a runner.
Another fairly regular feature of modern day cricket coverage is the sighting of a handful of boozed-up fans surreally watching the game while submerged in a boundary-side jacuzzi.
As per cheerleaders, this looks even more foolish at the English county grounds where a log fire would often be a more useful installation.
It's only a matter of time before hitting a ball directly into the hot tub results in Jacuzzi jackpot bonus runs.
4. Australia vs. ICC World XI
Over two weeks in 2005, the all-conquering Australian team (although they had just lost the Ashes in England) faced a World XI in an experimental Test match and ODI series.
While on paper this was a fairly interesting concept, it resulted in a procession of one-sided wins for the Baggy Greens over a discordant opposition which didn't really care.
The anti-climax sentenced the experiment to the scrap heap...for now. Still, what a couple of teams!
Some batsman, particularly the T20 mercenaries, probably don't realise they've scored a boundary until fireworks go off and scantily clad cheerleaders leap onto their podiums to celebrate the event with a quick jig.
As American as apple pie, the pom-pom wielders are part of the furniture amongst the excitement and glamour of exotic climes such as the IPL and Big Bash League.
Although when the location is switched to a cool damp Tuesday night at Grace Road, they just seem ridiculous.
Either way, this cynical slice of misogynistic titillation seems here to stay.
Over the years, various gimmicks have been thrust upon one-day cricket in an attempt to liven it up in the face of the relentless T20 onslaught.
One of the most short-lived was the introduction of substitutes. In a nutshell, once a player had finished their bowling spell, they could be replaced by a batsman for the rest of the game. Or vice versa.
As reported in 2005 by BBC Sport, England's Vikram Solanki made history by becoming the first player to take advantage of this rule but to use a well-worn cliche...it just wasn't cricket.
Ten months later, the experiment was consigned to the ICC's overflowing dustbin.
1. Stanford Super Series
One of the England Cricket Board's blackest days was when they effectively rented out the national team.
The premise was straightforward. A one-off, winner-takes-all, $20 million T20 match, bank-rolled by disgraced American businessman Allen Stanford between England and a select team of Caribbean all-stars known as the Stanford Superstars.
To cut a long story short, the event was a farce with the match itself, producing a damp squib, with everybody apart from the now millionaire winners wondering what was the point.
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