Cricket: Aakash Chopra and Shashi Tharoor Voice Their Opinions

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Cricket: Aakash Chopra and Shashi Tharoor Voice Their Opinions
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Akash Chopra

Browsing cricketing articles can be a source of joy, especially when the writer knows what he’s talking about.

Aakash Chopra is one among few ex-cricketers who dons his thinking cap before typing words into his posts.

In his recent article “Reinventing The ODI,” the ex-India opener tackles the future of the 50-over format.

Chopra makes two recommendations:

1) To relieve the tedium of the “muddle-in-the-middle,” the bowling power-play should be taken only after the 20th over. The batting power-play should be done with before the 45th over. How cool is that?

2) A more extreme suggestion is that since most teams play with four front-line bowlers—“six batsmen, five bowlers” theory is dead and buried—why not increase their quota to 12 overs each? This ensures that batsmen are not gifted free runs by amateurish trundlers.

I would like to add my two bits:

Fast bowlers should be allowed two bouncers per over, just like in Test matches. Pacers thus retain the element of surprise; serious injury is no longer a concern with state-of-the-art protective gear.

Batsmen will think twice before plonking out their front foot to pacers. Or stroll down the pitch to the likes of Brett Lee or Shaun Tait.

Adrian Murrell/Getty Images
Michael Holding: one of the fearsome breed of West Indian pacers.

The “one-bouncer-per-over” rule (later modified to two for Tests) was framed to counter West Indian domination of the '80s when their fast bowlers terrorised opposition batsmen in packs of four—now a thing of the past.

How about something I term the  “joker-in-the-pack.” Each team consists of 12 named players.

The team batting first can choose to play the extra batsman or bowler in the middle of the innings—a decision postponed until familiar with the conditions (say 30 overs).

If the batting collapses, the skipper can utilise the extra batter to bolster the total. Else, if the team piles up a huge score (minus the extra batter), he can opt to field five front-line bowlers.

Of course, if your team is fielding first, things become a bit more tricky. Do you field five bowlers? How long can you, as skipper, hold in your options? Maybe only until the 30th over. Then you are forced to show your hand.

This would require a radical rethink of ODI rules. Teams now have 12 cricketers in the side. How does that affect selection and strategy?

Will this make the game more interesting or “just very, very complicated”? But then, similar sentiments were expressed about power-plays.

Chopra’s proposals are valid and require minor tweaks to existing rules. They are innovative—not inventive.

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Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor is another who pleasantly surprises with an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the game.

In his latest guest column on Cricinfo, the diplomat-turned-politician expounds on a “Best Of The Rest” team drawn from associate nations for the next World Cup, plucks a People of Indian Origin (PIO) XI from current cricketers and recommends inviting Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to be a part of the Duleep Trophy.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

Quote of the day: 

I believe that a scientist looking at non-scientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy. – Richard Feynman

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