Game for change: IPL to allow innovations

Now,the format might unleash a host of new innovations that test the game’s Laws to their limit.

Written by G.S. Vivek | Chennai | Published:April 5, 2012 12:46 am

This IPL Season V,get ready for some unusual sights on the cricket field — a batsman batting without pads on,a fielding team without a wicketkeeper,or a man standing behind the wickets with pads on but no gloves.

Twenty20 sent the MCC — the custodians of cricket’s Laws — scratching their heads and running back to their books,when batsmen first unveiled the switch hit. Now,the format might unleash a host of new innovations that test the game’s Laws to their limit.

Hours before Tuesday’s opening ceremony,the match referees and umpires officiating in the IPL held a meeting to discuss several grey areas that had cropped up in recent months,and decided by and large to allow all such innovations during the IPL.

For instance,during the final of the Ryobi Cup — Australia’s domestic one-day competition — Ricky Ponting threw off his pads to enable him to run quicker when his side Tasmania needed two runs to win off the final ball. The officials’ meeting decided that IPL would permit batsmen to do this.

Meanwhile,New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum and Matt Prior kept wickets in an international T20 game without external pads,instead wearing shin pads like other close-in fielders. Australia’s Mathew Wade,in another T20 match,kept wickets with just one glove,to enable him to run batsmen out easier. In a Big Bash semi-final match,the wicketkeeper removed his pads and gloves and stood on the edge of the 30-yard circle like a fielder. The Laws state that fielding teams must have a minimum of four fielders inside the circle. By doing away with pads and gloves,the ‘keeper can also be counted as a fielder,allowing the team place another man on the boundary.

Laws unclear

In India,however,umpires prohibited Dinesh Karthik and Robin Uthappa from attempting such moves behind the wicket during the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament,and the matter was brought to the notice of the BCCI. The umpires then demanded a clear ruling on the issue of allowing wicketkeepers to keep without gloves or with just one glove,as the Laws were unclear on the matter.

“There were a few doubts in the mind of the umpires and the matter of wicketkeepers fielding with one glove or without any gear and allowing gloves to be kept on the ground,since till now only the helmet was allowed,was brought to notice. There was some debate over the issue but it has been decided that IPL shall allow these practices and also add five penalty runs to the batting side if the ball touches the gloves placed on the field,just like the rule for the helmet. Also it was decided that if the batsman also wants to bat without pads,he can do so,” an official who attended the meeting told The Indian Express.

It was also decided at the meeting that any delivery that bounces more than once before reaching the batsman would be declared a no-ball,thus revising the earlier rule permitting two bounces. This is also seen as a bid to avert any instances in the game where bowlers deliberately bowl slow,twice-bouncing deliveries that become extremely difficult for batsmen to hit.

Meanwhile,the umpires meeting was followed by the captain’s meeting and it was unanimously accepted that bowlers would have to warn the non-striker once before ‘Mankading’,to stay with the spirit of the game,even though the MCC’s Laws do not call for a warning.

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