Former Australian captain Ian Chappell supported the International Cricket Council’s proposed crackdown on the size of bats after the upcoming ICC World Cup of 2015, saying that the increase in the thickness of the willow put the bowlers and umpires under the risk of suffering injuries. Chappell at the same time took potshots at the ICC for waking up so late and being way behind the game in several issues, including that of the size of the bat.
At long last the ICC has decided that there is a problem with bats. They are being hailed as too good and disturbing the balance between bat and ball. This, combined with the fact that the ICC also recently decreed that shorter boundaries are contributing to the problem, is a classic case of being way behind the game, Chappell said.
The balance between bat and ball has seen a major shift in favour of the willow-wielders. Not only are miss-hits clearing the ropes far too often, edged drives are flying over the heads of the slip fielders more regularly. Once the contest is diminished, cricket becomes little more than a statistical exercise, the former captain said.
While it’s hard to stop progress in bat manufacture, it’s time to restrict the depth of wood in the bats. The width of the edges and consequently the meat of the bat have increased enormously and with that, the ‘sweet spot’ has considerably widened.
Not surprisingly, bat manufacturers have come out strongly on why bats aren’t the sole reason the ball is flying further. They are probably right but the sole reason the bowlers and umpires are in danger is the speed of the ball coming off the bat. That is all down to the improvement in bats, said the 71-year-old Chappell.
The ICC has decreed that the boundaries, where possible, will be at a distance of 90 metres during the World Cup. The general rule should be: if a bowler is good enough to entice a miss-hit, the ball should stay within the field of play. This hasn’t been the case for quite some time and miss-hits have been clearing boundaries as easily as a world-class high jumper sails over a two-metre-high bar, he urged.
Chappell also came down heavily on the ICC for being “tardy in reacting to the plethora of dodgy bowling actions that plagued the game.
After a couple of decades of allowing kids to copy all kinds of weird and wonderful deliveries, most of which would have been deemed ‘pelting’ in bygone eras, it is now in the process of cleaning up bowling actions. The ICC still hasn’t addressed the most important aspect of chucking: there’s no protection for batsmen dismissed by an illegal delivery. There has to be an on-field call of no-ball from the umpire in the case of a bowler who chucks the odd delivery, Chappell said.
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