During a One-Day international (ODI) between England and West Indies in 1979, the Windies needed three runs off the final delivery to win the game. However, England captain Mike Brearley, who is known for having a fine cricketing brain, stationed all his fielders – including the wicket-keeper – on the boundary in the closing stages of a one-day international, making it almost impossible for the opposition team to score a boundary. Although his decision to station all his players on the fence was in accordance with the rule, the writing was on the wall for the game’s apex body. They knew the time to alter the fielding rules has arrived and they duly obliged.
The fielding restrictions were first introduced in the Benson & Hedges Cup in Australia and were adopted for all ODIs after the 1992 World Cup. Over the years, the game has witnessed several changes in its fielding rule. While the first alteration was done to avoid the teams from taking advantage of the situation like the one done by England against the West Indies, later, the rules were modified to make the game more interesting.
By 1992, only two fielders were allowed outside the circle in the first fifteen overs, after which five fielders were allowed outside the circle for the remaining overs. In 2005, the number of overs were reduced to 10 and two five-over Powerplays were implemented. As per the rules, while the first Powerplay consisting of 10 overs started in the beginning of the innings, the bowling team was given the right to use the Powerplay as per their will. They had the right to use it at any time between the 11th and 50th over.
In 2011, the laws were changed again as the team were asked to use the available Powerplays between the 16th and 40th overs.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) officially implemented the changes in ODIs in 2012. The governing body reduced the number of Powerplays during an innings to two. The first one began at the commencement of the innings and lasted till the 10th over. During this Powerplay, only two fielders were allowed outside the 30-yard circle. The second Powerplay, which came to be known as the batting Powerplay, was a five-over affair and the batting team had the discretion over the timing of using it. However, they had to use it before 40th over. During the batting Powerplay, only three fielders were allowed outside the circle. During the non-Powerplay overs, a team had the option of stationing only four fielders outside the circle. Previously, five fielders were allowed outside the circle during the non-Powerplay overs.
In 2015, the ICC once again modified the rules and decided to remove the batting Powerplay and also allowed five fielders outside the 30-yard circle in the last ten overs of an innings.