Australian news May 26, 2011

Big Bash may feature 'super over'

Runs would be doubled in a designated "super-over" and spectators allowed to take home balls hit into the crowd under proposed rules for Australia's new Big Bash League next summer.

Cricket fans have been asked to comment on a range of possible tweaks to the rules governing Twenty20, many of which are designed to boost scoring rates in the eight-team competition, which is expected to kick off in December.

Mike McKenna, Cricket Australia's head of marketing and the BBL project owner, has made no secret of his desire to spice up the T20 tournament, which will feature city-based sides such as the Brisbane Heat, and two each in Melbourne and Sydney. One of the most unusual suggestions is for each team to be given one super-over, which would likely be nominated by the batting side before the start of the over.

Cricket Australia's survey states the idea, in which the runs from that over alone would be doubled, was intended "to provide both teams an opportunity to get back into the game". The cricket statistician Ric Finlay, who runs the Tastats website, said introducing such a rule would cause some distortion in the record-books, but it was likely the games could still be designated official Twenty20 matches.

"It is true to say that other interventions have distorted outcomes, including fielding restrictions and powerplays and penalties for no balls," Finlay told ESPNcricinfo, "but this innovation seems on the face of it to be departing more radically from what we know as traditional cricket than anything else that has gone on before. The factor that may allow these matches to be included in records of all T20 matches is the generally-accepted status of all T20 cricket to be a gimmicky form of the game where almost anything goes."

The advantages for the batsmen might not end there. "Based on increasing scoring and making the game more exciting", as the survey says, the 12th man could be allowed to enter the batting order as a kind of pinch hitter, in a similar setup to the super-sub rule that was used in one-day internationals several years ago.

There is also a proposal to allow only one fielder outside the circle in the first five overs of an innings, leaving bowlers little room for error. Two men could be used outside the circle from overs 6 to 10, three fielders from overs 11 to 15, and four men during the final five overs of an innings.

And if those ideas don't create enough of a challenge for bowlers, they may also need to get used to several changed balls throughout an innings. A baseball-style rule is being considered whereby fans would be able to keep a ball that clears the fence, meaning that with many sixes - and the Big Bash record is 14 in an innings - a new ball would be given to the bowler.

However, it's not all bad news for bowlers - allowing two bouncers per over is also a possibility, to allow bowlers a little extra room to attack. The Big Bash League is slowly taking shape, but several key steps remain to be resolved, including the recruitment of players to the eight sides and the part private ownership of two of the Melbourne and Sydney teams.

To take the survey and comment on the proposed rules, click here.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo