Cricket rules March 20, 2012

Innings swap, anyone?

Is there anyone else out there who spends their day thinking about cricket, coming up with theories on how to improve it?
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Is there anyone else out there who spends their day thinking about cricket, coming up with various theories on how to improve one aspect of the game or the other? None of these ideas are ever likely to be accepted by the ICC, but that's never stopped my friends and I from whiling away the hours, debating these concepts and imagining the implications. It's good stuff to argue about on rainy days, cooped up in dressing rooms, waiting for the umpires to call off the match. That's happened a lot in Brisbane lately!

Here's an ODI hypothetical; the genesis of the idea comes from a good friend called Baldy who lives and breathes cricket whilst pretending to be a chartered accountant of dubious distinction.

I edited his idea a little bit but in essence, to make allowance for the toss of the coin being too much of an advantage, Baldy proposes that the team losing the toss can call for an "innings swap/suspension' sometime between overs 15-40. So on a pitch that is very helpful to the bowlers, Team A wins the toss and chooses to insert Team B. If Team B is struggling at say 3 for 50 after 15 overs and thinks there is still some life in the pitch, they can call for an 'innings swap' and have a crack at utilising those conditions themselves. It also means they have to bat last on that pitch, which could mean it has flattened out or it could start to slow down or take spin or keep low. That's the risk they take by choosing to call for the swap.

Similarly, if the pitch is a belter and Team A is smashing you all round the park, Team B calls for the swap and tries to make the most of the batting conditions. The variations are endless but it does provide a strategic edge to the game that becomes very interesting during that so-called "boring middle overs" segment of an ODI. It's yet another way for a captain to constantly think on his feet and halt momentum if he thinks it might swing the game. When Team A is in the middle of a destructive partnership or when Team B is bogged down and losing wickets, call for the swap, change momentum and see if that brings about a twist. It's a bit like making a bowling change, sending a pinch hitter up the order or calling for a Powerplay.

I love the idea - all of a sudden we take nothing for granted. The game may be drifting along but we're constantly watching the body language of the captain of Team B, second guessing what may be going through his mind and waiting for something that may not even happen. Maybe even allow Team A to also call for an innings swap (so long as they do it after Team B has exercised their call first) so that no innings will potentially drift for 50 overs without potential for a change.

Maybe Team A (if they wish to exercise their option for a swap) can only do it at the exact point at which Team B made the original swap. If Team B called for a swap after the 20th over, Team A can also exercise that option at the 20th over or they have to bat through their innings. It just gives the team that loses the toss a chance to exert some influence on the game. It also keeps us spectators on our toes, watching and waiting for the strategic swap call. Even if the captain never makes the call, it's more stuff that the armchair experts can debate till the cows come home. Should he or shouldn't he have called for the swap?

Imagine calling for the swap just after the batting team has taken their Powerplay? That could totally halt momentum for a batsman who was in the groove. He needs to start again a few hours later, on a pitch that may have changed in nature, against a bowling attack that is now refreshed and he needs to find his rhythm all over again. I remember the very few times when I've been hitting the ball sweetly before a lunch or tea break and then returned after the interval to find that I had completely lost my timing. Or when the ball had been swinging all over the place and suddenly stopped swinging after lunch as the weather changed or I just lost that perfect rhythm I was in. I'm probably the only cricketer in history who bowled 5 wides on a hat-trick ball and the excuse I'm sticking with was that it was punctuated by the tea break so when I came on to bowl my hat-trick ball, I had stiffened up completely and lost my radar. We ended up losing by one run too!

The downside of course is going to be around the logistics of TV breaks, scheduled meal breaks for players and the on-ground catering arrangements. Yes, that is a problem. Test cricket copes with it to some extent so it's not insurmountable but some people may not like the lack of flow. I concede that weakness. TV networks may not like the lack of predictability but it is that very factor that might also keep people watching the entire telecast without channel surfing or mowing the lawn during those middle overs.

Look, it's never going to fly so I'm just throwing it out there for a bit of light-hearted fun. Maybe it will trigger some other ideas that will provide us all, wherever we are in the world, with some more ammunition to throw around when we're stuck in a dressing room, bored at work or solving the real world issues at a barbeque or braai with our mates. If you have any ideas or suggestions, chuck 'em at us. The ICC will never read this so we might as well have a bit of fun with it. That's the beauty of the internet - we're all connected through a shared love and everyone's an expert!

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Maws on November 7, 2012, 2:07 GMT

    Was reading this, noticed that you'd taken an idea from Baldy - had to stop reading, having played a season @ Valleys (in Baldy's team) I can't believe that anyone would ever take anything he said seriously!!! :D

  • Shivaraj on March 29, 2012, 1:08 GMT

    Guys,..can't stop myself from proposing this outlandish idea. Very simple and quite plausible. Why not have a model where the batting team could decide on the bowlers (regular bowlers only) they would want to face during a bowling team opted power play. I know this doesn't do away with the toss being the deciding factor, but lends that spunk to the game which you guys are trying to get to.

  • Ali Khan on March 25, 2012, 8:44 GMT

    I had sent almost exactly the same idea to the ICC a couple of years ago. Also sent a copy to cricinfo. As a result, Australia tried the two innings format. This did not work out because they were just playing two twenty over innings. My idea was to allow the first team batting, the option to declare anywhere between the 15th and 35th overs. The team batting second would have the same option. The teams would then resume their second"innings" at the same score they had stopped. In the second innings, the teams would have the option of changing one player. So, if the first team had lost too many wickets in their first outing, they could bring in a batsman in their second outing. This opens up a raft of exciting tactical possibilities. I believe this is the way to save the ODI game.

  • YAQOOB ISMAIL on March 25, 2012, 6:42 GMT

    Cricket already saturated with rules and luck being integral part of every sport, it is more so in cricket. Instead of swap, which again is luck oriented as just one good ball from an ordinary bowler can ruin a top class batsman or a six from #11 can ruin a best bowler, rules be adopted to minimize luck and enhance performance. I did suggest and still go for only one toss per series with option to bat or ball on rotation basis. It will give almost equal apportunity to both teams to utilize conditions.

  • Anders on March 25, 2012, 3:14 GMT

    Similar(ish) idea: in a Test series, whoever loses the previous Test can choose whether to bat or bowl in the following Test.

  • kumar on March 25, 2012, 2:55 GMT

    I feel that the team losing the toss should be allowed to change 2 or 3 players after the team winning the toss has announced its decision. But, for a team like India, with no bowling reserves, it will not matter. A better way of innings swap in ODI would be to split the 100 overs into 4 25 over sessions; Team A wins toss and has the option to decide what to do in the first half (50 overs) or in the second half. Team B can decide for the other part. That way, innings swap is not random, but is set at every 25 overs. Finally, test matches can have points system, like its done in county cricket and Indian first class system? That way, even after two or three boring draws, teams that bowl or bat better can be declared winner after the series.

  • Devraj Mallik on March 25, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    Super sub will work exceptionally well in T20..try it out ICC!

  • Sarfaraz on March 24, 2012, 21:32 GMT

    This definitely does not sound like cricket.....maybe baseball or gulli dunda

  • ed on March 24, 2012, 19:05 GMT

    then why do we need a toss?? also, how will d/lewis apply?

  • Chetan asher on March 24, 2012, 14:59 GMT

    The super-sub was a brilliant idea that captains could not use well. 4 /5 years back, when India's batting was at its peak - Imagine the plight of the opposition captain who wins the toss with Super-sub for India = Sachin Tendulkar ! Or Dhoni's plight when he wins the toss against Australia on a green top with Super-sub = Brett Lee ! Damned if you bat, damned if you bowl in both cases... Unfortunately, none of the captains had the guts to try these tricks & cricket lost a fantastic option to neutralize the toss impact.

  • Maws on November 7, 2012, 2:07 GMT

    Was reading this, noticed that you'd taken an idea from Baldy - had to stop reading, having played a season @ Valleys (in Baldy's team) I can't believe that anyone would ever take anything he said seriously!!! :D

  • Shivaraj on March 29, 2012, 1:08 GMT

    Guys,..can't stop myself from proposing this outlandish idea. Very simple and quite plausible. Why not have a model where the batting team could decide on the bowlers (regular bowlers only) they would want to face during a bowling team opted power play. I know this doesn't do away with the toss being the deciding factor, but lends that spunk to the game which you guys are trying to get to.

  • Ali Khan on March 25, 2012, 8:44 GMT

    I had sent almost exactly the same idea to the ICC a couple of years ago. Also sent a copy to cricinfo. As a result, Australia tried the two innings format. This did not work out because they were just playing two twenty over innings. My idea was to allow the first team batting, the option to declare anywhere between the 15th and 35th overs. The team batting second would have the same option. The teams would then resume their second"innings" at the same score they had stopped. In the second innings, the teams would have the option of changing one player. So, if the first team had lost too many wickets in their first outing, they could bring in a batsman in their second outing. This opens up a raft of exciting tactical possibilities. I believe this is the way to save the ODI game.

  • YAQOOB ISMAIL on March 25, 2012, 6:42 GMT

    Cricket already saturated with rules and luck being integral part of every sport, it is more so in cricket. Instead of swap, which again is luck oriented as just one good ball from an ordinary bowler can ruin a top class batsman or a six from #11 can ruin a best bowler, rules be adopted to minimize luck and enhance performance. I did suggest and still go for only one toss per series with option to bat or ball on rotation basis. It will give almost equal apportunity to both teams to utilize conditions.

  • Anders on March 25, 2012, 3:14 GMT

    Similar(ish) idea: in a Test series, whoever loses the previous Test can choose whether to bat or bowl in the following Test.

  • kumar on March 25, 2012, 2:55 GMT

    I feel that the team losing the toss should be allowed to change 2 or 3 players after the team winning the toss has announced its decision. But, for a team like India, with no bowling reserves, it will not matter. A better way of innings swap in ODI would be to split the 100 overs into 4 25 over sessions; Team A wins toss and has the option to decide what to do in the first half (50 overs) or in the second half. Team B can decide for the other part. That way, innings swap is not random, but is set at every 25 overs. Finally, test matches can have points system, like its done in county cricket and Indian first class system? That way, even after two or three boring draws, teams that bowl or bat better can be declared winner after the series.

  • Devraj Mallik on March 25, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    Super sub will work exceptionally well in T20..try it out ICC!

  • Sarfaraz on March 24, 2012, 21:32 GMT

    This definitely does not sound like cricket.....maybe baseball or gulli dunda

  • ed on March 24, 2012, 19:05 GMT

    then why do we need a toss?? also, how will d/lewis apply?

  • Chetan asher on March 24, 2012, 14:59 GMT

    The super-sub was a brilliant idea that captains could not use well. 4 /5 years back, when India's batting was at its peak - Imagine the plight of the opposition captain who wins the toss with Super-sub for India = Sachin Tendulkar ! Or Dhoni's plight when he wins the toss against Australia on a green top with Super-sub = Brett Lee ! Damned if you bat, damned if you bowl in both cases... Unfortunately, none of the captains had the guts to try these tricks & cricket lost a fantastic option to neutralize the toss impact.

  • Arun on March 23, 2012, 17:52 GMT

    Why not make it a compulsory swap and make it a two inning affair? The same logic applies to the two inning proposal too. The problem of powerplays and commercial aspects are also taken care of by making it a compulsory inning break after 25 overs.

  • AB on March 23, 2012, 16:54 GMT

    There's nothing wrong with the 3 formats we have. If anything, there are too many rules and restrictions already. Keep it simple, stupid, and let the game speak for itself.

    What cricket needs is context and consistency, not constant fiddling. One world cup in each format, with every team having to qualify from scratch. 3 or 5 test series, culminating in a test championship between the top 2 teams every 5 years before the figures are reset. No more cricket outside this, and no more rule changes.

  • Meety on March 23, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    Some good ideas, but rather they get implemented in T20s rather than in 50 over cricket. I don't think there is anything fundamentally wrong about 50 0ver cricket. I actually appreciate it more since T20s have come along. The trick in my mind is to make pitches that are fair to both sides & I don't really recall any pitches disadvantaging any team in the recent tri-series in Oz.

  • Bakya on March 22, 2012, 23:30 GMT

    How about giving the team losing the toss the chance to change one of the 11 players in the opposing team? They can only swap a bowler for a bowler, a batsman for a batsman or a keeper for a keeper.

    If the team winning the toss wants to avoid this, they can forfeit the toss, but they won't get a chance to swap the othe team's player.

  • Damien Pollock on March 22, 2012, 23:02 GMT

    Does anyone just like cricket anymore ? The only innovation I can see that has really done anything is the two balls used in one dayers, & that is for playability not to make things more interesting. If you find the game boring or are losing interest, perhaps you should look for something else to do with your time. I know it's fun to speculate but I do feel that people are looking at the game as the problem when it is more likely them that has changed.

  • Gaurav Seth on March 22, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    In such case, why can't we have 4 innings in a ODI or T20 with 25 and 10 overs each respectively. I would leave the test unchanged to keep as it is.

  • Anonymous on March 22, 2012, 7:16 GMT

    I think the super-substitution rule was a great rule. But was badly implemented. The same rule with minor tweak can be a great tool to remove the advantage of winning the toss. 1. Allow the teams to nominate 13 players before the toss. 2. Only eleven of the 13 players get a chance to bat. This can be decided by the captain / coach based on the situation the team is. However, if a batsman gets injured while batting, he cannot be substituted by another member. 3. Only eleven of the 13 players can be in the field while the team is fielding. The fielding captain / coach has the option for unlimited substitution from 13 players nominated while bowling or fielding.

    The above would allow both the fielding / batting captains to use their best players as per situation negating the influence of coin....

  • Sach on March 22, 2012, 2:45 GMT

    Don't fix something that isn't broken. ODI cricket isn't broken. Just create fair pitches and bigger boundaries, you will have great ODI cricket like in the recent CB series. Don't need to tweak it so much.

  • Sach on March 22, 2012, 2:45 GMT

    Don't fix something that isn't broken. ODI cricket isn't broken. Just create fair pitches and bigger boundaries, you will have great ODI cricket like in the recent CB series. Don't need to tweak it so much.

  • Abhijeet on March 21, 2012, 14:20 GMT

    Instead of swapping an inning and creating a chaos, how about two innings in an ODI......team A bat 20 overs, Team B 20 overs. play this over two innings and build test match ethos in ODI. team can even ask other team to follow on....if team A has scored 250 runs in his first inning and bowled out other team within 100 runs margin then ask other team to continue batting.

    In this case, you are totally killing those boring middle overs plus team who lost the toss won't be in great disadvantage of early moisture or night dew or afternoon slowness of the pitch.

    the only problem is, if it is good to start 2nd inning from the start or from the point team has left its first inning? and that could easily be examined during List A matches.

    my personal opinion is that the two innings should start afresh with 10 wickets each.

    What you say?

  • silverpie on March 21, 2012, 12:54 GMT

    If you want to simplify the logistics of the proposal, here's an idea: allow the switch only at a drinks interval. That way, you have the same number of stoppages, though of different lengths. (Not sure if switching back should be allowed.) You lose some of the drama, but gain in ease of operation.

    In either this plan or Roshan Fernando's, you could also allow the team winning the toss to pass the choice of bat or ball, if they would prefer the right to swap or to change players.

  • Zuhair on March 21, 2012, 10:11 GMT

    innings swap - anyone? NOONE

  • Manoj on March 21, 2012, 9:37 GMT

    Excellent idea, Michael. But the best idea is the one suggested by Arvind !!

  • Anonymous on March 21, 2012, 7:49 GMT

    Better to simply have two 25 over innings.

  • Alan on March 21, 2012, 5:57 GMT

    Let the away team always win the toss, to help balance unfamiliar conditions. This way if the host nation's TV deal includes lots of day/nighters under the lights the hosts could find it harder to chase in artificial for TV light.

  • Shyam on March 21, 2012, 5:38 GMT

    Michael - the idea is ok but it needs to be done so that (in theory at least) the balance of power evens out between Team A and B. Having the ability to let the team losing the toss decide when they can stop the other team bat or bowl seems to be a bigger incentive to lose the toss! But I dont think that the ICC will approve it - and even if they do captains will find the most boring way to implement it (like the power plays - cant someone just call the batting power play after over 20 for once!)

    I think Roshan's idea is easier to implement and more practical. Just let the teams decide the final XIs after the toss, not before. I've been a big believer that this would reduce the massive advantage of winning a toss on a greentop for example. Just a thought, would India have played 4 quicks if they could have done this in Perth recently?

  • Thommo on March 21, 2012, 4:48 GMT

    Sounds like this Baldy guy is more accountant than cricketer.

  • Alex Braae on March 21, 2012, 4:02 GMT

    Love it, though it would work better in T20 where its already a bit of a circus.

  • Pavan Bayyapureddi on March 21, 2012, 1:26 GMT

    This is an idea many people have. Something like a two innings game even for the ODIs. But, think about the batsmen. Only few get the chance if we have two innings. But your idea says the team winning the toss which itself is based on luck, gets another chance of making a decision in-case they faltered in their first chance, I don't agree with that. That is injustice to the team losing the toss.

  • Jetson on March 21, 2012, 0:43 GMT

    Maybe throw in the option to swap an umpire, or have them change ends. If a captain yells out from the boundary "can we have a new umpire please!" he can be removed on the spot.

  • Ross on March 21, 2012, 0:20 GMT

    Fox - my radical idea for one day cricket is to introduce bonus and penalty runs for achieving mini targets throughout a game. Hang with me here! One example would be to give a batting team a bonus run if they score 6 runs in a over. Conversely, they would be penalised a run if they don't score 6 in the over. This means every over has an outcome to get a little excited about.

  • greatkingrat on March 21, 2012, 0:05 GMT

    The toss is not that big an advantage.

    In ODIs, 50.7% of matches were won by the side who won the toss (ignoring ties/no result). Pretty insignificant really.

  • Arvind on March 20, 2012, 16:25 GMT

    Since the brainless ICC is never going to accept these ideas, might as well suggest some good ones. 1. Get rid of IPL. 2. Get rid of Srinivasan and Sharad Pawar. Everything else will fall in place naturally.

  • Muthu Ramadoss on March 20, 2012, 16:11 GMT

    Innings swap will work for Test Cricket. First innings can run continually only for 120 overs and the opponents then get their chance for their first innings and can bat continually for 120 overs. After 120 over each, the test resumes as like now.

    The only change is to limit the first innings to a certain period of time (120 overs). This change will let both sides play their first innings on more or less equal conditions and make it more sporting.

    Winning the toss in the above scenario will offer a minor edge, that is to bat or bowl the first day and nothing more.

  • sateesh on March 20, 2012, 15:34 GMT

    Woww you stole this idea from my mind

  • Roshan Fernando on March 20, 2012, 15:03 GMT

    Yup, that could be tried out. But how about giving it a different spin. First both teams must announce their playing eleven before the toss. Let's say Team A wins the toss - fine, let them decide whether to bat or field BUT they have to play with the eleven they named. NOW Team B is allowed to change 3 or even 4 players from their named eleven.

    That way even if Team B has to play under disadvantageous conditions, say a tricky 2nd innings where the spinning conditions are more acute, they can select, if they prefer, players who can play spin better. Or if its a fast bouncy wicket and they get to bat first, maybe they can pack the team with more batsmen.

    I think this can be applied to Test cricket even more effectively. I also think something has to be done to address the serious imbalance caused by the toss - something that is acutely felt in cricket only.

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  • Roshan Fernando on March 20, 2012, 15:03 GMT

    Yup, that could be tried out. But how about giving it a different spin. First both teams must announce their playing eleven before the toss. Let's say Team A wins the toss - fine, let them decide whether to bat or field BUT they have to play with the eleven they named. NOW Team B is allowed to change 3 or even 4 players from their named eleven.

    That way even if Team B has to play under disadvantageous conditions, say a tricky 2nd innings where the spinning conditions are more acute, they can select, if they prefer, players who can play spin better. Or if its a fast bouncy wicket and they get to bat first, maybe they can pack the team with more batsmen.

    I think this can be applied to Test cricket even more effectively. I also think something has to be done to address the serious imbalance caused by the toss - something that is acutely felt in cricket only.

  • sateesh on March 20, 2012, 15:34 GMT

    Woww you stole this idea from my mind

  • Muthu Ramadoss on March 20, 2012, 16:11 GMT

    Innings swap will work for Test Cricket. First innings can run continually only for 120 overs and the opponents then get their chance for their first innings and can bat continually for 120 overs. After 120 over each, the test resumes as like now.

    The only change is to limit the first innings to a certain period of time (120 overs). This change will let both sides play their first innings on more or less equal conditions and make it more sporting.

    Winning the toss in the above scenario will offer a minor edge, that is to bat or bowl the first day and nothing more.

  • Arvind on March 20, 2012, 16:25 GMT

    Since the brainless ICC is never going to accept these ideas, might as well suggest some good ones. 1. Get rid of IPL. 2. Get rid of Srinivasan and Sharad Pawar. Everything else will fall in place naturally.

  • greatkingrat on March 21, 2012, 0:05 GMT

    The toss is not that big an advantage.

    In ODIs, 50.7% of matches were won by the side who won the toss (ignoring ties/no result). Pretty insignificant really.

  • Ross on March 21, 2012, 0:20 GMT

    Fox - my radical idea for one day cricket is to introduce bonus and penalty runs for achieving mini targets throughout a game. Hang with me here! One example would be to give a batting team a bonus run if they score 6 runs in a over. Conversely, they would be penalised a run if they don't score 6 in the over. This means every over has an outcome to get a little excited about.

  • Jetson on March 21, 2012, 0:43 GMT

    Maybe throw in the option to swap an umpire, or have them change ends. If a captain yells out from the boundary "can we have a new umpire please!" he can be removed on the spot.

  • Pavan Bayyapureddi on March 21, 2012, 1:26 GMT

    This is an idea many people have. Something like a two innings game even for the ODIs. But, think about the batsmen. Only few get the chance if we have two innings. But your idea says the team winning the toss which itself is based on luck, gets another chance of making a decision in-case they faltered in their first chance, I don't agree with that. That is injustice to the team losing the toss.

  • Alex Braae on March 21, 2012, 4:02 GMT

    Love it, though it would work better in T20 where its already a bit of a circus.

  • Thommo on March 21, 2012, 4:48 GMT

    Sounds like this Baldy guy is more accountant than cricketer.