South Africa v Australia, 5th ODI, Johannesburg March 13, 2006

Barry Richards: 'The skill has been taken out of cricket'

Cricinfo staff



Herschelle Gibbs hits out on is way to a 111-ball 175 © Getty Images
Barry Richards, the former South Africa batsman, has said the balance between ball and bat, as seen in Sunday's remarkable one-dayer at Johannesburg, is a major concern for the game's administrators.

"There is such a propensity for hitting boundaries that bowlers have been taken out of game," Richards is quoted as saying by The Courier-Mail. "It will only be six months and we'll see 1000 runs scored in a one-day game. The skill has been taken out of cricket. As a cricket person, it is very boring because the bowlers have no chance. All the rule changes, the power plays and things, have just made things so much in favour of batsmen.

"The small grounds are like saying to Tiger Woods to play on a 4000m course; he might keep shooting 49 but what does it really mean?" he continued. "Cricket is the only game that has been made smaller in the past 100 years. It's all in the name of commercialism.

Bowlers are going to be like accessories in the game

Steve Waugh

"Why would you want to be a bowler? For a start the ball doesn't swing. Batsmen are just hitting the ball straight. The International Cricket Council needs to look at things because this is ruining cricket."

But Steve Waugh, the former Australia captain, offered a different view, arguing that big scores would attract spectators. "Teams are starting to stack their sides with batsmen now, and I can see that becoming more frequent and games just becoming 'batathons'," he explained. "The crowds would love it and television would as well. Bowlers are going to be like accessories in the game.

"Bats are bigger, boundary ropes have come in, and there is no doubt Twenty20 cricket has made players aware of how to play bigger shots. Years ago the bats we used had a sweet spot of a couple of inches. Now the sweet spot is the entire bat. Bats have a lot more wood in them, but they are just as easy to pick up."