Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 3rd ODI, Dambulla November 15, 2013

Mathews fears for bowlers under new ODI rules


Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews has added his voice to the growing din of international players and captains who have questioned the new ODI rules. Last month, MS Dhoni suggested the current playing conditions reduced bowlers to little more than bowling machines, with team-mate Suresh Raina also expressing a similar sentiment.

Last year, then-Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene had been critical of the rule restricting the number of outfield fielders to four during the non Powerplay overs, as well as the rule that requires teams use a new ball from either end. He reasoned that spinners would end up having to bowl defensively, or risk becoming extinct in 50-over cricket, and that reverse-swing had also largely left the one-day game.

Unlike in India, where totals have grown considerably in the year since the new rules were instituted, team scores in Sri Lanka have been roughly moderate, but Mathews lamented the difficulties for bowlers ahead of the third ODI against New Zealand in Dambulla.

"The bowlers might retire very soon, the way the rules are going," Mathews said. "With the fielders inside the circle, it's very hard for the bowlers. I feel for them. With these rules, with the two new balls, it's very hard for the spinners. You have to be a very good spinner to get away from the batsman. You can't go in with half-bowlers."

"Now as a bowler, you've got to think a step ahead of the batsman. You have to anticipate what he's going to do, but you can't also pre-plan - you have to wait till the last moment for the batsman to do something and then react. You might go up to the mark and think you're going to bowl a yorker, but you might have to change that in the end. Even in the delivery stride, you might have to adjust. So you have to bowl according to the batsman. "

Mathews also suggested his team would make two changes to the XI as they seek to level the three-match series. Sri Lanka have lately followed a policy of providing young batsmen ample opportunity before discarding them, but opener Dimuth Karunaratne is unlikely to benefit from that largesse in ODIs after a first-ball duck and a four, in the two matches so far.

Sri Lanka have searched all year for the opening batsman who might partner Tillakaratne Dilshan in the 2015 World Cup, but despite two young candidates having impressed in patches - Karunaratne and Kusal Perera - neither batsman could sustain their success. Jayawardene has often moved up the order when the second opener has failed, and though he thrives atop the order, he has had to move back down to No. 4 to bridge gaps in the middle order.

"We've been trying to get an opener for a while now. We've opened with Mahela and Dilshan, we've opened with Kusal Perera and Upul Tharanga as well. It hasn't worked for us, so the selectors thought they'd try out Dimuth Karunaratne as well, because he's scored a lot of runs in the A team. Unfortunately he failed in the first two matches, so it might be a different combination tomorrow."

Kusal is in the squad for the series but Mathews refused to reveal which opening combination Sri Lanka might employ. Aside from Karunaratne, Perera and Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne is also capable of opening, having performed the role for his domestic teams as well as for Sri Lanka in Tests, the latter albeit unsuccessfully.

The second likely change for the match is allrounder Thisara Perera's inclusion, after he had been left out for the first two matches. After having been an ODI regular for over a year, Perera had a somewhat unsteady few months with selection. He had been left out from Sri Lanka's ODI tri-series squad to the West Indies, but played well at home against South Africa in the series that followed.

"Thisara is a match-winner and we need to find a way to bring him back to the team. In the South Africa series we rotated the seniors, but we will play our best available team tomorrow. Whether Thisara will come in in place of another bowler or another batsman - we're not yet sure. We'll have to take a call on our exact combination after having another look at the pitch."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dexter on November 16, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    This game seriously needs new blood if it is to continue to thrive on the international circuit of name brand sport, it should become law that every cricket nation employ a team of aggressive marketing specialists with emphasis on "AGGRESSIVE", people that are solely committed to just finding ways to fill cricket stadiums and raise the awareness and passion in the hearts of sport loving people. The sport has too much of a lowly image and too many people view the game as just boring and that image needs to be emancipated from people. What can be done to bring people to the grounds everyday with anticipation and excitement to see the present and upcoming stars, kids, parents, whole families, all at the grounds on game day enjoying watching their greatest players in action, there must be a way, there has to become an all out emphasis on the topic of making cricket loveable and I do believe that it can be done if there is a greater emphasis placed in this area.

  • dexter on November 16, 2013, 7:09 GMT

    This game of cricket can seem so pointless and doomed at times, and being a lover of the sport u cant help but be concerned for it and wonder how much brain if any is there that goes into the planning and administrative part of the sport. Here again 2 of the best and most exciting teams in world cricket one playing on home soil at a venue that looks like it has about 4000 seats and cant even muster up 500 patrons at the game on a Saturday a weekend day, a day when people are home after a busy work week and supposedly looking for something fun to do. Unfortunately if you're looking for fun cricket is not the best choice or so it seems judging by the amount of people at the venue for this match being played today. Is there any hope at all for this sport or will professional players just continue to abide by the norm of empty seats and the occasional sounds of birds whistling in the nearby trees and the odd plane that may hover over the ground from time to time. Take your pick.

  • Manesh on November 16, 2013, 4:13 GMT

    ha ha ha one more captain...when Dhoni said it everyone talked about flat pitch and in ability of Indian bowlers, now they are hiding when their own captain replied like that. That will give the real picture of some runners.

  • Rohit on November 16, 2013, 3:55 GMT

    If the rules are not going to be reversed then why not make a rule to allow a team to choose two balls from a set of balls they wish to for certain playing conditions.

  • Muthuvel on November 15, 2013, 21:45 GMT

    why would a game dumb down so much ? what about reverse swing? what about spin..why diminish the centuries..more batsmen are going to score 200 250 in ODI's now.. Now since spinners are useless then sc teams will fare poorer.

  • Sammy on November 15, 2013, 21:38 GMT

    How things change in a week!? Until last week, it was the flat pitches in India that were to blame for huge scores by Indian batsmen. This week after SL bowlers get the expected pasting, suddenly, it's the new ODI rules. Matthews should be concerned about his own place than worry about bowlers around the world. He has a knack of coming up with creative excuses.

  • Dummy4 on November 15, 2013, 19:54 GMT

    Agree with all. But one change which could really assist the game is for the side batting first to bat for 30 overs, followed by the opponents 50, then the final 20. More scope for tactics, and probably better able to cope with weather disruptions.

  • Dummy4 on November 15, 2013, 18:59 GMT

    Well at least now someone has come out with it. Come on ICC, India ( MSD) want's it, call the board.

  • Lester on November 15, 2013, 17:54 GMT

    Totally agree with Angelo and MSD, 2 new balls, field restrictions and short boundaries turns the ODI into a longer T20. When a batman can charge down the wicket to everything bowled at him, get a thick edge and clear the boundary. Even if the ball doesn't even get to the rope the chances of getting caught are slim.

    We want spin and reverse swing back in this format - not just an extended T20 slog fest.

  • mahendra on November 15, 2013, 16:48 GMT

    I would like to know which countries suggested these new rules ,i dought if it was the ones in the sub continent who depend on their spinning options .

  • No featured comments at the moment.