April 24, 2014

# Let's go decimal

Sridhar Kartic

 "I get only five balls to bowl? Suits me fine, thank you." © Getty Images Enlarge

Since the beginning of cricketing time, the over was always either 6 or 8 balls. There is no clear reason why even 300 years after the game was first played by adults, this one aspect has not turned metric.

We celebrate 100s and 50s, we acknowledge five-wicket hauls, and 10 wickets in a match. Even the latest evolution of the game is 20 overs-a-side. Maybe we should now play 5 ball overs.

Think of the advantages. A T20 innings will now be exactly 100 balls. Run-rate calculations will be a breeze. Runs per over will be a piece of cake and most people can do the math in their heads. Strike-rates per ball will be childishly simple to figure out.

Why has this not been adopted before now? Traditionally a base 12 was used to count items. A dozen eggs, a gross of something and so on. This, the duodecimal system, is completely outdated in all aspects of modern life with the only exception being the measurement of time. We still have 24 hours a day and 12 months in a year.

Cricket has seen a lot of changes over the past 100 years and, with the advent of Twenty20 the changes over the last decade have been exponential. The uniforms of players and umpires have gone from starchy whites to polyester blended colors. The ball has gone from cherry red to white. The stumps have changed from plain wood to the brand colors of the game's sponsors, and now have flashing LEDs embedded in them. It is time to ring in changes with the counting as well, and move to the decimal system.

As mentioned before, a T20 will be 100 balls, an ODI will be 50 overs of 5 balls each and each day of Test cricket will be 100 overs of 5 balls instead of 90 overs of 6. Records pre-dating the change can remain as they are - just as stats from the eight-ball-overs era have been assimilated. A bowler - probably the most exerted person on the field - will only bowl five before he can take a breather on the boundary ropes.

Even boundaries need to be changed. But that is another discussion. A pull to the ropes along the ground should be 5 runs and over the ropes, 10. Why they are 4 and 6 is a question to which I could find no satisfactory answer. Except,"It's traditionally done this way."

Traditions are not always a good thing.

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