Jonty Rhodes: 'Bringing on a good fielder [as a substitute] can make a world of difference' © Getty Images
The new one-day regulations introduced by the International Cricket Council have received a mixed response from former and current players, with some feeling it will make the game less predictable, and some saying it is simply "not cricket". The new innovations, involving changes in the overs that fielding restrictions will apply as well as the introduction of a substitute at any stage of a match, will be tried out for ten months, from July 30, before being reviewed by the ICC's cricket committee.
Jonty Rhodes, the former South African batsman, emphasised the difference that a substitute can make in the fielding department. Rhodes, remembered mostly for his electric reflexes in the field, told The Indian Express: "I think that fielding is a key to ODIs, and so bringing on a good fielder can make a world of difference. I think it might also give a few younger players, who are good fielders but not yet ready as batsmen, a taste of ODI cricket. This is now a changing phase in most of the countries. The ICC have seen that the public are prepared to come down to watch matches that are exciting throughout their duration."
Sachin Tendulkar, currently recovering from an elbow injury, felt that the teams would have a lot of planning to do. "I don't know how different it will be," he said, "but the captains and teams will have to sit down and chalk out plans to introduce an element of surprise. We [the teams] will have to play a couple of games before gauging the exact impact of the changes."
Dean Jones, the former Australian batsman, pointed out that the new rules wouldn't affect the outcome too much. "The bottom line is, even with all the changes, the best teams will still win. The game has changed over the years, but the best team has kept winning. They should neutralise the effect of the toss or the pitch on the results of the matches. On a green pitch, put into bat, a side, at 40 for 4, might bring in an extra batsman, and score 230 instead of 180. This will also help reduce the 100-run or 10-wicket defeats. This might also give a new life to ageing players such as VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble."
However, Ajit Wadekar, India's first one-day captain, wasn't pleased with the changes. "It's an unfortunate development as cricket must remain cricket, not become like soccer ... I foresee utter confusion when the experiments get underway," Wadekar told The Calcutta Telegraph. "Moreover, the captains are going to be under more pressure. The ordinary players, too. I've never regarded the one-day game as being proper cricket. Still, I don't agree it had become predictable and, so, changes were needed. Yes, the performance of some teams did become predictable, but nothing more."
Supporting Wadekar's views, Asif Iqbal, the former Pakistan captain, said, "Twelve players is no proper cricket match. The game should be played properly, and we should have complete players, not parts of them." However, Iqbal supported the changes in fielding restrictions, where the fielding captain will get a choice of using two blocks of five overs each after the 10-over mark. "It's a good idea to change the overs restriction because the game had become predictable. Earlier, only opening bowlers used to get the stick, and only batsman got the advantage of restrictions. Now, this will be spread over."
Virender Sehwag thought that the changes would benefit both the batsmen and the bowlers. "It sounds a bit complex but I am sure that the players will get used to it," Sehwag told The Times of India. "On the face of it, the field restriction rule - increased from 15 to 20 overs - appears to be in the favour of the batsmen. But I feel it will help both the bowlers and the batsmen in some form or the other." Speaking about the substitution rule, Sehwag said, "It will definitely be plan-oriented. Captains will have to induct more game plan in order to make this rule a success. The captain will have to think about 12 players instead of 11."