Unlimited Super Overs, no runs for deflection off batsman among World Cup wishlist

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A deflection off Ben Stokes' bat gave England four extra runs in their World Cup final win over New Zealand.

Should one team lose an ODI despite scoring the same number of runs after 102 overs? How are boundaries a bigger differentiator than wickets? Should runs be allowed when no one is claiming it?

The 2019 World Cup final generated so much drama and bizarre incidents, it took the focus away from the high quality of cricket both England and New Zealand played and also threatened to put an asterisk next to England’s legitimate win.

However, what is done is done. Rules were followed – well, almost – and England did what was asked of them to win their maiden 50-over title. New Zealand must be crestfallen right now, but that is the nature of sport.

As is the case whenever we encounter such incredible turn of events – a 50-over World Cup final tied even after a Super Over and the winner decided on boundary count – it becomes important to take stock of the situation and ensure that a more acceptable set of rules are in place when the tournament next comes around in 2023.

While you can never please everyone, here are a few rule changes that should make for a more even playing field.

No additional runs for deflection off batsman

Ben Stokes apologised after the the ball off his bat to the boundary at Lord's.

Ben Stokes apologised after the the ball off his bat to the boundary at Lord’s.

Acceptability: Very high

This is one rule every team and player should be on board with. When the throw in the final over of England’s chase in ‘normal time’ deflected off a diving Ben Stokes’ bat and went to the boundary, there was nothing anyone could do. The umpires were forced to signal additional four runs as Stokes or England couldn’t refuse it.

Overthrows happen all the time but deflections off a batsman should not count for additional runs. No one claims those runs anyhow and it’s better to stop awarding them.

The only downside to that is – and this is taking things to the extreme – fielders deliberately targeting the body of a batsman while throwing in order to unsettle or hurt them.

Super Overs to continue until winner decided

Acceptability: High

This is the big one. Deciding a world champion on the basis of number of boundaries hit has stirred up a hornet’s nest. Some feel England and New Zealand should have been named joint winners. Others suggest number of wickets taken after a Super Over tie is a more apt differentiator.

We have to have a winner of a World Cup and any form of countback is unfair. It makes sense to keep playing additional Super Overs until a winner is decided. We are unlikely to get a Super Over tie in a World Cup final in our lifetime again. But if it does happen, we should spend the additional time to ensure there is a clear winner.

Super Six/Playoffs after league stage

Acceptability: Medium to low

As I have bemoaned twice before, the format of the 2019 World Cup – just like 1992 – was flawed to begin with; not that the last few ones were perfect. Playing the league phase for more than a month and having a highly inconsistent team – New Zealand in this case – go straight into the final after one win is wrong on many counts.

Hypothetically speaking, in the current format the semi-final loser can have a win/loss record of 9-1 and the title winner a 7-3 or 7-4 record. If knockouts matches have to be given greater importance, then it makes sense to reduce the league phase and have additional matches before the final.

Two groups of five teams each followed by a Super Six stage, semis and then final is one way to go. Or, we can retain the current everyone-plays-everyone league stage and then have an IPL style playoffs – which might not be acceptable to many purists. But it is still considerably more fair than the current format.

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Andrew Strauss urges England star Ben Stokes to stay grounded after 2019 World Cup high

Duncan Bech 16/07/2019
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Former England director of cricket Andrew Strauss.

Andrew Strauss insists Ben Stokes must learn to cope with the adulation of emerging as the hero of England’s World Cup final triumph after completing his tale of redemption at Lord’s.

Stokes struck an unbeaten 84 against New Zealand on Sunday to force a super over in which he and Jos Buttler scored 15 to help the hosts set up the most dramatic of victories.

The 28-year-old’s pivotal innings came less than a year after he was found not guilty of affray following a late-night brawl in Bristol, an incident that forced him to miss an Ashes series and placed his future in doubt.

At the time Strauss was director of England cricket at the England and Wales Cricket Board and was present when Stokes was released from his police cell before helping guide him through the aftermath.

Stokes

And the former England captain, who on Tuesday announced that Lord’s will be turning red for day two of the second Ashes Test on August 15 in aid of the Ruth Strauss Foundation, sensed early on that the all-rounder would go on to flourish.

“What will be hard for Ben going forward is the levels of adulation he’ll receive,” Strauss said.

“That was a burden for Freddie Flintoff – he often lived up to it and that was great, but increasingly you are under more and more pressure to be the man every time you play and that is a big burden.

“You know what, I just remember going down to the police station with Ben. I spent a long time with Clare, his wife, waiting for him to come out of the…jail.

“What struck me as soon as he came out was actually his character. Because he stood up and said, ‘I’ve got this horribly wrong. I apologise sincerely for what I’ve done here’.

“From that moment on, I thought this was going to be a good thing for him. But I also thought this was going to be very noisy and very hard for us to navigate.

“It was very hard to know which way it was going to go. People can go two ways after something like that happens to them.

“Anyone who knows Ben and who has played with him knows what an incredible person he is to have on your team.

“What we’ve seen is some of those rough edges just smoothed a little bit over the last 12 or 18 months without him losing that incredible desire and hunger to win.

“It’s an easy story to say what happened in the World Cup final is redemption for him, but I just think it was one of English cricket’s talents showing what he can do on the greatest stage.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Cricket World Cup 2019: ICC should consider sharing trophy, says New Zealand coach Gary Stead

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New Zealand coach Gary Stead believes sharing the World Cup in the event of a tie in the final should come under consideration after his side were denied the title in agonising fashion.

England matched the Kiwis’ 241 in a breathless conclusion at Lord’s and the sides could not then be separated after a super over, the tournament hosts only prevailing by virtue of registering more boundaries across the contest.

While Stead was as magnanimous in defeat as captain Kane Williamson had been on Sunday, he questioned whether a tournament that spanned 46 days should be decided by such narrow parameters.

And when asked whether the International Cricket Council should award both sides the crown in the event of a tie, Stead said: “I’m sure when they were writing the rules they never expected a World Cup final like that.

“I’m sure it’ll be reviewed. Perhaps when you play over a seven-week period and you can’t be separated on the final day then that is something that should be considered.

Kane Williamson

“But that’s one consideration over a whole lot of things that went on over the World Cup.

“It’s a very, very hollow feeling that you can play 100 overs and score the same amount of runs and still lose the game, but that’s the technicalities of sport.

“It’s unfortunate it comes down to one ball right at the end of the tournament when we’ve been here for seven weeks playing some really good cricket. It will be raw for a long time.”

New Zealand had some luck go against them, most notably when Martin Guptill’s throw at the stumps saw a diving Ben Stokes inadvertently deflect the ball away to the boundary via his bat.

Six runs were added to the total, but former international umpire Simon Taufel said on Monday morning that England should have been awarded only five because Stokes and Adil Rashid had not crossed when the throw was released.

A law in the MCC’s rulebook would seem to back up the ex-official’s view, but Stead commented: “I didn’t actually know that. The umpires are there to rule and they’re human as well and, like players, sometimes errors are made.

“It’s just the human aspect of sport and probably why we all care about it so much as well. We can’t change that now. It will go down in history as one that got away from us.”

Asked about the prevailing mood in the dressing room afterwards, Stead added: “There was a lot of dejection and almost bewilderment around ‘how did that happen?’ and ‘why has it happened this way?’

“Everyone will react to it over time, but I imagine most of our guys will hit the wall for about a week or so and feel pretty down about things. But they shouldn’t, we should be really proud of what they have achieved.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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