The second new rule to the one-dayers is regarding the bowling under fielding restrictions. After my first post on the super-sub rule, this is my analysis of how it would affect the game..
What is the current situation?
Fielding restrictions are in place for the first 15 overs. Only two fielders are allowed outside the circle. Usually a high-scoring opportunity for the batsmen. Bowlers who err even to a small extent in line and length get punished severely. For the rest of 35 overs, the field is spread out. So, until the slog overs, usually batsmen look for consolidating and take lots of singles and twos.
What does the new rule do?
Fielding restrictions would be in place for the first 10 overs. After that, the fielding captain has to enforce it in two batches of 5-overs each.. which means that there are maximum 20 overs per innings with the fielding restrictions on. More headache for captain, since he has to take into account various factors before deciding to bring the field in. The average one-day score would go slightly up, since there are 5 more overs for batsmen to swing their bats freely.
What are the finer points?
The new ball is easier to hit.. so, after the 10 overs, when the ball is still relatively new, the field spreading out would discourage the batsman to hit freely. When the ball gets older, and when spinners operate, the chances for a mishit or stumping are higher.. the ball doesn’t come on to the bat that easily, so only the batsmen with good hand-eye coordination can hit the old ball to the boundary. This means more demand for a better technique. On the other hand, with wickets in hand, the batting team would be waiting for the field-restricted overs during the closing stages of the innings eagerly.. so, only the bowlers who can bowl wicket-to-wicket and intelligently can survive an onslaught.
What would be the strategy?
Unlike the super-sub rule, this involves a lot more strategy.. the captain has to be on his toes all the time.. A lot of factors are to be considered before deciding when to go for fielding restrictions:
a) Bowling strengths: Usually two best pacemen would bowl the first 10 overs. If atleast one of them can bowl another couple of overs, and if there is a good support bowler, then the captain would be tempted to finish off atleast 15 overs on the trot (Aus is a good example with four good bowlers who can bowl even in the first 20 overs). If the run-rate is under control and if the batsmen are struggling to score, then all the first 20 overs can be field-restricted. If the scoring rate is high and/or more than 1 or 2 wickets hadn’t fallen, then spread the field out and wait for the dangerous batsman to fall and a new guy to come in.
b) Pitch/weather conditions:
If the pitch is assisting the fast bowlers, keep the fielding restriction ON and bowl in a test-match-like scenario to take as much wickets as possible and keep the run-rate as low as possible by tight bowling. If it assists spinners, bring the fielders in and and let the spinners have a go at the batsmen with a slip, silly point and/or forward short-leg..
Experience from the first match:
Both the captains took the safest route.. of finishing off both the powerplays within the first 20 overs itself.. while it made sense for England, considering that (i) the openers were scoring at a slow pace and (ii) Gilly departed in the 16th over and Hayden in the 17th, it cant be said so for Australia. With a mediocre 220 to defend and with both the England openers going strong, he could have spread the field after 15 overs… worth noting that during the second powerplay period, the English batsmen started swinging their bats.. so controlling the runrate could have been a better idea.