New ODI rules will lead to a decline in the number of bowlers, says Arjuna Ranatunga

Image courtesy of: The Hindu

“Young boys, when they are eight or ten, will not pick up the ball, they will pick up the bat”

Former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga has announced that the new ODI rules will lead to a decline in the number of bowlers since they are at a massive disadvantage compared to the batsmen.

“A lot of people say it (new rules) is good for the game, but as far as I am concerned, it is not,” Ranatunga said. “Young boys, when they are eight or ten, will not pick up the ball, they will pick up the bat.

“Lots of people think cricket is a batsman’s game, but I feel it should be 60:40 if not 50:50 (in favour of batsmen) because otherwise the bowlers would be getting killed. Some of the greats are getting thrashed in this T20 thing. I don’t know whether they (youngsters) can look up to people. Now it looks like 90:10 and sometimes it looks like 95:5 (in favour of batsmen).”

He also stated that “bowlers will not survive” if the new rules continue to be enforced.

“The bowlers will not survive,” he said. “The way they play, the junior cricketers will stop bowling and they will try to bat. Asia will face a huge problem in the future.”

Ranatunga added that the bowling standards across the world, except in Pakistan and South Africa, have seriously declined over the years.

“Apart from Pakistan and South Africa, general bowling standards have gone down very badly,” he said. “If you take South Africa, in our days their bowling was much better than the present bowling. Generally I feel the bowling apart from one or two countries has gone down very badly. Even the wickets have been flat in most of the places. They cater for batsmen.”

Speaking about the new two-ball rule, Ranatunga said: “When we started, we played with two balls but ultimately we as captains in a captains meeting could convince the ICC that two balls is not good for one-day cricket. And they changed.

“I feel depending on the places, sometimes when you play in sub-continent, the ball can be damaged within no time. It is the other way round when you go to Australia and South Africa and play on seaming tracks, the benefit will be for the fast bowlers.”

Legendary Sri Lanka opening batsman Sanath Jayasuriya was also sceptical of the two-ball rule.

“The two new balls, I am not very happy,” Jayasuriya said. “I think that is a big question mark for me. As personal opinion, I always think I would love to go with one ball.

“With the change of rules and also the (field) restrictions have been changed. Quite a few different rules have come into ODI cricket. It is sometimes more in batsmen’s favour. Most of the times now I think the batsmen can get 200.”

However, former Sri Lanka left-arm pace bowler Chaminda Vaas defended the new rules, stating that bowlers will get accustomed to them in almost no time at all.

“It is good for the fast bowlers that you have two new balls and can use it and pick wickets as well,” Vaas said. “But one-day is a different ball game now with the advent of T20. Most of the bowlers have learnt so many variations and they have learnt a lot of things and are doing really well.

“The way they bowl in power plays is unbelievable. I have seen some of the bowlers have given 20-25 runs but they have learnt and come up with ideas.”

But, Vass noted that bowlers will not be able to get any reverse swing.

“It won’t reverse at the last 6-7 overs but still bowlers have a chance,” he said.

When asked if the sport was becoming more batsman-friendly, Vaas said: “The wickets are suited for the batsmen. Most of the people come to see the game not for the person taking five wickets but the batsmen scoring runs. The bowlers will come up with a plan.”

Meanwhile, despite all the controversy, Ranatunga believes that the Decision Review System (DRS) is “the best thing that happened to cricket in last 20-30 years”.

“I am a great believer that DRS should stay,” he said. “It should be more advanced than trying to get rid of it. Sometimes people will say it is not 100 per cent accurate, but at least it is some percentage accurate. If I get a bad decision, at least I have a chance to correct it. That is the best thing that happened to cricket in last 20-30 years.”

Ranatunga also stated that the International Cricket Council (ICC) need to take more control of how the game is run as he feels that the most powerful cricket boards are calling all the shots at the moment.

“ICC should control the entire cricket in the world and they should not allow some of the countries to control,” he said. “It has been happening for the last so many years. ICC, I always say, are the toothless tigers. They will get onto one small guy and they will punish him but when it comes to the big boys, they tend to take two steps back.

“Sometimes I feel whether ICC is there to protect cricket or ICC is there to support some countries. It is beyond control.”

Ranatunga also applauded Australia captain Michael Clarke’s decision to defend debutant George Bailey in the first Ashes Test in Brisbane after England pace bowler James Anderson allegedly threatened to punch him in the face.

The World Cup winning captain also recalled how he used to stand up for his players.

“I always tend to protect my players,” he said. “I didn’t see the incident. It’s about how you handle things, what the issue is. I don’t know about this incident but I have seen in my own personal experience, some of the match referees have taken some awful decisions on players. I can’t comment on this particular (incident). Whether it is a first Test or 100th Test, when you are a leader you should know how to control a player.

“As a leader your job is to protect. Sometimes when you go beyond control, you need to understand and know how to control that person. But if something goes on like Muttiah Muralitharan, even a lot of people asked me if I did the right thing. I always say that my theory was to protect one of the greatest cricketers, which I did. It may not be the best thing for the game, overall you need to take some actions. You all know what happens in Australia, England and South Africa.”

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