Substitutes in Cricket

This was mentioned a month ago, but I never thought it would be agreed so quickly. It’s ridiculous, dumbs down Cricket and is merely pandering to the TV companies to make cricket “appear” more entertaining.

From the ICC:

The CEC also approved the introduction of soccer-style replacements which will permit sides to replace a player at any stage of a match. The replaced player will be ruled out of the rest of the match while the replacement will be entitled to assume any remaining batting or bowling duties. Both players will receive a cap.

So, let’s see. England win the toss and bat. It’s likely to swing a bit under lights, with dew in the air, so they reckon on getting a big total first up – so they bear that in mind. They initially choose 4 bowlers, plus their all-rounder – but stumble to 180 all out. They then realise they could do with some extra pace so, when they field, they drop their weakest fielder with Darren Gough who, whilst not a “strong” fielder, can bowl some pace. Is this roughly the idea? If so, then it’s crazy.

As Jonathan Agnew remarks “I really do not believe that we want to see a situation in which you have an Americanisation of international cricket with a ‘bowling team’ and a ‘batting team’.” And this is exactly what could happen. Part of Cricket’s appeal, or rather skill for the captains, is selection issues before a game. Do we go with the extra bowler this time? Do we stick with 5 batsmen? Our all-rounder has emptied the local Thresher’s and is singing “Is this the way to Amarillo?” from the balcony – who should we call in instead? All of this is, and should be, decided before the game starts.

I also disagree that any player who is substituted, or acts as a sub, should receive a cap. This happens in Rugby and, I’m sure, Football – players come on for 10 minutes and are awarded a cap for only performing for a much smaller percentage of the game than their team-mates.

No, sorry – don’t like it. It might – might – make it slightly more interesting as to who or when a player should be substituted for/with – but the public are being treated like cretins here. We’re quite happy with it as it is, thanks very much. We pay to watch 22 players play cricket (22, not 24) – to bat, bowl, field and sledge. We like yorkers, stumps flying, boundaries and beamers. We like Cricket because it’s not Football – the game doesn’t need any more fancy frills than it already has. 20/20 has proved a great success because, I think, the format (and change) is simple: shorten it. But adding this new dimension is change for change’s sake, and is pandering to TV giants’ thirsty wallets and short attention spans.

They’ll be playing in pajamas next, you know…