The Recycling Batsmen Debate
A rule permitting retired batsmen to return to the crease at Australian Championships with overs in hand until a team has lost all 10 wickets is back on the Agenda at City Hall. VCA identities Gil Chapman, Ian Petherick and David Head are behind the “push” to bring back the rule that was dumped in 2016 because of the bad blood it caused.
With the issue close to the heart of cricket traditionalists, Victoria surveyed captains – past and present – at Over 70s Australian Championships on the issue. They were asked to comment on the reasons promoted in support of recycling batsmen.
- The possibility of a team having their innings compulsorily closed short of their allocated overs and not losing 10 wickets is “unfair”.
Most respondents did not agree with the premise. Over 80% felt the primary aim of one day cricket was to make more runs than the opposition in the same prescribed number of overs. Taking 10 wickets in an innings was a minor consideration.
2. A rule not allowing a retired batsman to return to the crease was “unfair” with minimal evidence of any distortion of match results.
Respondents disagreed. There was clear evidence that the recycling of batsmen had determined the result of some games. An analysis of Division 1 results since 2015 suggested 2 games may have been lost when an innings was compulsorily closed when a retired batsman was unable to return to the crease. Outweighing this were reports of batsmen throwing their wicket away to allow retirees to return to the crease (turning certain defeat into victory).
- National Championships (Division 1) should be treated as an elite competition. A compulsory retiring figure for batsmen is not the way to prepare players for international competition.
Respondents felt the role of Championships (Division 1) was much greater than to prepare players for international representation. That view was seen as elitist and at odds with the much valued “participation” culture of Championships.
- The imposition of penalties by umpires will minimise any problem of teams trying to contrive results.
Respondents pointed to the obvious dilemma presented to umpires. Is it reasonable or realistic to ask an umpire to read what is in the mind of a player in adjudicating on “fair play”.
What should an umpire do if a lower order batsmen sacrifices their wicket. How should umpires penalise bowlers and fielders for not trying to take a wicket?
Victoria believes the game of cricket is diminished by contriving the result. The Rule should it be re-introduced, is not in the “spirit of cricket”.
Victoria does not support changing the rule to allow a retiring batsmen to return to the crease and continue batting until the close of innings
Should a majority of the VCA Over 70s age group support a rule change to allow a batsmen to return to the crease, Victoria proposes to limit the number of runs a returning batsman may score to 50.
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