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The bizarre use of Duckworth/Lewis
by Renin Wilben
Nov 24, 2008
While all the debate during the rain-affected Bangalore ODI revolved around the unfair division of the powerplays between India and England, knowingly or unknowingly another dangerous precedent was being set. Digest this if you can. India scored 166/4 in 22 overs. England replied with 178 in the same number of overs and yet ended up on the losing side. How? Well thanks to the Duckworth/Lewis method in place for rain-ruined games.

Come to think of it, the use of this method and especially the manner in which it was employed during the Sunday encounter and a few games before that, actually destroys the whole purpose of playing cricket. Traditionally, cricket is a game in which a team has to score more than the opposition to win. That is exactly what England did and yet ended up on the losing side.

With due credit to the inventors, the Duckworth/Lewis rule is far superior to the previous rain rules in place. What is needed though is to put the method to use efficiently. The question once again arises - How? Logically speaking, the D/L should come into effect only in case there is an interruption when the innings of the team batting second is in progress. It is only then that the revised target based on the number of wickets lost by the team batting first makes sense.

What transpired at Bangalore did not really have much wisdom because technically England were the winners. Look at it this way. India and England were playing a 20-20 game and India scored 166 in their allotted overs. Wouldn't England have to score 167 to win?

One wonders what the players and officials think about the rule in place. For sure England must have had it at the back of their minds that their chasing 198 when India made just 166 was unfair. Or for that matter the other teams who have been in this position.

Of course none of the players can speak about it openly but someone has to get into the ICC's ears and let them know about this incongruity else cricket would definitely struggle in the longer run. The Duckworth/Lewis method is definitely here to stay. All it needs is modifications if it has to be fair to both the teams.

Apart from the above-mentioned subject of discussion, the newly introduced powerplay situation is another aspect of one-day that needs to be looked at. India missed their batting powerplay at Bangalore due to the rain interruption while England got it since they were batting second. What's more, even if India had got the powerplay overs, it would have been a reduced affair due to the shortened game.

In the end, they had no choice since England had already opted for the second powerplay and there were not enough overs left for the third powerplay. The Englishmen, on the other hand, got the opportunity to pick their powerplay, which once again did not fall in the category of fair play.

These embarrassing loopholes should also make the ICC realize that next time they have a new rule in place, they thoroughly study all the pros and cons before finalizing it. Experimenting with it mid-way after it is introduced will not be a very smart idea. As it is, captains around the world are still struggling to sort out some of the recently laid rules in place. And so constant modification can only cause further confusion.

Following what happened at Bangalore with the powerplay situation, whatever ICC does from hereon will be put under the microscope. Hence it is essential that, being the governing body of the game, the council takes measured steps to improve the game further.

More Views by Renin Wilben
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