For the last two hundred and fifty odd years cricket has been played between two teams of eleven players, pretty standard stuff. Last year the MTN40 introduced the concept of 12 ‘roving’ players, where the 12th man could essentially be a full replacement. This was an innovative idea, and sound in principle. I agreed that if a bowler should get injured the 12th man should be allowed to bowl.
This year MTN40 has expanded the use of the ‘roving’ player to 13, so the captain can now substitute two players at anytime. There goes two hundred years tradition out the window, this creates an environment for players to play specialist roll. You’ll see teams fielding a strong bowling team, and then substituting two players for batsmen when they bat.
This environment of specialist roles creates an imbalance in the traditional cricket team, in the past a coach needed to pick a mixture of bowlers and batsmen depending on the conditions and strengths of the opposition. This is where the quality all-rounds came to the fore, players like Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, Brian McMillian and Lance Klusener who could as easily destroy a team with the ball as they could with the bat.
The MTN40 is undermining the value of all-rounders, a team will bowl first and field their top five or six bowlers, at the change of the innings the captain will drop two of the bowlers and include two batsmen. This will keep the all-rounder out of the bowling attack as there are 5 specialist bowlers, and it will knock the all-rounder down the batting order as there are an additional two batsmen in the side.
As regular readers will know I’m a cricket purest, I love the history of the game and believe changes to the structure of cricket need to be carefully considered. This approach to experimental change irks me. Our domestic leagues are the breading ground for our national side, can we really afford to play international cricket without quality all-rounders, Kallis doesn’t have long to go, and we still haven’t found a replacement for Shaun Pollock. (No, Albie Morkel doesn’t count).
Do you think the MTN40’s ‘roving’ player policy will kill the all-rounder? Or have I got the wrong end of the stick?
Article by Shaun Custers