Cricket has been under continuous evolution ever since the beginning. Here are a few incidences that took the world by surprise and influenced a significant change in rules:
Australia was all set to host the 1932-33 Ashes and Don Bradman by now was an extra-ordinary force in reckoning. Post a miserable defeat at home in 1930, the England (then, MCC) cricket team searched umpteen ways to tackle Bradman’s brilliance. A thorough research under Captain Douglas Jardine brought about the concept of “Bodyline attack” into fray. Bradman’s vulnerability to the short ball was made a prime target. An array of fielders behind square on the leg side was designed to materialize the possible air-borne half-chance. The helmet-less batsmen were made to fear for their life more than their wicket. The plan helmed success as English took back the Ashes 4-1. However bodyline hampered the Aussie game-plan and shocked the world manifold. MCC made amends to the rule book by restricting the number of fielders behind square on the leg side to 2 and The “Intimidatory short pitched deliveries” were also checked by stating the maximum number of bouncers allowed. The modern ICC rule against bouncers and beamers is derived from the same.
2) Sorry, you are Late!
A known incidence traces back to 97 years to a county championship game between Somerset and Sussex in 1919. With scores tied, Arthur Heygate was supposed to fill in the number 11 shoes. However, injured Heygate took quite a long to step onto the field. With mutual consent, umpires therefore decided to declare him OUT and marked him to be ‘Absent Hurt’. Later, the inclusion and amendments by MCC and the ICC have now staged a 3-minute cushion for players to be there on the ground after the fall of a wicket.
3) 10 boundary riders:
During a match against West Indies in 1979, English captain Mike Brearley known for sharp cricketing minds pulled out a master-class. Defending 3 of the last ball, he stationed everyone including the wicket-keeper back on the fence to stop the boundary. To no surprise, 10-boundary riding England signed the match off with a 1-run win. The ploy was well within the rules then and was caught amidst a juggle of praise and criticism. However, the incident lead to the introduction of field restrictions in cricket. After well thought off and discussed strategies, 30-yard circle was deduced and the number of players compulsory within the circle was fixed. The modern day power-play regulation also traces its origin to this famous incident.
4) Under-arm Bowling:
The underarm bowling incident in the Benson & Hedges series Cup of 1981 not only transformed the rule books but also revolutionised New Zealand cricket to a great extent. Needing 6 of the final ball, Captain Greg Chappell deduced a disappointing technique to ensure the win. Trevor Chappell bowled a grounding underarm delivery to Brian McKeanie who threw the bat away in frustration. Though the action was permitted then, it was widely considered against the spirit of the sport. World took notice and lead to major transformations. Today, after numerous alterations there are guidelines and limitations to the actions of a bowler with the ICC maintaining a strict watch over all international and domestic bowlers.
Though it was just a written statement in the rule books, this kind of run-out was never witnessed. Amidst the 1947 India tour of Australia, Indian stalwart Vinoo Mankad ran out Bill Brown after a brief preceding event of him warning Brown for stepping out of the backup crease even before the ball was bowled. Umpires were quick to display their decision and furious Brown was asked to depart. Mankad was flaked with criticism and the Aussie media even raised questions over his dedication towards the game. This infamous incidence is so far-stretched that even today, this kind of dismissal is referred as “Mankading”. ICC’s recent updation states that, “ Before the delivery stride is completed, the bowler is permitted an attempt to run-out the non-striker. Irrespective of the result, the ball goes down as a dead ball.”
6) Leg Before the Wicket (Lbw):
Leg Before the Wicket is one of the oldest and complicated forms of dismissal in cricket. Often surrounded by controversies, it was first introduced in the nineteenth century in the English county when batsmen started using their pads for guarding the ball. Untill then, only the umpires had the right to dismiss the batsman for “standing unfair to strike”. Shrewsbury was one of the devoted follower to obstructing the ball with the pad to get rid of the swinging deliveries. Later, elections were held over the inclusion of the rule and finally it was inducted into the MCC rule book in 1902. Batsman was given OUT when he tried to protect his wicket by not only the pads but any of his body part. The only condition then was the ball should be in line with the stumps. Fair to say, LBW has been one of the most transformed rules in Cricket. One of the bitter memories for Indian cricket fans would surely be Sachin Tendulkar’s Leg Before Wicket dismissal against Glenn McGrath during the 1999 Australian tour. Hit on the helmet ducking to a short delivery the umpire adjudged him LBW to everyone’s surprise. It’s still regarded as the most unusual wicket by many.
7) Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (D/L/S method)
Raingods have mercilessly played a spoil sport to the game of cricket resulting either in a washout or truncation. Since the induction of ODI cricket, the average run-rate method was put into practice for truncated affairs. In 1992, when “Most Productive Overs” rule was utilized, cricket witnessed one of the most unfortunate incidences. Needing 22 of 13 in a World Cup semi-final against England, heavens opened up for a short 12 min interval. What followed was one of the most unfortunate events in cricket history.
SA was given an impossible target of 21 from 1 ball after the MPO method. Post this event, MPO faced flak and amassed loads of criticism. The search for a new and efficient method went underway until 1999. Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis designed the D/L method for a better all-round justice. Post a few alterations and changes the current D/L/S method was finalized for all ICC matches. All said and done, the world still awaits more accurate calculation systems.