The “wicket zone” will now be extended all the way to the top of the bails. Previously it stopped at the bottom of the bails
The ICC cricket committee has made changes to the way lbws will be adjudged under the Decision Review System, effectively increasing the area of the stumps a ball must be shown as hitting for a not out decision to be overturned. This “wicket zone” will now be extended all the way to the top of the bails, having previously gone only to the bottom of the bails, which is why deliveries just clipping the bails ended up staying with the umpire’s call on the field. By DRS protocol, If more than half the ball is predicted to hit this region, an on-field call of not-out is reversed.
Lbw decisions have been at the very centre of most debates around the DRS, whether it is on the efficacy of ball-tracking technologies or – as the focus is these days – around the umpire’s call element. Virat Kohli said during the recent ODI series with England that it caused a lot of confusion. But the ICC cricket committee, as reported earlier by ESPNcricinfo, has decided to retain umpire’s call.
“The principle underpinning DRS was to correct clear errors in the game whilst ensuring the role of the umpire as the decision maker on the field of play was preserved, bearing in mind the element of prediction involved with the technology,” Anil Kumble, former India captain and current head of the committee, said. “Umpire’s Call allows that to happen, which is why it is important it remains.”
This is the second time the ICC has adjusted its definition of the “wicket zone” for lbws. In 2016, they had increased the wicket zone by expanding its width, so that half the ball had to hit any part of the off- or leg-stumps, rather than having to hit at least half of each stump previously.
Another significant change will now allow teams to ask on-field officials if they think the batsman was playing a shot before they decide to review. And short-run calls, like no-ball calls, will now be the third umpire’s responsibility.
Covid-19 regulations to stay
In the age of a pandemic, the ICC had to make some leeway to ensure matches can be played while also keeping people safe.
As a result, they allowed for the use of home umpires – when previously all matches had to be adjudicated by neutrals. Coupled with that, all teams were given an additional DRS review per innings to account for the possibility of unconscious bias.
There were also provisions made for Covid-19 substitutes in case a player in the XI is found to be sick. And the use of saliva to shine the ball was outlawed.
These rules had originally been added as a temporary measure and the cricket committee has decided that they will continue to stay in play, as reported by ESPNcricinfo.
Expanding the use of substitutes
The ICC currently allows players to be substituted for two reasons: concussion and Covid-19. But having opened the doors for it, the cricket committee now appears to be in favour of expanding the remit.
Previously, any time a team ends up fielding more than 11 players, the game’s official status would be stripped and it would be considered just a friendly. That will no longer be the case now as the law makers try to assess a more general use of replacement players, starting at first-class level.
With inputs from Osman Samiuddin
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
Former India Women’s coach WV Raman alleges ‘smear campaign’ against him in email to Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid
He says it will be “extremely disconcerting” if his candidature was rejected due to reasons other than “my incompetency as a coach”
India Women’s outgoing head coach WV Raman has alleged that a “smear campaign” against him has gained unwarranted traction and he has urged the BCCI president Sourav Ganguly to stop it. In an email that Raman also sent to the National Cricket Academy head Rahul Dravid, he wrote it will be “extremely disconcerting” if his candidature was rejected due to reasons other than “my incompetency as a coach”.
Raman was not retained as the head coach of the senior women’s team by the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) which picked Ramesh Powar for the job.
“I presume you might have been told different views about my style of functioning and work ethic,” Raman wrote. “Whether those views conveyed to the officials of the BCCI had any impact on my candidature is of no consequence now.
“What is important is that the smear campaign seems to have gained some unwarranted traction with some BCCI officials which needs to be halted permanently. I am prepared to give an explanation should you or any of the office bearers require it.”
He said he was not used to “moaning and whining”, but was bringing up the issues in case the BCCI president wishes to do a course correction.
“If I were to be rejected due to my incompetency as a coach, there is no argument on a judgment call at all,” he wrote. “But what will be extremely disconcerting is if my candidature was rejected due to any other reasons. Especially if it was due to allegations from people who were more focused on achieving their personal objectives at the expense of the overall hygiene and welfare of the Indian women’s team and the pride of the country.”
While Raman’s letter did not name anyone, it is understood that he was writing about the star culture that prevails in the team, which he said is probably doing more harm than good.
“If some people in the system have been highly accommodative to the extent of being seemingly obsequious to an accomplished performer for years on end – and if that performer feels constrained to adhere to the culture – then I would leave it to you to decide if the coach was asking for too much.
“In a coaching career spanning 20 years, I have always created a culture in which the team always comes first and insisted on no individual overriding either the game or the team.”
He said “paying heed to only one individual’s views while disregarding everyone else’s over a long period of time has resulted in gaping holes in the process and the system”.
“The time has come for you two accomplished former legends to salvage women’s cricket, falling which things could gather momentum in the wrong direction. I have some suggestions that might help in the improvement of women’s cricket. I will be delighted to share those if you are interested.”
Cameron Bancroft – ‘Self-explanatory’ that bowlers were aware of ball-tampering tactics in Newlands Test
“All I wanted to do was to be responsible and accountable for my own actions and part”
Cameron Bancroft has conceded there had to be wider knowledge of Australia’s ball-tampering tactics against South Africa in the Newlands Test than the punished trio of himself, David Warner and Steven Smith.
Speaking to the Guardian interviewer Donald McRae in Durham where he is playing county cricket, Bancroft admitted under questioning that it was “self-explanatory” that bowlers in the Test team had to be aware the ball was being tampered with.
“Yeah, look, all I wanted to do was to be responsible and accountable for my own actions and part. Yeah, obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” Bancroft said. “I guess one thing I learnt through the journey and being responsible is that’s where the buck stops [with Bancroft himself]. Had I had better awareness I would have made a much better decision.”
When pressed further, he replied: “Uh… yeah, look, I think, yeah, I think it’s pretty probably self-explanatory.”
While levying extremely heavy penalties on Bancroft, Warner and Smith for their roles in the ball-tampering, Cricket Australia ring-fenced the matter away from the rest of the team, although head coach Darren Lehmann resigned a few days later after seeing the tearful press conferences of the players upon their early returns to Australia.
The lengthy bans placed on Bancroft (nine months), Warner and Smith (one year each, with Warner banned from holding any leadership positions for life) have left plenty of questions unanswered, even though CA has in the past called for anyone with further evidence about the affair to come forward. Former chief executive Kevin Roberts had this to say in March 2019 about that prospect, while defending the initial investigation conducted by the former CA head of integrity, Iain Roy, between the Cape Town and Johannesburg Tests.
“If they’ve got any concerns about ball-tampering or any concerns about any integrity issue in the game, we’ve invited them to report that through our anonymous integrity hotline or through other means that are available to them,” Roberts had said. “We haven’t had any such reports, so we won’t jump at shadows, but if anyone does report concerns about any integrity matter prior to ball-tampering or whatever it may be, we’re serious about addressing that, and we have a process to address it.
“We’re really serious about addressing any unresolved issues and we’re sincere in the way we’re going about that. So if there are any reports or allegations as opposed to innuendo, then we will investigate that thoroughly.
“Certainly the investigation needed to be conducted swiftly, we needed to fulfil our commitment to field a team against South Africa the following week, and we didn’t know whether we’d need to fly 11 new players in to fill that team or no new players. The ultimate answer was somewhere in between. So the investigation was absolutely fit for purpose, but we haven’t rested on those laurels. We’ve made repeated and extensive invitations to anyone to report any integrity matters or concerns about ball-tampering ever since.”
Though Smith and Warner have returned to the team, Bancroft is now a long way from international consideration, having played the first two Test of the 2019 Ashes series before being discarded and then struggling to recreate his best days in the Sheffield Shield in 2019-20. He performed better last summer but is not considered to be in the front rank of contenders for a place in the national side.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
England head coach Chris Silverwood to take time off during Sri Lanka, Pakistan ODI series
England head coach will hand over to assistants Thorpe and Collingwood during busy summer
Chris Silverwood will miss the ODI series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan as part of England’s rest-and-rotation policy.
Silverwood, the England coach, was one of few ever-presents on England’s tours of Sri Lanka and India and accepts he will find it hard to switch off. But he also acknowledged the need for fallow periods amid England’s relentlessly busy schedule and said that without such breaks, he “won’t be providing the level of service” players deserve.
England’s assistant coaches, Paul Collingwood and Graham Thorpe, will each take charge of an ODI series in his absence.
“It is important we keep our personnel as fresh as possible,” Silverwood said. “It’s not fair on the players if I am operating at less than 100 percent and it is not fair on myself either. I won’t be providing the level of service that I need.
“You saw during the winter what we tried to do that with our players to the best of our ability. It’s equally as important we do that with the staff. It’s important we look after each other.”
The fact that Silverwood will be available for all England’s Tests and T20Is might be interpreted, by some, as a reflection of the diminishing importance of ODI cricket. But it is more to do with where we are in the current international cycle, with two T20 World Cups scheduled within the next 18 months and the next 50-over World Cup not until 2023.
“I’m not going to deny it: it’s not easy for me to switch off,” Silverwood said. “I am wholly on-board with what we are doing. I am very embedded in it now. I do find it hard to switch off but I’ll do my best.
“I’ll be passing the reins on for the ODI series. Thorpey will do one and Colly will do the other and I’ll use it as my break to refresh and get ready for what is ahead of us.
“My missus has already booked us a little getaway up in Norfolk somewhere. I have got to do that otherwise I won’t switch off.”
Whatever Silverwood’s reservations about the break, he is confident in his deputies, acknowledging that both had “a lot more” experience of playing international cricket than him.
“I said right from the start I was going to step back at times and promote them forward to give them leadership opportunities,” Silverwood said. “This is a great opportunity for us to do that.
“I think it will be a great experience for them. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t trust them 100 percent. If you look at the wealth of experience that the two of them have, it’s a massive bonus for me to have them next to me wherever we go.
“They have had success all round the world. As players, they played a lot more international cricket than me so you surround yourself with the things that maybe you don’t have and build a team that way. They’re a huge asset to us.”
England are expected to name their Test squad for the series against New Zealand on Tuesday. Ashley Giles, the managing director of England men’s cricket, has previously suggested England will use the series as an opportunity to “look at some new faces”, with Ollie Robinson, Craig Overton and James Bracey among those expected to feature.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
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