One day at a time
With the Ashes safely returned and a Twenty20 obligation taken care off, it’s time for a healthy dose of cricketing dessert. Today is the first of five one day internationals between England and Australia and Rob Bagchi will be here from 13:00 to talk you through every ball.
In the meantime, here’s Scyld Berry on new white ball rules, and how England hope to build on stunning progress in this form of the game:
England’s white-ball cricket has been poor by global standards for the past quarter of a century, and they have lost nine of their past 10 one-day internationals against Australia, who are the World Cup holders and No1 in the ODI rankings. However, England’s young bucks and buccaneers are so promising that they can win the one-day series against Australia, which starts on Thursday afternoon in Southampton.
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“We’re at a completely different phase in our development with our team and our squad compared to Australia,” Eoin Morgan, the captain, said, “so it’s certainly going to be a good test.” But he was, for once, being defensive: England beat New Zealand 3-2 in June and are improving rapidly, while Australia are short of batting in the absence of Aaron Finch and James Faulkner.
Batting first on a belter, in daylight, will be a considerable advantage for the side winning the toss: England have lost their past three ODIs when chasing at the Ageas Bowl. But in the course of this five-match series – two of which are at Old Trafford – England can follow up their Ashes triumph by winning the one-day series, rather than losing anti-climactically, as they did in 2013 and 2009.
If it is the dawn of a new era for England’s 50-over team, it is also for the ODI format. So many runs were scored in the last 10 overs of one-day internationals in the World Cup – except by England, of course – that the International Cricket Council has changed the rules to give bowlers a chance, and today’s game at the Ageas Bowl will be England’s first under the new regulations.
They have also been simplified. One reason why one-day international games have never really taken off in England is because the regulations were so complicated: a maze of batting powerplays, or bowling powerplays, while at one stage countries were allowed to have 12 players, although that was an error, when the ICC released a statement which had not been approved by the executive board. Henceforth, ODIs will be comprehensible.
In the opening 10 overs only two fielders will be allowed outside the semi-circles, as before, but it will not be compulsory to have two fielders in catching positions. It is highly desirable that Eoin Morgan should place several slips to try to dismiss Steve Smith early on, but the degree of attack will be left to the fielding captain.
Between overs 10 and 40, four fielders will be allowed outside the semi-circles – simple. No more agonising about whether to take the batting powerplay before 35 overs – the cue for the field to be brought in and England’s batsmen to be promptly caught trying to hit over the top.