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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 June, 2005, 17:06 GMT 18:06 UK
Agnew on substitutes
Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Chris Tremlett
Tremlett could have been replaced by a batsman after his spell
As England confirmed their NatWest Series final place by beating Bangladesh on Sunday, the new regulations for one-day internationals were occupying the attention of the Test Match Special radio audience.

Inevitably, by far the majority of the response was opposed to the news, particularly the introduction of substitutes.

This is not surprising since most cricket lovers are naturally opposed to radical changes.

But if the England and Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Australia agree, this will be in place for the three NatWest Challenge matches between the two countries starting on 7 July.

This - and the flexible use of fielding restrictions - is purely an experiment, and will be reviewed when the ICC cricket committee meets again next year.

Let's deal with the change in fielding restrictions first.

There has been a growing feeling that the middle overs in one-day internationals - numbers 16 to 40 - are being played at a much slower pace and, therefore, have become boring.

Twenty20 has done no favours here, and it should not be forgotten that it is not entirely in the interests of cricket's administrators to do away with 50-over cricket.

The longer form of the game brings in much greater television revenue because it is on for longer, and more adverts are broadcast.

I sincerely hope changes are not rushed through for the NatWest Challenge
My only real concern about the fielding captain electing when to use two blocks of five overs is communication.

Everyone on the ground has to know exactly what is going on through a new umpire's signal and, also, some sort of sign on the scoreboard.

Otherwise, apart from making life even harder for the poor old bowler, there is no good reason to argue against it.

I do differ from the ICC line on the subject of substitutes, however, and I really wonder how much this has been properly thought through.

Surely, the team that wins the toss will hold all the aces in that they could choose what to do, based on what their substitute specialises in.

So, if you have a batsman as 12th man, you win the toss and field first with five or six bowlers.

Then, at half time, you replace the worst batsman in the team with your specialist.

They say times have changed, but I think these changes are too much
Dickie Bird

Chris Tremlett, who bowled seven overs at Headingley, would have been a prime example of this.

I am not concerned about substitutes infiltrating Test cricket because the ICC is making very clear the division between the two forms of the game.

However, I really do not believe that we want to see a situation in which you have an Americanisation of international cricket with a "bowling team" and a "batting team".

This, surely, is one step along that route.

But most important of all, I sincerely hope changes are not rushed through for the NatWest Challenge.

We have the prospect of three great one-day games between England and Australia with the first Test just around the corner.

The last thing anyone needs is unnecessary distraction.




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