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Last Updated: Monday, 11 July, 2005, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Super new rules?
Veteran umpire Rudi Koertzen looked a little self-conscious as he signalled the start of an England "powerplay", but he has 10 months to get used to it.

Umpire Koertzen signals a powerplay
The trial period has just begun for new rules allowing substitutes to bat and field, and moving fielding restrictions in five over blocks throughout an innings.

After just two games under those regulations, between England and Australia on Thursday and Sunday, most agree they need time to bed in.

But there are plenty of opinions as to tweaks that could be made to improve the system further.

THE EFFECTS SO FAR

Headingley, Thursday 7 July:
England (batting second) beat Australia by nine wickets

Supersubs:

England: Vikram Solanki replaced Simon Jones after 31 overs

Batsman Solanki came in once pace bowler Jones had completed his 10-over quota, and was a useful presence in the field for the final 19 overs but did not get a chance to bat.

Australia: Brad Hogg replaced Matthew Hayden after 22 overs

Wrist-spinner Hogg was already on the field substituting for Shane Watson, who had bowled three overs before injuring his thigh.

When the super-substitution was made, batsman Hayden, who never bowls, stayed on as a fielding sub.

Hogg took a wicket with his third ball, dismissing Andrew Strauss to end an opening partnership that had just passed the 100 mark.

Powerplays:

Vikram Solanki
Supersub Solanki was not called upon to bat in either match
England: Powerplay 2: 11-15 overs, Powerplay 3: 16-20 overs

Michael Vaughan's decision to use the close fielders in the first 20 overs meant openers Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden were kept under pressure for longer.

Gilchrist was caught behind in the 16th over and Hayden mis-timed a pull to mid-wicket in the 17th - both after the field would have spread under old rules.

Australia: Powerplay 2: 11-15 overs, Powerplay 3: 16-20 overs

Ricky Ponting followed suit and although he could not dislodge Trescothick and Strauss, they decided not to hit out in bowler-friendly conditions with men close to the bat.


Lord's, Sunday 11 July:
Australia (batting second) beat England by seven wickets

Supersubs:

England: no supersub used

Vikram Solanki was nominated, and England considered using him in place of a bowler when early wickets fell, but decided against it when their batting recovered.

Australia: Brad Haddin replaced Glenn McGrath three overs into Australia's innings.

Haddin, a wicket-keeper and flamboyant batsman, did not get a chance to take the field as Australia cruised to victory. McGrath had already taken 1-37 in 10 overs.

Powerplays:

Australia: Powerplay 2: 11-15 overs, Powerplay 3: 16-20 overs

Ponting stuck to the same system and saw both Trescothick - caught behind trying to hit over the top - and Pietersen - playing on looking to drive through the covers - dismissed as a result.

England: Powerplay 2: 16-20 overs, Powerplay 3: 34-38 overs

With Ponting and Simon Katich in full flow, Vaughan spread the field in the 11th over and brought his slower bowlers on to slow the rate successfully.

The batsmen upped the pace again in Powerplay 2, with Ponting hitting Andrew Flintoff for six, but Katich was caught off Giles in the first over with the field relaxed again.

Powerplay 3, used with the match already heading to a conclusion, saw Steve Harmison targeted heavily.

OPINIONS SO FAR

Watching Hogg turn from sub to super-sub while on the field, Test Match Special commentator Geoff Lawson suggested he should wear his underpants outside his trousers to make the change clear.

More seriously, the flaw spotted by many was expressed by Allen on the TMS message board.

"I think the stupidest part of the rule is that teams have got to name their 12 even before the toss," he said.

"As it is, the toss is one major factor in determining the outcome of a game outside of team ability. This rule makes the team that loses the toss pay even more dearly."

Another TMS user, "high_elven_lord" explained the problem in the context of Sunday's match.

TMS MESSAGEBOARDS
"When Australia won the toss and fielded, they could allow Glenn McGrath to bowl his ten overs and then sub him for a batsman.

"But England had Vikram Solanki as sub, who they could not use to strengthen their batting line up without seriously depleting their bowling for later in the game."

The simplest solution would be to allow teams to nominate a supersub from among their 12 after the toss takes place.

As for the fielding rules, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, former England captain Michael Atherton said he believed the changes were minimal.

"If the powerplays are an attempt to spice up the middle period of the game, why not give the batting captain, and not the bowling captain, the choice of when to use them?

"What is perceived as the dull nudging and nurdling stage will simply be reduced by five overs, occurring between overs 20-40 instead of 15-40," he said.

There may be criticism and calls for tinkering but until next May they are unlikely to be addressed as the ICC cricket committee, which formulated the rules, next meets then.

"There is no plan or provision to adjust the new playing conditions before they are reviewed by the cricket committee in 10 months time," an ICC spokesman confirmed.

Just because there will be no immediate effect, though, does not mean opinions should not be expressed.




SEE ALSO
Ponting leads Aussies to victory
10 Jul 05 |  Cricket
England in easy win over Aussies
07 Jul 05 |  Cricket


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