Cricket: ICC allows extra bouncer per over: Lord's changes intimidatory bowling rule

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The Independent Online
THE International Cricket Council, which conducts so many experiments that it ought to meet inside a laboratory rather than Lord's, has once again altered the regulation on intimidatory fast bowling. The last experiment (one bouncer per batsman per over) has been ditched, two years through its intended three-year term, and a further three-year experiment of two bouncers per over (to either batsman) has now replaced it.

A perfectly clear law of cricket (42: Unfair Play) has been in operation since W G Grace first grew a beard, but because it is so inconsistently applied, the ICC has felt compelled to give umpires a sharp nudge towards tougher action and stricter interpretation.

Largely on their own recommendation, the umpires are no longer required to judge for themselves whether a bowler is intending to intimidate, merely whether a bowler is 'likely to inflict physical injury'. Also, if the two bouncer per over allocation is exceeded, the resultant no-ball will be worth two runs instead of one.

The move towards stamping out player indiscipline has resulted in a reduction of the number of match referees, in the hope of them gaining more experience and consistency, and the ICC will issue them with written directives to impose 'stiffer penalties'.

One change in a referee's routine will be to officiate at the toss, a job which nowadays appears to be conducted by straw-boatered television presenters. Whether or not this is because the ICC has received some evidence of coin- tampering is not clear, although it may be the result of a curious incident in New Zealand last winter.

Ken Rutherford spun the coin, Salim Malik, the Pakistan captain, uttered something that may or may not have been Urdu, and when it landed, promptly informed a bemused Rutherford that Pakistan had decided to bat.

There is an overdue change in the regulations on the thorny issue of players representing more than one country at different levels. From now on, anyone who plays at under-19 level will find it a touch harder to go on and play for someone else in a Test match.

In the case of someone like Andrew Caddick, born in New Zealand, he would now have to go through the four-year residential qualification to make the switch from New Zealand Under-19s to the England Test team. In the case of someone like Craig White, who played for Australia's Under-19s, he will have to wait only two years because he was born here. However, it is still possible for a player to represent three different countries in a six-year span.

Other decisions taken included keeping the Test match day at 90 overs, rather than 96, continuation of the international umpires panel and the 'third' umpire on television monitoring duty, and rejection of a plan to make cricket's World Cup a three rather than four-yearly event. The 1995 World Cup in India and Pakistan will be held between 14 February and 17 March.

(Photograph omitted)