New role for 12th man

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Australian cricket made a drastic change to the laws of the game yesterday, in a move as revolutionary as day-night matches and players in colourful clothing.

Critics of one-day cricket, who for years have derided the shortened game as being too much like baseball, gained further ammunition when the Australian Cricket Board voted to add an extra player to each team in the domestic limited overs competition.

The law changes allow for a "pinch-hitter", a term borrowed from baseball and used in cricket for a big-hitter promoted up the batting order to score quick runs early in an innings. Now the pinch-hitter role will be closer to the baseball model, with teams extended from 11 to 12 players. One batsman can play without fielding and one bowler will not be required to bat.

The changes were announced by the Australian Cricket Board's chief executive, Mal Speed, who joined the ACB from another American-influenced sport, basketball, earlier this year.

Dean Jones, the former Australian international who was considered the best limited overs player of his time by his compatriots, gave cautious support for the move but warned Australia not to lose sight of the main game - winning the 1999 World Cup.

"We have to make sure when we are doing things we are not trying to put things up to justify our jobs," Jones said. "Whatever we do has got to be a build up to winning the World Cup. I don't mind a bit of change but they should be making the wickets better for one-day cricket.

"A pinch hitter may be a good idea...but it's upsetting because batsmen who pinch one's or two's, make two into three, now will struggle as we see an explosion of the bigger hitters."

Appeal of two divisions, page 22