IPL’s two-bouncer rule food for thought for ICC

Aiden Markram for SRH in IPL
Aiden Markram for SRH in IPL (PC: X)

Following the successful trial in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has made a potentially groundbreaking decision to introduce a new rule in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 — two bouncers per over instead of one.

The tournament commences on March 22 with the clash between defending champions Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bengaluru in Chennai.

The bouncer rule marks a significant shift in the dynamics of T20 cricket, aiming at striking a balance between bat and ball. The move comes amid growing concerns over the dominance of batters in the shortest format, where boundaries are shorter, and innovative shots reign supreme.

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PBKS vs MI (PC: X)

“It is a welcome move by the BCCI,” former SunRisers Hyderabad and Bengal wicketkeeper-batter Shreevats Goswami told RevSportz. He has played for other franchises as well. “T20 cricket is heavily tilted towards batters. The kind of bats players use, shorter boundaries, field restrictions, dew — bowlers need to have an extraordinary day to make a mark.”

A member of Virat Kohli’s U-19 World Cup winning team of 2008, Goswami added: “Two bouncers an over will balance the battle slightly. It will bring a surprise element to the game. I am excited to see how bowlers use it in the IPL. In Syed Mushtaq Ali, there were quite a few bowlers who used two bouncers cleverly.”

Not many from the IPL generation would be aware that no legal bouncers were permitted in ODIs through the 1990s. In 1994, two bouncers per over became the rule in Tests. Seven years later, the ICC decided to allow only one bouncer per over in ODIs. This was increased to two in 2012. However, in T20I cricket, and in IPL also, the limit was one bouncer per over.

“More than death bowling, I feel it will help the bowlers in the power play and the middle overs. Earlier, after one bouncer, the batters would know that the bowler has burnt his option, so he would be assured that no more bouncers would be bowled in that over,” Goswami, who will do commentary in IPL 2024, said. “Bowlers with express pace will benefit the most. The likes of Shamar Joseph, Anrich Nortje and those who hit the deck hard and are quick, will be exciting to watch.”

Rashid Khan for GT in IPL
Rashid Khan for GT in IPL (PC: X)

With the decision to permit two bouncers per over in the domestic T20 competition and subsequently in the IPL, Indian cricket is poised for yet another transformation. And this could be food for thought for the ICC and international cricket as well.

The bouncer, once considered the ultimate weapon in a fast bowler’s arsenal, has undergone a metamorphosis over the years. While it was once feared for its ability to intimidate batters, it now contends with the ever-expanding repertoire of batting innovations. In modern-day cricket, batters possess the strength and skill to dispatch even the most ferocious bouncers to the ropes with ease.

“You can’t be predictable with bouncers. Modern-day batters have all the shots in their arsenal. If one can sense that a bouncer is coming, then he will upper-cut or ramp you over the keeper’s head. One has to use it wisely. But it can become really effective against batters who like to go hammer and tongs against fuller deliveries. It will keep them thinking,” Goswami added.

After the ‘Impact Player’ last season, IPL’s desire to innovate is going to make things more exciting for the fans. Whether the bowlers use it to perfection or batters continue to enjoy their dominance remains to be seen.

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