The cricketing world is gearing up for the much-anticipated ICC World Cup 2023, set to kick off in October. While fans eagerly await the clash of titans on the cricket field, behind the scenes, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has introduced some significant changes to ensure a more balanced and exciting tournament.
Especially in the modern era, cricket has often been perceived as a batsman’s paradise. With flat pitches and shorter boundaries, the game has increasingly favoured big hitters, making it challenging for bowlers to leave their mark. To address this issue and reduce the toss’s disproportionate influence on match outcomes, the ICC has rolled out a set of new protocols for pitch preparation.
The World Cup, scheduled for October and November, poses unique challenges due to the dew factor. Dew can significantly impact the game, making it difficult for spinners to grip the ball and aiding fast bowlers as deliveries skid onto the bat. Fielders also grapple with a wet ball, further tipping the scales in favour of the chasing team. This over-reliance on the toss to decide match results, primarily based on luck, has occasionally led to less exciting contests.
The ICC has advised pitch curators to leave extra grass on the wicket to mitigate this issue. The additional grass cover will level the playing field to some extent. Even when spinners might struggle to extract turn, the seamers can capitalize on the grassy surface, posing a more significant threat to batsmen. This move aims to make matches more competitive and intriguing.
A source told TOI, “Dew largely impacts the performance of spinners,” With more grass, teams will not have to depend as much on spinners. That will also help in having true surfaces. And ODI games don’t need to see very high scores to be interesting.”
The presence of additional grass on the pitch offers multiple advantages. Firstly, it reduces the impact of dew in the second innings, evening the odds for both teams. Spinners might find it challenging to grip the ball, but the pacers can exploit the grassy conditions, making the game more balanced and less dependent on the toss.
The grass cover will also benefit seamers in the first innings, especially on slower tracks commonly found in India. The variation in pitch conditions will make contests more interesting and unpredictable, providing fans with a genuine spectacle.
Another aspect of the ICC’s pitch protocols is revising boundary dimensions. Traditionally, cricket grounds have hosted matches with boundaries ranging from 70 to 75 meters, within the international standards of 65 to 85 meters. The ICC has suggested keeping boundaries at least 70 meters or more.
“The minimum size of boundaries for international matches is 65 metres, and the maximum is 85 metres. The old centres have a boundary size of around 70-75 metres. It has been suggested that boundaries should be kept more than 70 metres.”, the source added.
This boundary dimension adjustment aims to further level the playing field by reducing the number of easy sixes and fours. As a result, it will create opportunities for low-scoring thrillers and place greater importance on skills and strategy, ensuring a well-rounded cricketing experience.