World Cup 2019: ICC’s Bizarre Rules Continue To Bamboozle

A cricket fan reacts to a New Zealand dismissal as cricket fans watch live coverage of the England vs New Zealand Cricket World Cup final match at the Four Kings bar in Wellington, New Zealand on July 15, 2019. (Photo by Marty MELVILLE / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARTY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images)

For 100 overs, the two sides were evenly matched. Both scored 241 in their allotted quota and everyone felt that both deserved to win. But of course, the ICC had planned for such an eventuality: a shootout so bizarre that it would put any 1950s Hollywood western to shame.

Both teams scored exactly the same number of runs in a designated Super Over. But England sneaked home because they’d hit more boundaries in their innings! The Kiwis had hit 16 while the champions had six more in their bag. Of course, one isn’t sure what would’ve happened if both had had the same number of boundaries!

Imagine if one were to swap fans from Wimbledon to the Lord’s and asked them to explain the goings-on in the World Cup finals? Having watched Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic take two sets apiece and stay even for 12 games each in the final set before facing a tie-breaker, we’re sure the tennis fans would have had no clue.

This isn’t the first time that the ICC’s rules have befuddled even cricketing nations. Who can forget the bemused look turning into angry disbelief on the faces of Brian McMillan and Dave Richardson of South Africa, who were suddenly asked to score 22 runs off one delivery in their match against- who else- England… at the 1992 World Cup?

Many of us in India would remember the equally daft manner in which India beat Pakistan in a league encounter during the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa. The winner was decided by bowlers trying to knock down the stumps at the other end. For India, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Robin Uthappa did so while the Pakistani bowlers missed!

Kane Williamson made an oblique reference to their discomfiture on the rain rules while suggesting that his team was thinking only of overhead conditions when they chose to bat after winning the toss. For who in their sane mind could imagine that the result of cricket’s marquee event would be decided on the number of boundaries?

“It was a shame that the ball hit Stokes’ bat, but I just hope it doesn’t happen in moments like that. Unfortunately, that sort of thing happens from time to time. It’s a part of the game that we play. I don’t want to nit-pick, just hope it never happens in such moments ever again.”

That’s about as acerbic as Williamson can ever get.

Of course, the romantics (and England supporters) would be quick to remind us that cricket is indeed a game of glorious uncertainties and crazy moments – like Ben Stokes accidentally deflecting an overthrow to the boundary in the final over, or Trent Boult stepping over the line while attempting a catch in the penultimate over.

That still begs the question about who actually frames these daft rules? For example, batsmen seldom run off overthrows when the ball hits them as it is considered “not cricket”. But because Stokes’ accidental touch resulted in a boundary, England got six additional runs to their name, which proved crucial in the end.

After the 1992 disaster, the ICC caught hold of two English statisticians Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis to formulate the Duckworth-Lewis method which was officially adopted in 1999. It was remodeled by an Australian scientist Steven Stern in 2014 to lend it some semblance of logic, though teams continue to be wary of rain-interruptions as the rules are opaque.

Fans can now only hope that the governing body sits down and does some serious introspection over how they’d want future ICC tournaments handled, at least the finals. Unless they’re okay with continuing to remain the laughing stock of those who find cricket tough to fathom.

One caught a glimpse of Indira Nooyi, the former boss of Pepsico in the box at the Lord’s. As an independent director of the ICC, we wonder how she felt about the daft rule that gave England their first World Cup, 44 years after it was introduced in their backyard as the premier championship of cricket.

After all, it might have been equally logical to award the trophy to New Zealand because they lost fewer wickets in getting to the final score!

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