Over the years, cricket has seen many changes in the rules that govern the game. Some of these experiments have been a blessing for the game while others have brought bad repute and criticism.
Let it be the rain rule that robbed South Africa of an opportunity to make the World Cup final in their first attempt or the ongoing debate about chucking and ball tampering, the 'gentleman's game' has seen lots of lows.
CricketNDTV takes a look at some of these duds and a few perennial problems that have plagued the game forever.
South Africa were re-admitted in international cricket after the end of the 'Apartheid' policy and they impressed everyone with their all-round display in the 1992 World Cup. Having made their way to the semi-finals, South Africa faced a stiff challenge from the English side and were left to chase a target of 253 runs in 45 overs.
Their dream of making it to the final was shattered when a crazy rain-rule robbed them of a legitimate chance to do so. The Proteas needed 22 runs from 13 balls when rain interrupted the proceedings. After the delay, they were given an impossible target of 21 runs to chase from just 1 ball. This left the South African bunch disgruntled and frustrated as the English marched on into the final.
This rain rule though would not be used for ODIs any further as it was eventually superseded by the Duckworth/Lewis System in the 1999 ICC World Cup. Calculations made later have suggested that according to the D/L Method, South Africa would need 4 runs off the last ball to tie the match and 5 runs to win it. This is undoubtedly one of the biggest official fiascos in cricket.
The ICC keeps changing the rules and laws that govern the game in order to make it interesting and reinvent the game from time to time. One such effort was the introduction of the Bonus Point system in ODIs, which gave a chance to the losers to salvage something from a game.
According to this system, 5 points would be awarded to the winners of a match and 1 bonus point would be up for grabs for either team, irrespective of the final result after meeting a certain criteria.
The 1 Bonus point was given to any team that achieves victory with a run rate 1.25 times that of the opposition. The team's run rate will be calculated by reference to the number of runs scored divided by the number of overs faced.
This system was tried in several multi-nation series but it led to more confusion and ended up giving an undue advantage to certain teams. The system helped India sneak into the final of the 2004 Asia Cup as they managed to get the bonus point against Pakistan even after losing the match by 59 runs.
Thus, the system came under criticism and was eventually dropped by ICC.
CC introduced this experimental One-Day International rule in July 2005, the twelfth man in each side became a substitute, able to come on and replace any player. The substitute was able to take over the substituted player's batting and bowling duties. The term used for this substitute player was 'Supersub'.
The first supersub was Vikram Solanki, who replaced Simon Jones at Headingley on 7 July 2005. However, as Solanki replaced Jones after England had bowled, and England only lost one wicket in chasing down Australia's target, Solanki did not get to play any part in the game. The ICC cancelled the experiment in February 2006.
There is no bigger sin in cricket after match-fixing than the act of 'Ball tampering'. For years this issue has cropped up from time time and on every occasion it has left a bad taste in the mouth of cricket officials and players involved.
Under the laws of cricket, the ball may be polished without the use of an artificial substance, may be dried with a towel if it is wet, and have mud removed from it under supervision; all other actions which alter the condition of the ball are illegal.
But there have been many instances when cricketers have been caught on camera or later accused for tampering with the seam of the ball or using sharp objects to scuff it. The biggest ball tampering scandal saw the Pakistan team led by Inzamam-ul-Haq walk off the pitch during a Test match against England at the Oval.
Pakistani bowlers have been accused of tampering from time to time. There was a big hue and cry in India after Sachin Tendulkar was reprimanded by match referee Mike Dennes for alleged tampering.
But irrespective of so many instances, the ICC is yet to come out with a flawless rule that could eradicate this evil.
Ball tampering: A saga that refuses to end
The debate surrounding the legality of a bowler's action has existed for a long time in both international and first class cricket. In days of yore, the discretion of the umpire was supreme and whichever bowler's action met the umpire's eyes as illegal was called for 'chucking'.
With the advent of technology though, the ICC now has a rule that helps to figure out whether a bowler's action is legal or not. With the help of biomechanical and audiovisual technology, it has been summed up that every bowler has a certain degree of bend in his elbow during the time of delivery. This flex of the elbow is common among most bowlers and hence after a review by an expert panel, the ICC decided to fix the limit of the flex to 15 degrees for all bowlers. This limit was chosen as the ICC believed that any flexing of the elbow above 15 degrees would be visibly noticeable.
But even in the presence of all these rules, several bowlers including Sri Lankan great Muttiah Muralitharan, Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar and Australian Brett Lee have been questioned over the years about the legality of their actions.
The Duckworth Lewis system used to decide rain-interrupted matches has forever been under great scrutiny. The system has often been criticised for aiding the side batting second and the its application in T20 matches is now under the microscope after England skipper Paul Collingwood hit out at the system after his side lost to West Indies in a group game in the 2010 ICC World Twenty20.
England scored 191/5 in 20 overs, and rain interrupted play after 2.2 overs of the chase when West Indies had scored 30/0. According to the D/L method, West Indies were set a target of 60 runs in 6 overs, which they achieved with a ball to spare.
The D/L system uses the resources (wickets and overs) available with the side batting second to ascertain the revised target. But with the T20 game being extremely short, questions are now being raised about its appropriateness in this format.
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