The (sole) pro and (many) cons of the Big Bash League’s mad new rules

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The videogamification of short format cricket continues with the announcement of a series of BOOSTS and POWER SURGES in the Big Bash League. (Why don’t they ever use genuinely entertaining videogame mods, like Sensible Soccer’s reduced gravity or Goldeneye’s giant heads mode?)

The new rules are predictably puzzling and – as is always the case with this kind of tinkering – probably more likely to make games less exciting.

We can see only one positive, which we’ll get to in a moment. Let’s look at the other rules first.

Let’s start with Power Surge.

What strikes us here is the branding. Aren’t power surges bad?

The notion that ‘more = better’ seems to us to be a fundamental misunderstanding of the world held by all cricket administrators.

More matches = fewer fast bowlers

More power = broken devices

A power surge broke our oven clock a few weeks back. This led to the discovery that the oven clock is apparently a vital component for the working of the oven itself. It seems that if you can’t set the clock, you can’t set the timer and if you can’t set the timer, you can’t switch the oven on – even if you’re not using the timer. (And honestly, who uses an oven timer anyway?)

So that’s that dealt with. Moving swiftly on to Bash Boost, which is the one we don’t really have anything to say about.

So for some reason you get a point for being sort of vaguely on track runs-wise halfway through an innings, regardless of how many wickets you’ve lost.

[Shrug emoji]

Now for the X-Factor, the one that is not in any way good, but which has a credible ‘good’ angle if you think long and hard enough about it.

Remember cricket’s old definition of the term ‘X-factor’?

Cricket used to think that an ‘X-factor cricketer’ meant ‘a really good cricketer who is almost certainly either a fast bowler or a wrist spinner, or maybe a fast-scoring batsman at a push.’

Cricket now thinks that an X-factor cricketer is ‘a cricketer who isn’t good enough to get into the first XI and maybe not even good enough to be 12th man’.

Now here’s the good part. It’s a two-stage thing.

Stage 1 is that the term will become a new, kind way to leave someone out of a team. When a child hasn’t made the cut because they are terrible at cricket, they will be told, “you’re an X-factor cricketer”.

These youngsters will be happy with this way of doing things for about five minutes until all the other kids impose their own new definition of ‘X-factor cricketer’, which will be ‘person who is shit at things’.

And then we’re at Stage 2, which will be a time when professional cricket stops using the term ‘X-factor’.

Happy days.

16 comments

  1. No support for a bowling power surge? No limit on bouncers per over, no counting overs bowled under the ‘surge’ toward the bowler’s quota. If you want to be a bit more radical, allow bowlers to bowl successive overs.

    Change the Bash boost to allow wickets taken to matter too. If the bowling side takes more than 5 wickets in the first 10 overs, award them a point. Surely attacking play is to be encouraged, not just attacking batting. Keep the batting points too. Points all around!

    And the X-factor business is just allowing a substitute isn’t it? IMO the ODI substitute was a good idea, just implemented terribly. Instead of announcing a playing XI, all they had to do was modify the laws to announce a playing XII. A substitution could then take place at any point in the match. Requiring the XI to be announced before the toss meant that the team that lost the toss was pretty much forced to make the ‘substitution’ immediately at the start of the match.

  2. I would fully back what Aditya says.
    What is concerning is that if you read the cricket.com.au page about the new rules is that they have said that it “come from things from a high-performance perspective, rather than just a gimmick, so I like that these changes pass the high-performance test around strategy and elite performance.” and they repeatedly say that is just going to be a focus on the decisions made by the coaches and the captains
    I think it is just a waste of time and a way that they can put more pressure on captains and generally make the whole thing a bit rubbish

  3. There’s always the option of simply not doing something that is clearly shit. I remember when the ECB introduced it they considered adding in stuff that wasn’t normally in cricket like targets to hit and timeouts. In the end they stuck with normal cricket rules and changed cricket forever. Perhaps not piss around with an already incredibly successful format?

  4. Just to even things up – introduce the Cobra Overs.

    The fielding captain can introduce a large poisonous snake anywhere on the field of play for two overs. Silly point or fly slip (nicely out of the batsman’s eyeline) would be my choice of placement, but a whole new role of Snake Analyst could be created to determine best tactics.

    Five penalty runs if you hit it.

    May have potential marketing tie-ins with the beer company.

  5. Cricket has got an offside but never disallows any runs for it. If we’re going to meddle with the rules to increase general incomprehension, this seems as good a place as any to start.

  6. I have the same issue with regard to ovens (the clock-dependency, not the clock-brokenness) – if I don’t set the timer, the heat turns itself off after about a minute.

    That is a very annoying ‘feature’ to forget, particularly in a situation where you have put something in the oven, forgotten to set the timer, then return to the oven a short while later to discover there has been no cooking occurring in the interim.

    It also basically only works properly on the ‘mode’ that cooks pizzas, although strangely that hasn’t really proven much of an issue for me.

    1. The ‘X-factor’ also allows captain to cover up bad decisions. For example, if you think it will be a turning pitch and pick a 3rd spinner then your pace bowlers take a bunch of wickets in the Powerplay (or power surge??) then the captain can substitute that extra spinner for a pace bowler. This removes the fun of laughing at captains for totally rubbish decisions.

  7. ODIs went through a phase of having an element of “powerplays” that were batting-side’s choice or bowling-side’s choice. They called them “batting power play” and “bowling power play”. That was in the days before all overs were some sort of powerplay or another, making a mockery of the term.

    Like you I worry about power surges and ovens. I wonder whether these new Bash playing conditions are oven ready in much the way that Britain’s Brexit deal was oven-ready?

    I worry about the Bash Boost more than you do. I’m imagining circumstances where, for league table reasons, a team only seeks one point (or worse, seeks to deprive its opponents of one point) and therefore plays the match as if the only thing that matters is the first 10 overs. I’m not sure I like the idea of thats ort of gaming within a twenty over a side match.

    The term X-Factor seems quite straightforward. You have a list of the people you might pick as your first team. You put ticks by the names of the chosen eleven and Xs by the names of those who didn’t quite make the cut. X-factor. I’ve been there, believe me, I’ve been there.

  8. What is it with cricket marketers wanting to find really exciting ways of describing slightly different fielding restrictions?

  9. Cricket administrators need to decide who their target audience is.
    Fans who already watch it or potential new fans to be drawn in?
    This appeals to neither.
    C’mon cricket administrators. This is marketing 101 for gods sake!

  10. The comments on this post are a lot more about the rules and less about personal experience of power surges than I had expected

    In other news, England have fixtures for next year! Including Tests in September when it will probably rain in Manchester! I look forward to enjoying an in-person rain delay at Old Trafford, as opposed to the televised rain delays I’ve had to put up with this year.

    1. Surely it’s still amazing that matches might happen at all. Imagine being at a match that is due to be played but isn’t being played as opposed to not being at a match because it is not due to be played!

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