Former Indian batsman Sanjay Manjrekar suggested some radical changes to bridge the gap between the bat and ball and urged to do away with free hits, leg byes and even top-edged boundaries. He also added that helmets have given significant advantage to the batters and have shifted the balance.
One of the widely accepted facts in the cricketing world is that the game has been too tilted in favor of the batsmen, with the bowlers bearing the brunt of it. From it being once too bowler friendly, with no helmets, uncovered pitches, lower quality bats, and lesser effective protective requirements, now things have taken a U-turn. However, with the advancements in the game, corresponding rules haven't been introduced to maintain the balance between the bat and bat, with the bowlers getting alienated, especially in the shorter formats of the game, where, at times, erecting a bowling machine seems like a better idea.
Renowned cricket expert Sanjay Manjrekar, in a bid to bring back balance in the game, has suggested some radical changes. He highlighted how helmets have proven to be game changers in skewing the balance towards the batters. He said that after giving a helmet to the batters, something should have been given to the bowlers as well.
"Would a batter go down on one knee against a big fast bowler, his face perfectly in line with a ball coming at 90 mph, to play a Dilscoop if he wasn’t wearing a helmet? When we gave batters helmets, we should have felt obligated to give something significant back to the bowlers too," Sanjay Manjrekar wrote in his column for HT.
He urged that the leg-byes should be taken out of the game as it's unfair on the bowlers, especially if the ball goes for a four after the bowler has outfoxed the batsman.
"For example, we see this scenario many times—a bowler has bowled a great delivery and the batter is deceived, can’t put bat to ball. But the ball brushes his pads and goes to the fine leg boundary. Umpire signals four, in favour of the batting team! Batter rewarded, bowler penalised. How does that make sense from any angle," he questioned.
Manjrekar also reflected on how painful it is to see the bowler conceding a six even after the batsmen is beaten as the ball flies off the edge of his bat for a maximum.
"It pains me, especially in T20 cricket, to see the bowler being penalised 6 runs when he has bowled a superb short ball, bouncing at a legitimate height which a No.11 batter has slogged with eyes closed. The ball flies off the edge over the keeper, crashing into the sight-screen. Teams have won close matches like this when in actual event it’s the bowler who’s won the contest. There is just no cricketing logic to this, except that it’s been the thing over the years," the former TV commentator said.
The former Indian cricketer cited Baseball as an example and pointed how it doesn't reward failure like cricket in similar scenarios.
"In baseball, the batter gets no reward if the ball flies off his club behind him because he has not made a good enough connection. Baseball rewards success while cricket rewards failure; no wonder the batter in cricket has a sheepish smile every time this happens."
The former Indian batsman, who played 37 Tests and 74 ODIs and scored 2,043 and 1,994 runs for India, was also not in favor of the free hits and even stated that it's a rule probably,introduced by a sadist who hated bowlers.
"Free hit is another thing I want gone, again terribly unfair on the bowlers. Today with the TV umpire monitoring no balls, a bowler has to be a centimetre over and immediately a string of punishments are meted out to him.
"The bowler has to bowl an extra ball for starters, the batter cannot be out to that no ball already bowled, and there is also a penalty of one run. To add to that, there is a free hit offered to the batsman next ball in which he cannot be out. The penalty is just not commensurate to the ‘wrongful’ act. It’s as if the rule was introduced by a sadist who hated bowlers."