The 2019 Cricket World Cup final was one of the greatest matches ever played in the history of the sport, if not the greatest ever. As an advert for the ODI format, and cricket in general, you could not have asked for a better game.
Yet there was a fatal flaw in that match, one that put the ICC in the dock in the eyes of experts and fans alike. Every sporting event needs a satisfactory conclusion, especially if it is the final of a big tournament. The final between New Zealand and England lacked precisely this, and it was all down to the mechanism of “super over.”
The way the keenly contested match was ultimately decided by the Super Over-rule left a bad taste in the mouths of everyone who watched it. Even the overjoyed English fans had to acknowledge that the system was far from perfect.
There was no other way in front of the ICC after that match – they had to make some changes. And they have duly delivered, though not to the extreme levels that some had expected. Here are the new rule changes on how cricket matches that end in a tie from now on will be decided.
The Super Over will not be scrapped
Cricket, like football, has a slightly ambiguous stance towards matches that end in ties. In league matches and group matches, ties are left as is at the end of the allotted 50 overs, with teams sharing the spoils.
But at tournament level, in knockout rounds, finals and other key matches, the Super Over rule will come into play. As the extra time in football, the super over is a single over given to both teams to try and score more than the other.
It works fine in most instances, but as the world cup final demonstrated, exceptional matches can bring out some glaring flaws. When the super over ended in a rare tie, the match had to be decided on the farcical basis of the number of boundaries scored by each team.
While the ICC has removed that rule, the Super Rule mechanism will continue in all future ODI and T20 World Cups. This decision was made during the board meeting of the ICC in Dubai in October 2019.
Instead, there will be multiple Super Overs
The Super Over in itself was a very sensible rule. The bad move was in restricting it to just a single over. Given the scoring dynamic in cricket, it is quite reasonable to expect at least a fair few super overs ending in a tie as well.
What is unforgivable in hindsight, is the use of very weak factors like the number of boundaries scored by each team to decide the winner. In a match of cricket, that feels like an unjust metric to decide the better team. Great teams can easily win by scoring fewer boundaries if they rotate the strike well, especially in the middle overs.
So the current decision to allow multiple super-overs seems like a sensible idea, and eminently practical as well. If one super-over ends in a tie, the teams will have another opportunity to get ahead in a second over, and so on.
The rule will not be applied equally at all stages of a tournament. For instance, in the group stages, there will only be a single super over. If that fails to decide the match, it will be declared a tie. It is only in the advanced stages of knockout rounds, semi-finals and the finals that the new rule will apply.
How the cricketing world reacted
The Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar was all for the new rules. Tweeting in favor of the changes, he called it “a fair way to obtain a result when nothing else separates the two teams.” While the general reaction on social media was also positive, there was a lot of sympathy for the New Zealand team, as this rule change comes at their expense.
Ex-skipper Stephen Fleming echoed this sentiment, calling it “the right move,” but also adding that the “damage was already done (for Newzealand).” Some of the Kiwi players who lost that final were far less diplomatic, with Jimmy Neesham, in particular, tweeting a very sarcastic reply.
With the next ICC tournament scheduled for 2020, there is still plenty of time before we can see the new rule in action. The T20 World Cup is exactly one year away, but the qualifiers are starting to heat up. A quick look at the full list of UK’s top bookies will give you exciting odds on the qualifiers between minor teams and other ongoing series.
In the match between Scotland and Singapore, the Scots are the clear favorites with odds of 1.24 versus 4.75 for the Southeast Asian team. In a match involving experienced minnows Netherlands and Kenya, the Dutch have odds of 1.14, far ahead of the Simbas who have odds of 6.0.
Another more evenly contested match is between rivals in the Persian Gulf – Oman and UAE. The bookies have Oman slight favorites at 1.81, as opposed to UAE’s 2.05. Hong Kong is going through a political crisis at the moment, and their team faces heavy odds of 5.10 against the very strong Irish team who are clear favorites at 1.17.