BBL|10: How Teams Can Adapt To The New Rules
Much like every person on earth has had to do in 2020, BBL teams will also have to adapt to never-seen-before protocols. Players won't need to think twice about handling a ball coated in their own team-mate’s saliva, while they’ll also have to settle for an elbow tap instead of a handshake at the end of a match.
Something else BBL teams will have to adapt to is the sudden introduction of three brand-new rules ahead of the competition’s tenth season. All three have been designed to bring more "more strategy" into the game, while lessening the "hit-and-hope" mentality T20 cricket is too often accused of.
Regardless of whether you sit on the ‘innovative’ or ‘gimmicky’ side of the fence where the new rules are concerned, teams will need to invest both time and brain-power navigating these changes, as too will broadcast crews and fans.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the new rules as well as the possible implications upon teams.
The mandatory power-play overs – where bowling teams can only have two fielders outside of the ring - are being cut back from the first six, to the first four overs of each innings.
The other two overs are not disappearing though, they’ll take place at some point after midway through the innings, and at the discretion of the batting team.
Like when its predecessor existed, batting teams deciding when to push the ‘go-button’ on their 'Power Surge' will still need to weigh up delaying it long enough until they have a ‘set’ partnership in place rather than sheepishly having to use it when their tail-enders mightn't be able to capitalise on the unprotected boundaries.
Bowling teams will also need to keep the power surge in the back of their minds. Perhaps we'll see teams use some overs from their best bowlers during these powerplay overs as opposed to the traditional way of saving them for death overs.
Looking at the bowlers with the best power-play-over economy rates over the last four seasons, it seems the Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Renegades may be the best-equipped to handle Power Surge periods given they both have two top-10 bowlers in that category. It's interesting to note that both the Melbourne Stars and Hobart Hurricanes are not represented in this list.
That's not to say that the bowlers listed will definitely be deployed in those overs given that stars such as Peter Siddle and Kane Richardson are renowned for being used at the death, and teams tend to bowl their spinners earlier in the innings anyway.
Some may remember the infamous 2005/06 trial of the ‘Super-sub’ in one day international cricket which was so ill-received it actually resulted in a player boycott.
In essence, the X-Factor Player rule is similar to the ‘Super-sub’, yet thankfully contains some key differences from its parental form.
For starters, the x-factor can only be incorporated from the mid-way point of the 1st innings, and where the player being replaced hasn’t yet have had a significant impact on the game.
What we won’t be seeing is teams that are bowling first use their X-Factor Player to swap their resident number-11 for a more recognised batter as they'd have presumedly bowled more than the one-over maximum.
What will perhaps be a more common occurrence is teams batting strongly enough to afford the luxury of swapping out someone who didn’t bat for a better bowler to be deployed in the second innings.
Finally, a new rule which is not merely a fancy-named re-incarnation of some previous version!
The winning team of each match this season will be awarded three points, but there's also a one point 'Bash Boost' on offer for the team that's ahead based on the scores at the end of their respective 10th over.
This means that matches will result in either a 4-0 or 3-1 distribution of points, however it remains to be clarified exactly how the 'Bash Boost' will be awarded in the event of a 10-over mark tie, or when a match is a rain-affected.
Across all nine previous BBL seasons, and in matches where both teams have batted for at least 10-overs, the team that won the game had also been ahead at the 10-over mark on approximately 69% of occasions. That kind of differential could be the difference between a team qualifying for Finals, or perhaps even earning a home Final.
So what will a typical Bash Boost-winning score look like? From all matches across BBL01-09 which had both teams bat for at least 10 overs, the average score which would have won the Bash Boost point has been 82 – so if a team gets something around that number, they would expect to be a big chance of at least earning one point from the match.
There's clearly a wide range of over-lapping ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ 10-over scores. With that said, we have seen an instance of 46 being enough to win a Bash Boost point, while we've also seen a very healthy 107 be reeled in. These numbers are also all under the caveat that they're based on matches where teams did not have their 10-over score in mind during their innings, so it would be expected they'll nudge higher this season now that it will be in focus.
The 'Bash Boost' might also introduce some bizarre situations at the back-end of the season where a team may only need a single point to qualify for Finals or lock up a Home final. In such a case, we could see a situation where a team comes out with the sole intent of belting their way towards a massive ten-over total without caring too much about the bigger picture result.
Astute teams will no doubt find some other creative ways to gain any slight edge they can with the inclusion of the new rules in BBL10 and we will all be watching with interest for what new tactics may sprout as a result.
Hopefully your team can adapt quickly, and won’t be left languishing behind.