Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Nothing Strategic About It

The IPL has brought in a lot of novelty into Cricket. While some of them have added value to the game and the telecast of it, like Spidercam, stats seemingly appearing on the surface of the ground, innovative stokes like the scoop and reverse scoop; others, like Cheerleaders, the Mongoose bat etc. mostly been rejected as gimmicks. 

One new idea implemented in the IPL has been the concept of a "Strategic Time-out". The idea of a timeout is borrowed from NBA and NFL, where coaches of both sides have the option for calling for a fixed number of timeouts during the game. Reason being - The strategy in these sports is run by the coach (like soccer). There is no concept of an on field captain managing things on the field. Also, these sports are played very fast with no time to stop, discuss among players and coach and re-strategize (like time between balls and overs in Cricket). Hence, a timeout helps the team and coach to get together and plan the next step. In high octane games  like NBA, it also allows the players to catch a breather and start with full energy again. Otherwise they would loose steam after a while and the game would become slow and boring. And the icing on the cake is that it allows some ads to be put in between the game. There has been a case for having timeouts / smaller playing intervals in other sports like soccer and hockey for similar reasons. The Indian Hockey League (started a few years back with a model similar to IPL) has 4 quarters instead of 2 halves, for similar reasons.

However, none of the above apply to cricket. In cricket, the real time strategy is done by the captain on the field. He has enough time to speak to players after each over (and even between balls if required). Plus there are drinks breaks when teams can get together for discussions. The timeout has been added in the IPL for purely commercial reasons, to have 2 slots of 2.5 minutes each for ads, in addition to the 1 minute slots at the end of each over. As to why it is called "strategic", both teams have been given a slot of a few others (5-10 and 11-15 i think) when they can ask for a timeout at the end of any over. This can he done by a team if it feels that it needs a break to re-think in case the opposition is running away with the game. But since captains do all the strategizing at the end of every over anyway, no one uses the timeouts for any strategic purpose. Apart from the advertisers and BCCI, that is.

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