With the possible exception of Michael Vaughan’s Twitter feed nothing is more likely to trigger a cricket fan than the prospect of change. So when the organisers of the Big Bash announced the 2020-21 version would feature three new rules: the Power Surge, the X-Factor and the Bash Boost, the reaction was at best lukewarm. However, Trent Woodhill’s innovations defied expectations and a consensus has formed that their implementation has been a success.
The Power Surge, in particular, has received widespread praise. In short this rule allows the batting team to move the last two overs of their powerplay from overs five and six, to the second half of their innings. This tweak added a layer of tactical nuance and intrigue to the middle overs of the game, which had developed a deserved reputation for dullness.
What is also clear is that, despite teams still trying to get to grips with the strategic intricacies of the change, the cricket it produced was more exciting. Prior to 2020-21, in the BBL, the average run rate in the last two overs of the powerplay was 8.01, at the cost of 58 total wickets. Last season, the Power Surge overs went for more than 10 runs per over and produced 96 wickets.
This has led to calls from some to introduce the Power Surge into international cricket. One surprising proponent of this is Kane Richardson, who took an absolute pounding during such overs, finishing as the third most expensive Power Surge bowler during this year’s BBL.
“I enjoyed watching it as a fan,” he said “There were games I didn’t particularly enjoy bowling in, but as a fan it made games interesting where you thought the game was decided, especially in the second innings.
“I think Trent [Woodhill] and the BBL did a really good job with that, whether or not it goes to international cricket. It probably has a place to be fair.”
He did, however, have some caveats regarding a proposed timeline for this change: “It’s interesting, it’s tactical, it’s good to watch, so there’s nothing but positives for that. But as a bowler, if we could probably steer clear of it at international and IPL level until I’m maybe too old to be playing, I’ll happily sit back in my old rocking chair and watch.”
Although Richardson’s comments, in advance of Australia’s T20 series against New Zealand, sound slightly tongue-in-cheek, talk about introducing the Power Surge into international cricket are likely to grow in volume. The argument is that in a format built around non-stop action, then it deserves serious contemplation.
On the other hand, the rules were introduced to give the BBL a unique flavour and to address a decline in enthusiasm for that tournament as a whole. Whilst it has definitely worked on both of those counts, the case for the international game altering its fastest growing format is significantly weaker.
Certainly it is unlikely we will see any changes in the near future, as the game’s administrators will bide their time and wait for the Power Surge’s sophomore season, or for other franchise leagues to test the concept themselves. Leaving us with the status quo at the international level for the near future. A state of affairs which Kane Richardson, among other bowlers, will be content with.