Sunil Gavaskar: Surprised by the high number of no balls in IPL

It is understandable for the quicker bowlers to bowl the occasional no-ball, but the spinners with their short run-ups overstepping is simply not acceptable.

“The Indian Premier League is a high pressure tournament where temperament often is the difference between a win and a loss and all the franchises should find ways which make for great team spirit,” says the author.   -  Sportzpics / IPL

What an exciting fortnight of IPL we have had so far. Most of the games have finished in the last over where both teams were in with a chance to win. We have had pitches in Chennai which have been testing the batsmen’s technique and temperament and we have had pitches in Mumbai where the batsmen could play their shots without much feet movement even as the quicker bowlers got the ball to hurry up to the wicketkeeper. The next fortnight will be interesting to see the pitches in Ahmedabad and Delhi and how the tactics change. In Chennai it was bat first and then even if the target was 140 it was not easy to chase it. In Mumbai even if the target was over 220 the teams defending it never felt safe or complacent.

Every year the IPL throws up a couple of newcomers to look forward to. So far this year we haven’t seen them as yet but with still many matches to go, hopefully we will see the players of the future soon.

The number of no-balls bowled has been a surprise to say the least. To an extent it is understandable for the quicker bowlers with their long run-ups to bowl the occasional no-ball in the extra effort to get the bouncer or the yorker on target, but the spinners with their short run-ups overstepping is simply not acceptable.

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The overstepping, even by a millimetre, not only gives the opposition a run and an extra delivery but also there’s a freehit, which means a batsman can’t be out. More often than not it’s the ‘free hit’ that changes the momentum of the game and turns it around as however experienced and good the bowler may be, he is still thinking of his mistake as he walks back to his mark to bowl the next ball. That is why very seldom does a bowler get the ‘free hit’ delivery right and the batting team breaks free and can run away with the game.

The game has become such a professional one with tape measures, etc., to mark run-ups and then spray painting the start of the run-ups and spoiling the lush green turf with it that there is no way a bowler should be bowling a no-ball.

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Since this is a tournament where there are players not just from different countries but also from various parts of India there is a constant effort, especially in these quarantined times, that coaches and team managers try and keep the spirits high with get-togethers, etc on the off days or before an important match. They can devise a method where every no-ball bowled is punished with a fine or every time a throw is not backed and covered by a fielder on the other side of the stumps is also fined and more such easily avoidable transgressions too. They can then use the fines to pay for the snacks and refreshments at the get-together and not only will there be less such transgressions but also a great deal of fun and leg-pulling as the fines are announced. This makes for great team spirit for even the captain and senior members, however big superstars they may be, can be fined and be shown as being equal like the rest of the team members.

Even the wides on the off-side are difficult to understand as it indicates pressure and can change the rhythm of the match. The wides on the leg-side are invariably marginal so they can be excused.

It is a high pressure tournament where temperament often is the difference between a win and a loss. While it is definitely an event where talent meets opportunity, it can only happen when talent and temperament walk hand-in-hand to grasp the hand that the opportunity has offered.

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