BRISBANE: The Magellan Ashes are underway and it will be the first series Australia has played under a host of new rules that could have a major impact on the five-Test bout against England.
Restrictions on bat thickness, the power for umpires to send violent players off the field and tweaks to the Decision Review System are among the most notable rule modifications the International Cricket Council introduced in September.
Below, we’ve summed up all the major changes and how they could affect this summer’s Ashes.
Decision Review System
An alteration to the Umpire’s Call element of the DRS will be a welcome change for many captains, although the modification is a double-edged sword as teams now have less reviews to play with if they are careless with them.
Under the previous regulations, teams were permitted two unsuccessful reviews every 80 overs during a Test innings.
The new ICC playing conditions dictate teams won’t lose a review if they send an lbw decision upstairs and ball-tracking technology comes up ‘Umpire’s Call’ (which is used when a decision is deemed too close to overturn) as was previously the case.
But with that allowance comes a catch; teams will no longer receive ‘top-up’ reviews after 80 overs.
It means that although teams will have more leeway with what’s deemed an ‘unsuccessful review’, if they burn their two reviews early they could be stuck for a long stint in the field with no recourse for marginal decisions
In line with the Marylebone Cricket Club’s new Code of Laws, the ICC has cracked down on oversized bats in international cricket.
Bat edges have been limited to 40mm and their overall depth – the distance between the face and the deepest point on the back of the bat – to 67mm, with umpires given bat gauges to check any piece of willow they suspect of being too large.
While the likes of David Warner have previously used bats that exceed the new restrictions, Australia’s Test batsmen have not been caught on the hop by the changes as leading bat-makers were given plenty of notice of the changes.
Players had previously been using bats with edges as big as 55mm and up to 80mm in overall depth, according to bat manufacturer Grey-Nicolls.
But never fear, Warner doesn’t believe his big-hitting capabilities will be curtailed by the change.
“It’s basically the same bats that I started my career with,” the left-hander said in September. “I took them (his old bats) down to my bat-maker and said ‘we’ve got to go back to what we started with’.
“It obviously didn’t affect me then so I don’t think it’s going to affect me now.”
Umpires now have the power to send violent players from the field, either temporarily or permanently, and award penalty runs to the opposition.
Don’t expect players to be frequently dismissed from the field however – the new measures are only in place for serious offences.
Threatening to assault an umpire, making inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with an umpire, physically assaulting a player or any other person and committing any other act of violence all constitute the most serious (level four) offence and will result in a player being banished from the field for the rest of the match.
Level one and two offences can result in penalty runs, while officials can send a player off temporarily for a level three offences.
Should such an incident occur, keep an eye out for a couple of brand new signals umpires have added to their repertoire.
When a player is being sent from the field – either permanently or temporarily – umpires must put an arm out to the side of their body and repeatedly raise and lower it.