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Jaohannesburg – Lions' captain Stephen Cook believes the One-Day Cup will be influenced by recent rule changes to the limited overs format, with cricket teams having to adapt to the new conditions.
“It's caused a bit of a rethink,” Cook said ahead of the domestic one-day competition, which starts on Friday.
“Twenty20 cricket started and everyone said: 'This is not for the spinners'. Twenty20 cricket is almost dominated by spin now in a lot of ways. Maybe teams are going to take the pace off the ball. We are going to have to see.”
The new rules result in the three power plays being reduced to two, with 10 overs at the start of the innings and a five-over period chosen by the batting captain.
Bowlers are allowed to deliver two bouncers an over instead of one, while in non-powerplay overs, only four fielders will be allowed outside the inner ring.
“It can go one of two ways, and it will be interesting to see how it pans out,” Cook said.
“I don't think anyone can truly say how it will work out. Some will say on a good wicket the scores might increase, having an extra guy in the ring, but sometimes that builds the pressure.
“You've seen in powerplays how often wickets fall in little clusters, so in a way it's an enforced powerplay for a longer period of time.”
For Knights' captain Morne van Wyk, the added short ball was an opportunity to make runs, although its effectiveness depended on how the bowlers utilised the opportunity.
“It depends how you play. I see the short ball as a scoring opportunity but it's going to come down to how the bowlers use it,” the former Proteas' batsman said.
“They brought in that rule to give the bowlers a little bit more ammunition, because I think with the onset of T20 cricket, the skill set of batsmen has developed so much.”
Van Wyk said there were many players, younger ones especially, who had come through the system, whose ability to score off the short ball had been curtailed by bowlers being allowed to only send down one an over.
“They don’t have to play it that well because they know they can only get one an over and the ball might be old, so they try to get it out of the way,” he said.
“Then they’re all right, 'next time it’s got to be in my half'... so at least it can put a little bit of doubt in a batsman’s mind as to when that next bouncer is going to come.
“Getting out of the way of a short ball is one thing, and most guys can do that well, but not everybody can score very well off a short ball, especially when two guys are out. So it's something to consider.”
With South Africa having experienced quite a wet spring, particularly at the coast, the weather has affected the franchises' preparation.
For Dolphins' captain Daryn Smit, the weather was the only aspect of the pre-season build-up he was not pleased about.
New coach Lance Klusener was bringing a different mental approach to the Durban-based franchise.
“The general mood in the camp is brilliant. I think we’ve started off the season playing some really good cricket,” the skipper said.
“Lance’s big goal taking over as coach is to change the whole mindset and energy within in the team, and certainly that’s worked well so far, with me as captain to drive it on the field, to get that passion back.
“It’s looking really good and I just hope we can get some good weather, spend time out there in the middle and show what good is actually happening there at the moment.”
The competition begins on Friday when the Highveld Lions travel to Centurion to face the Titans. On Sunday, the Knights host the Warriors in Bloemfontein, and the Cobras square off against the Dolphins in Pietermaritzburg. – Sapa