Twenty20: The Rules
The rules of Twenty20 cricket have been specifically designed to optimize the entertainment value of the game being played in the middle. The idea is to provide maximum action in the shortest time possible. With this in mind the ICC (International Cricket Council) drew up the ‘Standard Twenty20 International Match playing Conditions’, which is essentially a dedicated set of rules and amendments for the Twenty20 format and was made effective from the 4th of July, 2006.
Generally, the Laws of Cricket apply to Twenty20 with certain exceptions and amendments. As the name suggests a Twenty20 game typically consists of 20 overs per side, that is to say that each batting side will only get 20 overs to bat. An entire Twenty20 game is supposed to be finished under three hours, which essentially gives a time limit of 75mins per innings with half an hour of break in between. Sticking to the time limit is crucial to the idea of Twenty20 cricket. The games are supposed to be short and action packed. Thus adherence to these time limits is mandatory and bounding on both teams.
This gives the bowlers on the bowling side an average of 3mins 45secs to get each of their overs through. The batsmen on the other hand must be ready to take guard within 90secs of the fall of the previous wicket. Time wasting by either side can be penalized subject to the discretion of the umpire. A penalty of five runs can be added to the total of the batting side if it is felt that the bowling side is guilty of wasting time. On the other hand five runs can be deducted from the batting total if it is found that the batting side is guilty of time wasting. Consequently the umpire can also add extra time to the innings if the batsmen are responsible for any kind of delays.
In a typical Twenty20 game, without any interruptions, the bowlers on the bowling side get to bowl a maximum of 4 overs each. However, if the bowling side fails to bowl its quota of 20 overs within the 75 minutes, depending on the umpire’s discretion, the bowling side can be penalized six runs for every whole over bowled after the 75th minute.
As far as fielding restrictions are concerned the first six overs of each innings is protected, i.e. the bowling side can only have a maximum of two fielders outside the 30-yard circle. Thereafter a maximum of five fielders can be outside the circle. Also at no point of time during the course of the game shall there be more than five fielders on the leg side. As one can guess from the above fielding restrictions that the Twenty20 format encourages the batsmen to go for the big boundaries. The batting side no doubt has to score fast given that it has only 20 overs to do the scoring in but the fielding restrictions give the batsmen extra incentive to go for the big shots. Hence much to the crowd’s enjoyment a typical Twenty20 game is full of big hitting and riddled with 6’s and 4’s.
Another interesting amendment to the cricketing rules as far as Twenty20 is concerned is the ‘no-ball free-hit rule’. Should a bowler deliver a no-ball by overstepping the popping crease, it will cost the bowling side 2 runs and the very next delivery will be designated as a ‘free hit’, from which the batsman can only be dismissed through a run out, for obstructing the field or for handling the ball.
But the most interesting Twenty20 rule has got to be the ‘bowl out’. In case of a tie at the end of the second innings, the winner of the match is decided by a ‘bowl out’, which is similar to a penalty shootout in football. Five bowlers from each side get to bowl two deliveries at an unguarded wicket. The objective is to knock down the wicket the maximum number of times. If the number of wickets is the same after the first ten deliveries from each side, then the bowling continues and the winner is decided through sudden death.
All in all as mentioned before the rules of Twenty20 have been designed with the aim of maximizing the entertainment value and excitement in the game of cricket. The idea is to make the game shorter and more fun, all the while trying to provide something different for the cricket lover.