ODI cricket is a form of game that has had many changes to its rule since its inception in 1972. The first ODI cricket world cup was played in the 60-over format and continued to be the same for 2 more world cups before moving to the now traditional 50-over format. Since then, the teams have played the elongated short form of cricket in 50 overs but many rules have changed over the course of time.
Initially, even the ODI game was played in whites like the Test matches, and colored clothing was preferred only during world events or multi-national tournaments. One such important rule that has undergone many times over the last 2 decades or so is the powerplays.
What is a Powerplay?
Powerplay in cricket is nothing but a rule where there are only a specific number of fielders from a bowling side can be outside the 30-yard circle. In short, we can say it is a set of fielding restrictions enforced on the side that is bowling. So at all times, a minimum stipulated number of fielders should be inside the 30-yard circle, and failing to do so will result in deeming the ball a no-ball, and the umpires will be obliged to call it the same.
Also Read: The Cricket Fielding Positions – Explained
What is the Current Powerplay Rules in One-day Cricket?
As per the current laws directed by the cricket’s apex body the International Cricket Council (ICC), the powerplay in ODIs is split into 3 phases: early, middle-overs, and end-overs.
In a 50 overs a side game, the first 10 overs will have the long followed powerplay setup wherein only 2 fielders can be placed outside the 30-yard circle and close to the boundary line. So as many 7 fielders apart from the wicket-keeper and bowler, should be inside the circle in the 60-ball period.
In the next phase of an ODI game, that is between overs 11-40 of batting innings, 2 extra fielders can stand outside the 30-yard circle. A short description is that a minimum of 5 fielders apart from a keeper and bowler should be fielding inside the circle. However, it doesn’t mean there should be 4 boundary riders during this phase at all times. A captain of the fielding team can choose to field more than 5 fielders inside the circle as well.
The end-overs comprise of phase between overs 41-50 of ODI innings and this is where the batting team tends to cash in on the start they got in the first 40 overs of the innings. So in this particular interval, the fielding team is allowed to have a maximum of 5 fielders outside the circle and the rest of them should be inside at all times. This is the current powerplay rule that is in effect since the last rule change related to powerplay in 2015.
The History of ODI Powerplay Fielding Restriction Rules
But there have been numerous modifications in the past decade or 2 by the ICC with respect to powerplays in ODI cricket. We will learn some of the old field restriction rules pertaining to this middling format of the game.
The first major rule regarding this usage of mandatory usage of a minimum number of fielders inside the circle came into effect around the ICC Cricket World Cup 1992 that was held in Australia. At that time, the ICC rule permitted the usage of a maximum of 2 fielders outside the 30-yard circle for a period of the first 15 overs, not now prevalent for 10 overs. And for the rest of the innings (between overs 16-50), a maximum of 5 fielders were allowed outside the circle.
But the term powerplays was not coined just yet and this fielding restriction rule was followed by the ICC in the ODI form of the game until 2005. In the year 2005, ICC amended a rule known as the powerplay and it was split down into 3 phases of an ODI inning. A mandatory first 10-over period where the fielding team gets to have only 2 fielders beyond the 30-yard circle and then there would be 2 five-over phases period of powerplays that gets to be chosen by the fielding as per their wish and here again only 2 fielders will be allowed outside the circle. They can use it immediately after the 10-over period or any time in the bowling innings.
A minor tweak to the rule was followed in 2008 to bring excitement to the game in the middle-overs. In the previous version of the powerplay, after the mandatory phase, the fielding team gets to choose 2 more 5-over powerplay periods as per choice and in the 2008 rule change, ICC gave a ruling that one of the two 5-over powerplay phases shall be awarded to the batting side. Meaning that the batting side will now get to name a 5-over period of powerplay at their preference.
This amendment was also shortlived as the ICC felt that batting teams get undue advantage with the fielding restrictions in place, especially when it comes to the end overs. The usual trend back then was that the batting team chose to have their share of the 5-over powerplay period in the death overs and having only 2 fielders outside the circle in the last 5 or 10 overs will be nerve-wracking as far as the bowling side is concerned.
So in the year 2011, ICC regularized the usage of batting powerplay giving some form of relief to the bowling captains and the bowlers. In this rule change, the cricket board mandated that batting teams will have to strictly use their stipulated powerplays with the overs 16 to 36, ie there won’t be any powerplay fielding restrictions 40-over mark in ODI cricket.
Another change was made just over a year later in October 2012, when ICC limited the number of powerplays to 2 as opposed to 3 in its previous versions. Apart from the usual first 10-overs mandatory powerplay, there will be only one period of the 5-over powerplay phase that should be completed before the start of the 41st over. However, a fielding team can now have only 4 fielders outside the ring in the non-powerplay overs (41-50) as opposed to 5 in the previous case.
This rule was in effect till the year 2015 when ICC once again regularised the powerplay laws and now existent 3-phase powerplay laws were put in place.