The popular perception is that like Test cricket,
the limited-overs version was first played on a
regular basis in England. However, this is not
true. Limited-overs cricket was first played in
Mumbai with the inception of the Talim Shield
Cricket Tournament. England took it up much later,
with the inter-County Gillette Cup instituted in
1963. The one-day game rapidly gained momentum, and
the first one-day 'international' was played
between England and Australia in 1970-71. England
hosted the inaugural World Cup in 1975. The matches
were played in traditional whites with the
customary red cherry.
Congregation in the
infield - The Australians celebrate their victory
the 2003 World Cup final,
the Indians rue their loss.
transformation of the sport commenced in 1977 when
Kerry Packer, an Australian media tycoon, formed a
parallel world association called World Series
Cricket and introduced white balls, coloured night
cricket, night cricket and black sightscreens. The
umpires were given coloured jackets / shirts. An
integral aspect of this cricket revolution was the
presence of fifty leading cricketers from
Australia, West Indies, England, Pakistan and South
Africa. Packer also roped in the likes of Sir
Garfield Sobers and Richie Benaud to suggest and
formulate new rules to make the cricket more
The duo came up with the idea of having a fielding
'circle' that gave more latitude to the batsmen and
prevented negative cricket by the fielding side.
This particular circle is still in use.
This 'circle' is formed out of two semi-circles,
one at each end. The semi-circle at each end curves
from point to square-leg behind the line of the
stumps. It has a radius of thirty yards from the
middle-stump at that end. The ends of the two
semi-circles on the same side of the pitch are
joined by a straight line. From the point of view
of a right-handed batsman for instance, the end of
the semi-circle situated on the off-side at one end
will be joined to the end of the semi-circle on the
leg-side at the other end.
Martin Crowe - violated
the rule unintentionally, apologised promptly.
'oblong' circle is marked by a continuous white
line, or white rubber or plastic discs placed every
five yards. The use of metal discs is not
At Gwalior on the eve of the fifth ODI between
England and India in 1992-93, the groundsman had
placed white circular discs made of thermocol on
the circle. There was a strong possibility of a
fielder tripping if he were to step on one of
these. Moreover, the ball could either bounce or
change direction if it hit the discs. My colleague
and I therefore had them removed and got the
groundstaff to chalk a line indicating the circle.
Only two fielders are permitted to stand outside
the circle in the first 15 overs of a 50-over game.
A maximum of five fielders are permitted to stand
outside the circle after the 15th over. This
15-over restriction is proportionately reduced when
the number of overs is reduced. It generally stands
for approximately one-third of the total number of
overs to be bowled. So, if the match is a
40-overs-a-side affair, the restriction lasts for
There is also a 'circle within the circle', which
was devised with the close-catchers in mind. It is
marked at a radius of 15 yards measured from the
centre of the popping crease on the middle-stump
line at either end. Small dots (no discs) are drawn
to mark this inner circle from gully to leg-gully.
It is mandatory to have two fielders within this
inner circle in the first 15 overs. These fielders
have to be stationary. If a fast bowler is
operating, the umpires will allow the slip-fielders
or the gully or leg-gully to stand a little deeper,
even outside this inner circle. Two fielders, or
rather, 'catchers' can stand anywhere within the
inner circle, except on the pitch.
This inner circle wasn't marked during my umpiring
days. Hence, the square-leg umpire had to be
extra-vigilant to ensure that two men were standing
close to the bat. The batsman himself would point
out an erring fielder occasionally.
I remember pointing out to Kiwi great Martin Crowe
that he was not remaining stationary at the short
mid-on position during the 1992 World Cup. This
happened a couple of times. He was quick to
apologise for the lapse.
Both these restrictions (30-yard as well as l5
yard) have to be observed from the moment the
bowler starts his run-up, or from the time he
starts his bowling action.
If there is an infringement, the square-leg umpire
will call and signal a 'no-ball'.
Another field restriction concerns the number of
fielders on the leg-side. Not more than five are
allowed, of which not more than two are allowed to
stand behind the popping crease. This restriction
applies to the entire innings.