Thursday, March 05, 2015

A Timeline of ODI Rule Changes

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of rule changes. The focus is mainly on changes in fielding restrictions, as well as ball changes, scoring of no-balls, and bouncer limits.

As you read through, you'll notice there are several gaps, indicated by question marks, where I simply don't know when a particular rule was introduced. Information from 2005 onwards is readily available, but prior to that it isn't easy to verify. Any help with this is greatly appreciated.

Fielding Restrictions

1983 – After the 1983 World Cup the ICC decided that only three fielders could be placed outside the 30-yard circle in the first fifteen overs. (Source)

This raises two questions:

1) Were there any fielding restrictions at all prior to this?
2) If not, what was the point of having a 30-yard circle?

???? – At some point it was established that you had to have at least four fielders inside the ring (or equivalently, no more than five outside the ring). This was definitely in place at least as early as the 1986 Australasia Cup because in clips from the final you can see Miandad pointing and counting while surveying the field towards the end of the game.

1992(?) – Only two fielders could be placed outside the 30-yard circle in the first fifteen overs.

???? – The rule about having 2 close-in catching fielders at all times in the first fifteen overs (or was it the first six/seven only?) was established at some point in the 90s.

2005 – Powerplays were introduced starting with the first match of the NatWest Challenge between England and Australia on July 7.

Powerplay 1: Applied to overs 1-10. Same rules as what was in place for the first fifteen overs at that time i.e. only two fielders allowed outside the 30-yard circle, and two close catchers needed.

Powerplay 2 and 3: Two additional blocks of five overs each, which could be taken at any point after the 10th over at the discretion of the fielding captain. Only two fielders were allowed outside the 30-yard circle, while the two close catchers were not mandatory. (Source)

2007 – Number of fielders allowed outside the 30-yard circle was increased from two to three for the second and third Powerplay. (Source)
Update March 31, 2015: Effective October 1, the number of fielders allowed outside the 30-yard circle was increased from two to three in EITHER the 2nd OR 3rd Powerplay, the idea being it would help the spinners. (See the notes in the ball-by-ball commentary here)

2008 – Starting with the one-day series between New Zealand and Bangladesh in October, the batting team was allowed to decide when to introduce either the second or the third Powerplay. In other words the fielding and batting team each got one Powerplay. (Source)

2011 – Effective October 1, the five-over bowling and batting Powerplays could be taken after 15 overs, and had to be completed by the 40th over. Previously teams could take the Powerplays at any time after the 10th over. (Source)

2012 – Effective October 30, the bowling Powerplay was scrapped. The batting Powerplay had to be completed by the 40th over (so theoretically it could be taken immediately after the 10th over, which wasn't allowed under the rule changes in 2011). No more than two fielders were allowed outside the 30-yard circle in the first Powerplay, and no more than three in the second. Additionally, the number of fielders allowed outside the 30-yard circle during non-Powerplay overs was reduced from five to four. (Source)

Update June 27, 2015:
2015 – Starting July 5, the ICC has gotten rid of the batting Powerplay. With the removal of the bowling Powerplay in 2012, this means we're now just left with the initial Powerplay block of 10 overs. Only two fielders can be outside the 30-yard circle in the first 10 overs, while teams no longer have to have two close-in catching fielders in this period. (Except for the fact that the initial set is 10 overs and not 15, this is how things were in the early to mid-1990s.) Between the 11th and 40th overs, the fielding team is allowed a maximum of four fielders outside the ring. And from overs 41 to 50, teams can have an additional fifth fielder outside the ring. (Source)

Ball Changes

2007 - Mandatory ball change after 35 overs. (Which ODI was the first to feature this rule? See March 31, 2015 update above.) Prior to this, umpires would change the ball at their discretion, either when it became too discolored or lost shape. (Source: see Fielding Restrictions, 2007)

2011 – Current rules. Two new balls from each end, effective October 1. (Source: see Fielding Restrictions, 2011)


???? – Originally if you scored any runs off a no-ball (or wides) you didn’t get an extra run for the no-ball. This was introduced starting when?

2007 – Free hit after front-foot no-ball. (Source: see Fielding Restrictions, 2007)

2015 – Free hits will be awarded for all no-balls, not just when bowlers overstep. (Source: see Fielding Restrictions, 2015)


???? – While initially there was no limit on bouncers(?), they were completely disallowed at some point. Bowling a bouncer resulted in a no-ball.

2001 – Bowlers were allowed one bouncer per over. (Source)

2012 – Current rules. Bowlers are allowed two bouncers per over. (Source: see Fielding Restrictions, 2012)

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