London: The days when an English cricket team captain could take the fear out of a lively wicket by using a heavy roller are numbered.
In a bid to resuscitate the ailing county championship, English cricket administrators have unveiled rule changes that ban the big rollers and reward wins rather than boring draws.
Heavy rollers have been the bane of bowlers for more than a century, since killing the grass hardens the surface. This can take the sting out of a team's bowling attack, stopping uneven or fast bouncing and providing great assistance to batsmen at the crease.
While that can ensure matches go the distance — helping cash-strapped counties bring in revenue — the result is not always crowd-pleasing. Friday's announcement by the England and Wales Cricket Board should liven up proceedings.
"Heavy rollers deaden the pitch. If a captain wants to take some life out of the game then he will use heavy rollers to do so," David Lloyd, who has formerly played for England and coached the national team, said earlier this year.
"If there is a certain length of grass on top, it acts like a trampoline, which gives you pace and bounce. That's what every cricketer wants, whether they are a spinner, a pace bowler or a batsman."
The ECB changes will also see teams awarded 16 points for a win — up from 14 — and just three for a draw — down from four.
A maximum of five additional batting points and three additional bowling points are still available during each side's first innings, but the threshold has been reduced from 120 to 110.