Melbourne, Feb 18: South African cricket legend Barry Richards Wednesday called on authorities to legalise ball tampering as a way to redress what he believes is unfair imbalance between bat and ball in the modern game.
Richards, regarded as one of the greatest South African players of all time, says he fears for the game's future if the trend of bat dominating ball continues, reports cricket.com.au.
"All I want is a 50-50 contest, which it is not now. If it continues the way it is, kids will only want to bat. There will be no bowlers and the game will decline," Richards said.
A powerful right-hander who averaged almost 55 in first class cricket, Richards says today's batsmen have it far too easy and he's called on the game's administrators to do something about it.
"Reverse swing is an art. Let the bowlers rub the ball in the dirt if they want because not all bowlers can produce reverse swing. Maybe in one-day cricket you could let the better bowlers bowl 25 of the 50 overs, but only two bowlers are nominated before the start to bowl those overs."
Richards played his only four Tests for South Africa in 1970, averaging over 70, before the country's sporting isolation forced him to spend most of his career - with great success - in domestic leagues in his homeland, England and Australia.
He said placing restrictions on bat making and relaxing rules regarding leg-side bowling are just some of the measures that could be introduced to even up the contest.
"The pressing of cricket bats also has to be controlled and the thickness in their edges. Maybe there can also be a designated sweet spot area for bats, ours used to be about the size of a 50 cent piece but now they are much bigger," he added.
"You could also relax cricket's leg-side rules a bit. These are just a few of my ideas, because batsmen have it too easy these days."
The power of modern bats and the advent of Twenty20 cricket has contributed to several batting records being broken in recent years.
Last month, South Africa captain AB de Villiers smashed the record for the fastest ODI century, his mark of 31 balls surpassing the record of 36 set by New Zealand's Corey Anderson in 2014.
And last year, India's Rohit Sharma registered the highest score in One-Day International (ODI) cricket, 264 from 173 balls against Sri Lanka in Kolkata.
All four ODI double centuries have been scored this decade. The modern trend of high scoring has continued in the early stages of this World Cup, with the first five matches of the tournament featuring first innings scores in excess of 300.
A total of 57 sixes have been hit in six matches so far, an average of just under 10 per match.
Richards's countryman David Richardson, the International Cricket Council's chief executive, recently brought up the topic of bat-making and said the issue would be discussed at the ICC's cricket committee meeting in May.
Any law changes would have to be made in consultation with the MCC, cricket's official law makers.
In July, the MCC's World Cricket Committee - a 14-person panel of former and current players, of which Richards used to be a member - decided against placing any restrictions on bat sizes.