The Hockey India League is almost a third of the way through the 2016 edition. This year has seen a new innovation which was designed to encourage players to have more attempts on goal rather than force a penalty corner, a field goal being worth two goals as opposed to the regular one goal. A penalty corner is still worth the lone goal.
There is no doubt that it has changed the way the game is being played. Some teams are still opting to take the penalty corner if there is no other option, but teams are definitely looking to score field goals wherever possible.
So as a concept nine matches in you would have to say that it is a success.
There are problems however. For a start a game in which 5 goals were scored, four from field goals and the additional goal from a penalty stroke, also worth two goals as the impeded player was clear on goal when fouled, ends up with a massive 10 goal scoreline. This happened as the Kalinga Lancers dismantled competition favourites the Uttar Pradesh Wizards 2-10.
If a viewer switches on the television and sees a ten goal scoreline they will assume the game is all over. Even a scoreline of 4-1 they may keep flicking channels, yet in reality the team that is losing would only need two field goals to take the lead.
The other issue is whether the goal scorers should be credited with two goals or one? Common-sense would say that they should still only be credited with one goal as they have only scored one, it just happens to be valued at 2 goals. This way the record books will record accurately how many actual goals a player has scored as opposed to the value of the goals he has scored.
Case in point Australian Glenn Turner has scored 5 goals for the Kalinga Lancers in 2016 worth 10 goals. Does that make him Kalinga’s top scorer of all time, when Argentinean Gonzalo Peillat had scored 8 goals before the new rule came in?
Talking to the players they very much feel that the record should show the number of goals scored and not the value.
It has been an interesting tournament to see how teams react to the new rule. Trailing by a goal there is the added incentive to score a field goal and steal victory. Teams have adapted the penalty corner routine to try and score a field goal worth two as opposed to a single goal, and no doubt there will be more innovation from coaches and players in the tournament ahead.
One can see why Hockey India looked to try and take the emphasis away from the penalty corner, but in reality more field goals have been scored than penalty corners in the last two editions. For example in 2015, 139 goals were scored 55 were from penalty corners, 80 from Field Goals and there were 4 penalty strokes.
The question is should this rule be adopted across the board just as the four quarter rule has replaced the traditional two halves? Or should a bonus point be awarded to teams who score more than four goals in a match? This could have an impact on where they finish on the league table and whether they make the finals or not.
Time will tell, but we would welcome the thoughts of all hockey fans.