Stronger rules needed to check slow over rates: WisdenApril 9th, 2009 - 5:05 pm ICT by IANS
Sydney, April 9 (IANS) Cricketing Bible Wisden has come out with a solution to check the dawdling pace of Test cricket.
Teams and captains have been repeatedly warned and fined for failing to maintain the over rate, but the problem continues.
“The way to win a cricketer’s compliance is not through his wallet but his stomach,” according to Wisden.
In the latest, and 146th, edition of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, editor Scyld Berry decries what he terms the “funereal pace” of Test cricket and suggests keeping the fielding side on the field until 30 overs have been bowled.
“The ICC should adopt this adage: the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” Berry writes, suggesting that fielding sides who drag out play would soon become unpopular with umpires who would miss out on putting their feet up, commentators who want their lunch and caterers who want to sell theirs.
In 2008, the average Test over-rate was down to 13.79 overs an hour.
“It’s appalling that over rates around the world haven’t reached even 14 an hour for so long,” Berry was quoted as saying in Sydney Morning Herald.
However, Berry feels it’s not just players, particularly captains, who are to blame. He gave the instance of play being disrupted when England played India in Chennai so that a banana could be brought out for umpire Billy Bowden.
Berry argues that during play, the boundaries should be sealed, with no one entering or leaving the field in anything other than exceptional circumstances.
Although, in many instances, time is made up at the end of the day, that only increases the demands on spectators. Berry points out it is frequently not possible in the tropics, where daylight hours are limited.
“It needs to start with each board sitting their captain down and telling them, ‘Your job is going to be in jeopardy if you don’t maintain the over rate’,” he said.
“And the ICC needs to sit the umpires down and say, ‘It’s your job to maintain the tempo. This faffing around, talking between overs, has got to stop’.”
Ricky Ponting found himself facing suspension during last year’s Test series against India for slow over rates. In the Nagpur Test, Ponting bowled part-timers to run through the overs - effectively throwing away the chance to win the game.
“Surely the original problem is that he was indecisive earlier in the game. A captain who knows his own mind is going to waste less time. He got into trouble because he wasn’t sure of his tactics and strategy,” Berry said.
But commentator and former coach of Pakistan Geoff Lawson thinks the argument doesn’t stand up.
“I’ve just been in South Africa and witnessed some pretty good cricket and I did not hear anybody talk about over rates once,” he said.
“It became less of an issue in the last six months. Australia have played six Tests, six results and five of those were in the last day.”
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