March 29, 2010

Indian Premier League

The IPL's ridiculous over-rate fines

Aakash Chopra


Kumar Sangakkara might not have a problem in paying $110k, but the Indian recruits are likely to feel the pinch © Indian Premier League
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This was perhaps in the offing. Kumar Sangakkara’s ban for a match didn’t really take me by surprise. After being penalized twice in five games for the same offence, the third faux pas just had to be dealt with severely. Yet, it would be too naive for us to take this slip-up as just that. Had it been the case, the mammoth fine of $140,000 would’ve undoubtedly served as a good enough deterrent. Perhaps, there is more to the story than what meets the eye.

Since it takes only four minutes to finish an over, 80 minutes should be enough to finish 20. Two strategic time outs of 2.5 minutes each should then settle the innings at around 85 minutes in total. This time span becomes lesser, if you happen to have spinners in the side, bowling at less than three minutes an over.

But what’s transpiring on the field is quite the opposite. As many as four captains have already been fined once for slow over-rate. This tells us that the estimations aren’t as clear-cut as they sound, at least not in this format. While T20 runs at its own rapid pace, there’s always the danger of a captain going with the flow. But if the captain allows that to happen, the team is doomed. He needs to break the momentum at regular intervals to ensure that the opposition doesn’t run away with the game. And that’s where the problem starts.

Most bowlers take a few extra minutes at the start of a spell, to warm-up, get the run-up and think right, which they make up for in the following overs. Unlike 50-over cricket, where bowlers get to bowl longer spells, in T20, bowling changes are introduced after every couple of overs, which in turn is not always easy on them. While most bowlers mark their run-ups in advance, it’s only natural to be 100% sure every time they start a new spell. Because one no-ball followed by a free-hit can change the complexion of the game. Also, most teams have at least three-four quick bowlers who take a lot more time than the spinners. In ODIs, longer spells from spinners make up for the extra time consumed by the quick bowlers, but four-over spells in T20 are not enough.

To add to a captain’s woes, the noise in the stadium makes it almost impossible for him to convey messages to his out-fielders. But you can also not have the fielders in the right place. Hence, the field change too consumes another couple of crucial minutes. I won’t be surprised if Sangakkara has had a quiet word with the DJ in Mohali to avoid further penalties. Slow over-rate might have an explanation or two; unfortunately it doesn’t have any real solution, except of course running between the overs and even the deliveries.

While a fine is perhaps the only way to book the guilty, the flip side of it baffles me. The third offence not only led to Sangakkara's ban but also another whopping fine of $250,000. Sangakkara might not have a problem in paying $110k ($20k for the first offence and $40k & $50k for the other two), others in the team, especially the local Indian recruits are sure to feel the pinch shelling out $30,000 each. Some of them are earning no more than a few lakhs for the entire tournament and if they happened to be fined twice, they may take home nothing. One more offence and these players will have to pay from their pockets to play in the IPL. Most franchisees would happily pay the fine, but it’s only a gesture. Since they are not forced to pay, one cannot really hold it against them if they decide otherwise.

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Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by sixnout on (April 4, 2010, 18:02 GMT)

The more I read about Akash's blogs the more I appreciate the sane mind and articulate young man he is. This article has hit the nail firmly on the head when he talks about the domestic players. There is a compassion,a definite warmth in his articles. This is very similar to Harsha's columns before he became another spokesman for IPL. Its great to read such columns with its heart in the right place.

Keep it up, Akash.

Posted by Sagar on (April 1, 2010, 5:41 GMT)

On the Contrary if match is finished before time IPL should pay to captain.....

Posted by Mossman on (March 31, 2010, 8:25 GMT)

Absolutely ridiculous. No T20 domestic games in Australia are crammed into such a short time, even in local cricket competitions. 80 or 85 or 90 or 100 minutes, who among the viewing public cares as long as it's an exciting game? (But as some have pointed out, perhaps the TV stations and their advertisers care, and that might be the cause of the absurd fines.) And Ajit, it's 'cue' not 'queue'.

Posted by Uday on (March 31, 2010, 6:44 GMT)

Does time out really helps? Move it and give liberty to teams and extend time

Posted by kethees on (March 30, 2010, 13:23 GMT)

cricket is moving from sports to business. Its all about making money, take any movement of IPL management its all about business. Cricket is a game which is played for 5 days and still finish without win or lose and the same game have these time limit rules. I know test and T20 are two different formats but CRICKET is cricket. 11 fielders and two batsmen. T20 is an exiting format but made for business not for the benifit of the game.

Posted by vihang on (March 30, 2010, 12:20 GMT)

Fining all the players in the team for slow over completion is rather absurd. And I doubt this is the end of the slow over rates fines to be delivered in this tournament. Should it play out the way I think it is going to, at some point some team is going to end up with enough blanket fines to put some players literally in the red (paying more in fines than they make from their franchise). If that is the case, either the franchise is simply going to have to step in to cover those fines, or these players will probably simply not play the next IPL. And if the franchise dangles their contracts in front of them to force them to play, the players will probably just sue the franchise. After all, the moment this became a contractual money fest (even more so than things usually are), it stands to reason that players will choose to seek legal redressal of an unfair contract term. As such, I do not see how this fining mechanism could survive the market economy, that the ipl so likes to exploit.

Posted by Cameron on (March 30, 2010, 10:36 GMT)

I think the IPL bubble is on it's way to bursting. Citi moments of success, max mobile time outs, dlf maximums. Terrible team kits (sorry but they are horrible), boundary after boundary. I'm getting sleepy writing this. This American type sports model for cricket isn't right. The hype will go away and I may be wrong but the IPL with it. It's boring. Why fine a guy such a huge fee in a game where you can take time out? Stupid. Is there anything exciting about the IPL at all. Not for me.

Posted by praveen kumar on (March 30, 2010, 10:21 GMT)

good point aakash. the amount of fine is not a big deal as they r also earning more but it should be respective of their personal match fee. so the fine should be in % of match fee such that everyone is feeling the same heat. the pace of game is the beauty of T20 so fines should be severe but why fine those who r guiltless. many a time the root cause of delay is not captain. there are delays due to sidescreen problem, more wicket fall, 3rd umpire reffers, injuries and the unneccessary talks between the batsman. so there should be a soccer type system where another umpire or referry is keeping track of the time lost not because of the fielding team faults.

Posted by Sukhdev Singh on (March 30, 2010, 9:43 GMT)

Twenty-20 should be an enjoyable game.Everyone knows that players are already under tension.The captains are much worse.So such ridiculous fines serve no purpose except increasing the bank balance of BCCI.All the captains should protest together.At the end of day they have to take something home.After all people have come for enjoyment and DJ cann't be stopped.Planning takes a lot of time.Every ball has to be carefully bowled.There could be some nagative points system just like fair play award to motivate players.But money at no cost is acceptable.

Posted by Keith on (March 30, 2010, 9:31 GMT)

There is no reason why 20 overs should not be completed within the time limits, barring injuries, multiple lost balls, or time wasting by the batsmen. The batsman should be ready when the bowler reaches the end of his run-up, and should have a warning for the first offence, and then be given out for time wasting on the second offence (similar to a bowler bowling 2 balls above waist height). There is no reason for mid-pitch conferences by the batsmen every couple of deliveries. Go back 30 years and the over rates were 18 to the hour, and even earlier they were still higher. With all this so-called professionalism these days and super-fit players with training schedules and gyms, 15 overs an hour should be a breeze.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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