ICC news December 17, 2008

ICC looks to build on Chennai's feel-good momentum

Cricinfo staff

Australian captain Ricky Ponting courted controversy in the Nagpur Test against India in November for his team's slow over-rates © Getty Images

The ICC has asked all its match referees and umpires to be "assertive and proactive" in dealing with slow over-rates and verbal abuse as it looks to build on the "feel-good factor" that cricket has gained with the thrilling Chennai Test between India and England. It is also looking at options to impose stronger penalties against offending teams.

"After the recent Test match in Chennai, there is a real feel-good factor about the game," the ICC's chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, said. "Verbal abuse and slow over-rates have the potential to impact negatively on the way the game is perceived. Both issues need to be strongly managed and the ICC is now looking at options to encourage better over-rates and strengthened sanctions against offending teams."

The issue of slow over-rates had been the subject of debate during the Test series between India and Australia in October, when Ricky Ponting, the Australian captain, was forced to bowl his part-time bowlers in a crucial phase of the fourth Test in Nagpur to avoid sanctions from match officials. Indian newspapers reported on Wednesday that Chris Broad, the match referee for the series, had, in his official series report to the ICC, put some of the blame for those delays on Indian batsmen.

The Indian dailies, the Hindustan Times and Deccan Herald, reported that Broad also blamed both captains for being involved in long discussions with fielders and bowlers, and batsmen and fielders for "spending an age" in putting on protective equipment and taking additional drinks breaks.

"The Indian batsmen were constantly slow in getting onto the field at the fall of a wicket, therefore affecting the slow over-rate," the reports quoted Broad as writing. "No matter how many times I asked for them to hurry up, it seemed to go in one ear and out the other without registering.

"Not once during the series did we finish a day's play on time at 4.30 pm. On most occasions, the additional half hour was used and we also lost a number of overs from the game that could not be bowled."

Broad was also critical of facilities, especially of handling of movement around the sightscreen, in Mohali, which hosted a Test during the India-Australia series and is the venue for the next match between India and England. "This is the biggest headache in moving the game forward as no sooner do we get the game flowing does somebody gets up and either walks in front of the screens or stands up over the screens when the bowling is from that end," he wrote. "No matter what is said to the ground authorities, it seems impossible to stop people moving! I am at my wit's end!!!" Broad also said the location of the match referee's room at the stadium was not ideal, while stating he rejected the first two options provided to him.

IS Bindra, the president of the Punjab Cricket Association, said the sightscreen issue had been rectified. "I think it was minor aberration in a five-day affair. But at the same time, it should not be repeated," he told PTI. "Besides, we have installed mega-sized sightscreen this time, even though it cost us some 500-60 seats."