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'Bowl your overs faster or play in worse conditions'
Mark Nicholas and Daryl Harper on the inter-related issues of slow over rates and the light rule in Test cricket (41:33)
Producer: Raunak Kapoor
August 30, 2013
Related Links » News: 'Award the opposition ten runs per over' | Bad light denies England as Ashes ignite | ECB chairman calls for light ruling change Players/Officials: Daryl Harper | Mark Nicholas Matches: England v Australia at The Oval Series/Tournaments: Australia tour of England and Scotland Teams: Australia | England
'Bowl your overs faster or play in worse conditions'August 30, 2013
Excerpts from the discussion below. The numbers in brackets are the duration for each segment
Are you happy with the light-meter rule or do you prefer to leave it in the hands of the people in the centre? At what point do the umpires decide they need to take a light-meter reading? How do you set that initial mark? (3.20 - 5.33)
Daryl Harper: I'd rather prefer the system as it is. There are only two people that don't have an emotional impact regarding the result of a game and they are the two umpires, and they are the best people to judge, especially when they've got meters synchronised by experts.
The two umpires got together [at The Oval, in the fifth Test] and considered that the conditions were dangerous, so they thought it was unreasonable to continue. They would have been considering the quick bowlers bowling for Australia, and they would have been considering the background light, the value of the sightscreens, simply the total atmosphere looking at each end of the ground, and they would have determined it was unfit to play and they would have then taken their benchmark.
It appeared to me that the umpires used a lot of common sense and continued play on day five long after the light had deteriorated because I think both teams were still keen for a victory. The umpires just bent the rules a little bit and allowed the game to continue before Michael Clarke realised only one team could win.
Giles Clarke called the ending "totally unsatisfactory" and called upon the ICC to change the rules. You can look at that two ways: one is that he's got a point, the other is that light depends in your opinion, on whether your side needs it or not. (5.35 - 7.30)
Mak Nicholas: Well, it shouldn't. You should look at what's right for the game and the spectators. That's my problem with light. It's a decision made entirely in reference to the players, not the people who are paying to watch.
|"Even the penalty of a suspension is not enough. You must affect the game they are playing and one way would be to penalise them with runs" Daryl Harper|
I think very rarely do we see a situation where it's dangerous and so bad that it's clear to everybody that the players actually cannot see the ball. I think the default position should be that we stay on, not we come off. I think the wording in the law is wrong, the description is wrong, using the word "dangerous". Very rarely in my career have I seen a condition seeming dangerous.
What could be dangerous conditions for one bowler may not be for another, for example when the spinners are bowling. Is that a factor? (7.31 - 10.07)
DH: I think it can be that dangerous. I'll draw Mark's memory back to 2004 in Trinidad when Billy Bowden and myself applied the law on the fourth evening. On that occasion standing at square leg, I had great difficulty picking up that sad looking red ball in the fading light. I had no idea which way the ball was coming, A batsman has a sightscreen and he's focusing on the one item that's coming straight at him. Rarely do fieldsmen have any protection, apart from the ones standing close, so I would think the fielders and the umpires are in danger.
MN: Unfortunately my position on it is that the players should play in worse conditions. They should bowl their overs faster or play in worse conditions. If they haven't bowled their 13.5 or 14 overs, it's their problem and they should have to play in those conditions. I don't think cricket should have to be perfectly fair.
How do we tackle the question of over rates? Are the deterrents good enough at the moment? (23.20 - 25.07)
MN: Well, there's a lot of reason for stoppages. The drinks breaks are just ridiculous. When such breaks became so frequent I have no idea. There are lots of other reasons we stop play and it gives players some leeway. To me, it's a nightmare - 14 has become 13 and it can very well go lower. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask people to bowl 96 overs in a day's play, but we can't even seem to get 90.
One of the feelings people have is that the umpires don't quite push the game as much as they should in these situations. (23.20 - 31.30)
DH: Well, what would have MS Dhoni have said if I had told him to hurry up! There are so many stoppages, like Mark said, but what happens is whenever there is a stoppage for anything, the third umpire notes it down, a member stood up behind the bowler's arm, 15 seconds; player tied his shoe lace, ten seconds; and so on, and they all accumulate.
Umpires have always bent their backs and helped fielding sides, and I think it's high time we toughened up players to bowl their overs much quicker. I'd like to see a system change. For example, at present only at the end of a Test match is the team's over rate calculated and penalty imposed.
Why not apply a penalty at the end of a day's play? If a team hasn't bowled its overs on day one, then ten runs per over for each over not commenced in the scheduled time of the day's play.
These guys earn megabucks. Dollars mean nothing to them. You will only have an effect on them if you affect the game they are playing in at that time. Even the penalty of a suspension is not enough. One way would be to penalise them with runs.
What's the solution then? What do we tell the ICC? (32.00 -)
MN: You go with one of our two suggestions which is that the captain receives a monumental fine as the over rates are a steal to the public, who are paying enormous sums of money for their tickets, or you bite the bullet, do a bit of research and have the runs penalty. I'd hate the idea of a close finish being lost to penalty runs, but in the end that might be the only way to go because, rest assured, that will work.
Numbers Game question (36.02 - 41.03)
The Oval Test was drawn with England 21 runs away from victory. There have been 11 drawn Tests in which the team batting fourth needed less than 21 runs to win. Only one of those was an Ashes Test - which one?
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