A fortnightly talk show hosted by one of India's most popular cricket commentators

'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


Time Out

'Bowl your overs faster or play in worse conditions'

August 30, 2013

The light closes in on at The Oval, England v Australia, 5th Investec Test, The Oval, 5th day, August 25, 2013
Mark Nicholas feels play should go on even if conditions aren't "fair" © PA Photos

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.

Kumar Dharmasena and Aleem Dar try to appease an agitated Michael Clarke, England v Australia, 5th Investec Test, The Oval, 5th day, August 25, 2013
Harper: "High time umpires toughened up on players for bowling overs faster" © Getty Images

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?

Posted by   on (September 3, 2013, 18:00 GMT)

Seems too harsh.. This view of yours!

Posted by SirWilliam on (August 31, 2013, 2:57 GMT)

Why not agree 30 overs per session (although I would prefer 35)? If the bowlers have not completed them by lunchtime, they stay out there until they have, thus shortening the interval as the next session will start on time. The same would apply to the tea interval. Admittedly, there would have to be certain agreed adjustments for unexpected and acceptable delays, change of innings etc., but you can be sure that the players will not want to reduce the time when they have their feet up in the pavilion. Slow over rate problem solved?

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 13:49 GMT)

I CANNOT believe that nobody has mentioned that there is already provisions in the laws of the game that give umpires power to deal with slow over rates and time wasting.

PLEASE PLEASE have a read of Law 42.9

The key question now is why do international umpires completely disregard Law 42.9 ???

Posted by Green_and_Gold on (August 30, 2013, 12:07 GMT)

Is there a reason why there cant be a standard light reading for safety? It seems to vary from game to game (but is consistent once one reading has been taken in a game). It would be interesting to see the results of the readings where bad light stops play over the last few years. Also agree that games should start earlier esp in places like ENG during the beginning and end of the season as it does get dark earlier in those times.

Posted by salazar555 on (August 30, 2013, 9:52 GMT)

Start the game earlier, why does the game start at 11am in England, whould start at 10am and then we will get all the overs in

Posted by roversgate on (August 30, 2013, 8:39 GMT)

"They should bowl their overs faster or play in worse conditions" - this was a rather poor statement. If the fielding team has taken too long with field placements and therefore not completed their 90 overs in a day, why should the batting team suffer and have to play in poor light? I prefer the option of having the team continue playing until 90 overs are up or if light deteriorates then award the batting team 10 points (unless the batting team is also responsible for the over rate).

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 6:36 GMT)

I think none of this can be done unless otherwise a basic problem is resolved. Umpires do not declare whether a team slowed down the game on purpose! England did it. But there is no official record which states that England did it on purpose! Unless the umpires call it in the ground, no penalty can be levied.

Posted by CricketChampion on (August 30, 2013, 5:43 GMT)

well icc have to be more assertive on view of fast over rates, a fast over rates make the game interesting and keep match in good speed where more people who not interested in cricket gain it because of faster processing of cricket matches and lower time wastage, so it should be implemented and more fines should be applied if over rates become slower bcoz it costs the cricket game ultimately

Comments have now been closed for this article

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