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'Award the opposition ten runs per over'

What will it take to get teams to keep in step with the required over rate? We asked a few insiders for possible solutions

Interviews by Nagraj Gollapudi

August 30, 2013

Comments: 79 | Text size: A | A

Stuart Broad does up his shoelaces, England v South Africa, first Test, Lord's, July 14, 2008
The old shoelace trick © Getty Images

Tardy over rates have been a malaise that has worsened in modern cricket. Virtually every international team breaks the existing law, which requires 15 overs to be bowled in an hour. A striking example of how a team can break the rule blatantly and not be punished came on the third* afternoon of the final Test of the Ashes, when England bowled 11 overs in an hour in their aim to restrict Australia's run rate. No action was taken, though England might have hurt their own chances of a victory as they were robbed of time in the end. ESPNcricinfo spoke to five experts for their prescriptions to remedy the long-growing problem.

Ian Chappell
'Suspend the captain immediately'

I first wrote in 1991 that the captain should be suspended for two Tests if the overs aren't bowled in a day. I still believe that is the best way to fix this problem. The administrators also need to make some compromises. They would include:

1. A back foot no-ball law, so that no-balls are virtually eradicated from the game (this can be done without re-introducing draggers), and this would help speed up the over rate.

2. Permanent sightboards, so that they don't have to be adjusted for a bowler changing from over to round the wicket. And remove all advertising from the sightboards, as they pretty well always cause interruptions to the game. Surely this amount of money can be made up in some other way.

3. Change the boundary law so that it's whatever you run unless the ball hits the rope. This will eradicate the need for replays to see whether the legs, hands, toenails or nose hairs are touching the rope.

4. Reduce the DRS to purely line decisions (which are the only ones that can be guaranteed to give you a 100% result), and ask the umpires to start making decisions. This way you might even improve the standard of umpiring as well.

5. Drinks are only allowed once a session unless there are special circumstances (i.e. temperatures over a certain figure), and after a reasonable time an injured batsman is told he either retires or gets on with his batting. You can't have physios holding up the game while a full medical is completed - this can be done off the ground.

6. There needs to be a more satisfactory solution to the bad-light law. 
The umpires should also be told to remind the captain regularly that he's heading for a suspension if the over rate is slow.

With the administrators making those concessions they can then afford to demand the players bowl a certain number of overs in the day without any reductions. If they don't bowl them on any one day, the captain is suspended.

There will be a huge scream the first time it happens and then the overs will be bowled on time without fail from then on. This will also eradicate over-time, which is a blight on the game. Six hours of cricket is enough in one Test day for everyone.

Geoff Boycott
'Ten penalty runs per over'

For 20 years I have been saying this: it is not going to work, suspending the captain. There is nothing the umpires can do because there is nothing in the laws, which is stupid really. Many times the umpires will tell the captain, "Listen, you are bowling it slow. Better move on." But captains do not take any notice because umpires cannot punish them. The punishment has to fit the crime.

The crime is bowling slow deliberately - then there should be a punishment, but the punishment should hurt them in that match. It is no good saying, "We will fine them", because they earn so much money that they do not care anymore. Some countries like India have a small salary but high fees for playing. But even if you fine them 10% of the match fee, it is nothing. It is peanuts for all the advertising money they get from broadcasters.

The other issue is allowing concessions to the players. People have tied shoelaces. People have walked in front of sightscreens forever. People have got hit on the hand and called the physio to rub it and put the spray on. They make all these excuses, so they don't really fine them. And if they do have to fine them, they find every excuse under the sun not to suspend them. And if it is a big-name player, if he is a captain of India, England, Australia, it is extremely rare for that to happen. It is nonsense.

You work out how long they have been bowling. You allow him 15 overs an hour, which is four minutes an over. Then, based on the time the opponent declares or is bowled out, you divide the batting time by four minutes and determine the number of overs that needed to be bowled. If, say, you are six overs short, you penalise them with ten runs an over. So you give 60 runs to the opposition. That will stop this problem immediately. In tight matches, where runs are absolutely priceless, as witnessed a few times during the recent Ashes, if you give the opposition 20, 40, 60 runs, they will get them down and move them.

"It is no good saying, 'We will fine them', because they earn so much money that they do not care anymore" Geoff Boycott

Martin Crowe
'The DRS must be scrapped'

Slow play has always been Test cricket's Achilles heel. That's why Twenty20 appeals to the wider fan base. 

In a nutshell, the ICC must change the following:

The DRS must be scrapped as is and replaced by a one-unsuccessful-challenge system, with no predictive-path technology. The system must only be used to protect against an umpire's obvious mistake.

The no-ball rule must be changed back to the back-foot rule to reduce the amount of no-balls bowled, and also eliminate the constant referring to them in replay.

Deterrents must be put in place for breaking the spirit of the game. In the case of slow play there need to be severe run penalties on the spot after an initial warning, with match bans for captains after the match concludes.

Overall the umpires must regain their confidence to set the tone for teams to play at the appropriate speed, and in common-sense playing conditions. DRS and playing conditions are killing the true meaning of umpiring. This ultimately erodes the controlling of the game, allowing for teams to exploit it.

Daryl Harper
'Have a penalty that impacts the result of the game in question'

Generally it is only when a team runs out of time to score the target of runs that a fielding team's over rate is discussed disparagingly. In recent times, ignoring rain-affected matches, fewer Tests end in a stalemate than ever before. But when they do, unrest surely follows.

Since Sourav Ganguly successfully challenged sanctions against him for maintaining slower-than-required over rates, umpires have become more vigilant about recording any stoppage in play that may hinder the fielding team's attempts to complete the minimum requirement of overs. In fact, umpires bend over backwards to assist fielding captains, who often appear to be unable or unwilling to help themselves.

The crux of the problem is that no actions are taken until the match is completed. A team can be ahead of the over rate when the final stanza begins. But if a loss is imminent, then the over rate can slow to a crawl. Bowlers can amble along between deliveries, regularly re-tying bootlaces, and captains can make endless fielding alterations as if the match situation demanded it. If a team wants to bowl ten overs in an hour when 15 is the requirement, then that's all they will bowl. After all, at the end of a Test match, the over rate will be calculated and averaged over all five days.

If there was a simple solution, it would already be in use. Surely the best resolution will be a penalty that impacts upon the result of the game. Perhaps if the calculations were completed each day, and ten penalty runs awarded for every tardy over, play would actually finish in daylight. In limited-overs cricket, the calculation could be applied at the moment when the final over should have been bowled.

Michael Clarke talks to umpire Billy Bowden about the fading light, South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Johannesburg, 3rd day, November 19, 2011
For a penalty to be effective, it must potentially have a bearing on the outcome of the match in question © Getty Images

Chris Martin
'Make the fines substantial'

As far as New Zealand goes, my experiences with delaying the game were not that often. Unfortunately, in a high-profile series like, say, the Ashes, a team like England, who are quite ruthless, would like to make the best of an opportunity without losing the game.

Most of the delaying tactics used by teams, all simple, are quite evident on the TV: the captain speaking to the bowler regularly and setting fields, other players talking to the bowler at the top of their mark. The latest one (in the Oval Test) was whether the ball was wet and whether it was able to be bowled.

Some experts point out the ICC must use a stringent measure like immediately banning the captain to deliver the message. Taking players out of the game would be might alter the whole feeling of Test cricket, in the sense you have lost one of your best players due to a rule infraction. One way to deal with it is to do it without devaluing the game is to make the fines substantial.

Also, you cannot solely blame the captain, because it is usually a team-management decision. Most times the coach is involved and the captain is basically out there orchestrating it. So the authorities could consider imposing action against the coach, which might perhaps speed things up.

*The day was erroneously mentioned as the fourth

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (September 1, 2013, 8:32 GMT)

@YorkshirePudding. Fast bowlers should have no problem keeping up with the currently designated 4 minutes per over, whether or not it's the start of an innings. If they can't do that, then no matter what the penalty system is, the captains are going to have to resort to bringing on spinners when they don't want to.

Back in the 1950s, the average over rate in test matches was around 20 per hour. Even allowing for more runs being scored these days, 15 per hour should be no problem, even for an all-seam attack.

As for slow batsmen -- well (from the laws of cricket): "Other than in exceptional circumstances, the Batsman should always be ready to take strike when the Bowler is ready to start his run-up." This is easier to police than keeping the fielding side honest, so it's probably less of a problem. Sanctions might include sin binning or perhaps even forfeiting of their wicket (or maybe a chance for the bowler to bowl a normal delivery at their stumps unimpeded - out bowled if hit.)

Posted by chechong0114 on (August 31, 2013, 18:01 GMT)

There is a simple solution to all this, just implement a POINT SYSYTEM and that will eradicate everything, if England were to lose points for drawing the last game they would not have been bowling such a slow over rate, there are already tooo many harsh penalties in the sport that players and teams face so no more penalties. Implement a must win point system for each game taking points away for drawn games in a test series, teams that are playing at home must win , a draw is considered a lost to a team playing home because they have home court and home crowd advantage this will eradicate teams wasting time in the middle and making sure that their overs are bowled on time a point system will also increase the fans interest which may see more people showing up at the grounds on game day. Also it is time to turn the lights on at night and do away with this old boring BAD LIGHT rule too much time is lost due to it.

Posted by gdalvi on (August 31, 2013, 13:23 GMT)

I always find comments give better and simpler idea than the 'experts'. Fines are useless and and run penalties simply distorts the good game (will be another DRS-like fiasco). To summarize 1) As some have said allowing 6 days Test made to last 450 overs would essentially eliminate all issues. There was time in past where Test lasted 6 calendar days where 4th day was Rest day. Let us allow 6th "overtime" day - this will not only take care of over-rates but also impact of any weather conditions. 2) Also once day/night tests start and light is no longer an issue - allow 1 extra hour each day to complete the mandatory 90 overs. As someone suggested, it can be enforced at 30 ov per session - assuming no weather delays 3) One great point made by someone on another discussion is to bowl from same end for 5 overs before switching - will save on field placement time without hurting essense of the game

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (August 31, 2013, 7:49 GMT)

@Michael J. Walker, so what about the first hour of an innings, when you are using mainly fast bowlers, most of the time you will be bowling 13 overs/hour for the first 1.5 hours until the spinner comes in, or are you advocating that a spinner should open the bowling from the first over?

How about batsmen deliberately slowing up the over rate so they can get a player 'sin binned'. Imagine if England had used that tactic to get Warne or McGrath sent off for an hour or two.

Posted by bhusaranga on (August 31, 2013, 2:40 GMT)

End of the day we are forgeting humans are going to play for 5 days of game. This time issue comes only after rain or some kind of weather related. In these cases why dont ICC add one more day as reserve one. That will help.

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (August 31, 2013, 2:08 GMT)

Love the 10 run penalty rule put forward. Can't do it for ODIs like Daryl Harper said, but it is great for Tests. It will also add another aspect to the game that will bring back Test match cricket. Scrap the light rule too (the rules were made in a time when they did not have floodlights and we do have them now). The no ball rule that Chappell put forward is ridiculous. They only check if its close on a wicket, so the amount of time is marginal (considering that it takes time for the next batsman to come in, its not really wasting any time)

Posted by Greatest_Game on (August 31, 2013, 1:41 GMT)

@ AlanHull. Could not agree with you more about Trott. He is the worst culprit for making the bowlers wait while he goes through his ritual. If the bowler is ready & he is not, the bowler should be able to bowl. If he tries to pull out, tough. The ball counts. He will change his habits very quickly.

Posted by riverbaby11 on (August 31, 2013, 0:50 GMT)

This is was an awesome line from Ian Chappell "eradicate the need for replays to see whether the legs, hands, toenails or nose hairs are touching the rope."

Posted by chrynnon on (August 30, 2013, 23:40 GMT)

Here's another option: eliminate draws. In the event of what is currently a draw, the winner is the team with the higher run rate.

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 23:36 GMT)

@yujilop (August 30, 2013, 17:29 GMT) Given the furore over umpires taking the players off for bad light, do you really think a ground full of spectators are going to be pleased if the match is brought to an immediate end due to something as trivial as a slow over rate? The umpires would be lynched if they tried to enforce that. Terrible idea.

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 23:18 GMT)

Not a fan of penalty runs -- there are other ways to penalize the offending side without resorting to adding "fake runs" to the score.

Off the top of my head, here are two suggestions:

1) If a side isn't up with the rate, they are forced to take a player off the field (batting side's choice, perhaps even including any bowler) for a penalty period -- say, the next hour, extending into the next innings, if necessary. For the second offense in the match (or maybe even the series), two players would have to be pulled, etc.

2) The batting side gets to choose the bowler to face for the next half hour (four overs) from one end. The fielding side might be allowed one veto (in case of injury) but that would mean the batsmen would still be facing the second worst bowler on the team. Second offense, the batsmen get to select both bowlers for the next half-hour (8 overs).

The 3rd umpire would track the over rate (over the last 30 minutes) and indicate when penalties were necessary.

Posted by Joshima on (August 30, 2013, 19:48 GMT)

I love the idea of the 10 runs penalty for every over. they the best detergent for deliberate slow overate.

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 17:30 GMT)

Geoff Boycott is right in principle - unless there is a punitive and immediate penalty applied, nothing will happen to improve over rates. What annoys me is that there is ALREADY provision within the laws of cricket to stamp this out - Law 42:9 states clearly that any fielding side guilty of wasting time can, after a formal warning, be penalised 5 runs per offence, with further action to be taken after the game. And this gets to the crux - there is very little will amongst the current panel of umpires to act decisively because the ICC don't want them to. If the powerful nations start complaining it threatens finances and the ICC want nothing to upset this particular apple cart. Thus international umpires become little more than patsies. If the ICC authorised officials to act according to the letter of the law, we may see some change, but don't hold your breath.

Posted by yujilop on (August 30, 2013, 17:29 GMT)

How about directly handing over the match via forfeit if a team stalls too much or too frequently? If the expected rate is 15/over, fine them when they go below that. And, if they go below, say, 10 for any hour or 13 for two consecutive hours, call the match off and hand it to their opponents.

What this would do, if a team did bowl 11 overs in an hour, is force them to speed up in the next hour or forfeit the match.

If you are bowling less than 10 in an hour of play, you deserve to lose the match. No further questions.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 30, 2013, 15:11 GMT)

@Dhaval Brahmbhatton (August 30, 2013, 13:58 GMT) Problem with that is that you have umpires , groundstaff,stewards etc who will all want paying overtime. Not to mention tv schedules

@Jono Makimon (August 30, 2013, 13:17 GMT) True , but DRS is for batsmen and bowlers. It would be unfair to give the bowlers unlimited reviews and not do the same to batsmen and if the batsmen had unlimited reviews that would slow the bowlers over rate

@R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 30, 2013, 13:07 GMT) I'm sure you prob posted this to get the taking weeks gag in , but with timeless tests , one huge problem is tv scheduling

@Cricketgroupie on (August 30, 2013, 13:31 GMT) Prob is that it may be the bowlers fault that the batsmen get less rest time or batsmen's fault the bowlers get less rest time

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 14:24 GMT)

Martin Crowe 'The DRS must be scrapped'

Posted by anton1234 on (August 30, 2013, 14:23 GMT)

I like the idea of 10 runs deducted for each over not bowled in time with a max of 50 runs that can be deducted in an innings. It will hurt. If a team scores 250 and then has 50 rns deducted it will have a far bigger impact than fines. I also agree about a four needing to hit the rope. There are far too many times umpires are calling on the 3rd umpire to chek on this. The sad thing is, cricketers are always looking to waste time.

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 13:58 GMT)

The easiest solution to slow over rates, bad light and all is - a Test should consist of 450 overs (minus 6 overs (max) deducted for change in innings) - regardless of when those 450 overs are complete. If it takes 10 days to complete 450 overs, so be it. Players have to play the full quota for draws and whatever amount to win! Spectators get their money's worth by being able to watch a full test match (if they choose to). The notion that Test matches need to cater to "all" audiences, is ridiculous to begin with. Test matches should be played for the satisfaction of players and people who truly like Test matches. That may mean that a lot of the Test matches may not be broadcast, but that might be OK. They are not meant for everyone anyways!!

Posted by Cricketgroupie on (August 30, 2013, 13:31 GMT)

The answer to this problem is simple. Take time out of the equation. Each day should have 3 sessions of 30 overs (minimum).Lunch and tea times are fixed so if the over rate is slow the players will have less time to rest. No need to deduct time for change of innings as the new fielding side would have been rested in the clubhouse for some time while they were batting. Batsmen would have no incentive to waste time before a break as they would know exactly how many overs they had to face. Fielding teams would not want to be tardy or they could spend most of the day in the field. Fans would be guaranteed weather permitting , to see 90 overs in a day, and TV schedulers would be happy as they would ave a better idea as to when the days play would finish. No need for penalties or suspensions.

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 13:17 GMT)

I really think it is pretty simple to change thinking, keep your over rate up to the 15 overs per hour and you have unlimited use of DRS, if you fall behind the rate then you don't get to use it. This is surely a BIG CARROT which is always going to be more attractive than the opposing stick of having poor decisions go against you continually if you are unable to maintain an over rate when your opposition can.

Posted by Headbandenator on (August 30, 2013, 13:16 GMT)

Was this an example of penalty runs? The scorecard says they are 'bonus' runs. http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1980S/1985-86/IND_LOCAL/RANJI/CENTRAL/RAJ_VIDAR_RJI-C_17-19NOV1985.html

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (August 30, 2013, 13:07 GMT)

We could always go back to timeless tests! Whatever time needed to pick up the 20 wickets needed for a result is the time played...

On saying that, any game where England are facing a deficit of 400 or more after first innings might end up taking weeks :-(

Posted by here2rock on (August 30, 2013, 12:50 GMT)

Ian chappell makes a lot of sense, he should be the head of ICC. Test cricket has lost audience because of ICC not taking the right actions against the culprits. They have allowed the minimum days per day, it should be 30 overs per session. If the bowling team can not make the quota overs then they should be penalised based on the actual average score per over during that session X over short. These runs should be counted as penalty runs. I have seen captains lettings pace bowlers from both sides and bowling 23-25 over on the first and second sessions then getting the team out after tea session. No penalties for the bowling team as the other team takes the field. No common sense at all.

Posted by Int.Curator on (August 30, 2013, 12:47 GMT)

I'm confident with time these good ideas can be tweaked to create a system of rules that will improve the game.

My real concern is games in their early stages being played with no intent to gain a winning result . Games have been played recently where a team was persuaded by captains and coaches to play for a draw rather than play for a win nullifying any chance or danger of losing.

Positive play and aggressive captaincy to get a result should be rewarded as this is what makes for great games that spectators support with passion.

Negative play persuaded by captains, coaches and players needs to be vanished from the game. It ruins games that supporters have payed good money for.

Posted by OldAdam on (August 30, 2013, 12:46 GMT)

Nearly every suggestion I have seen so far strikes me as distinctly unattractive for one reason or another. No, what we need is for a day's play to be a fixed number of overs allowing for innings/rain breaks. The best way to achieve this is to allow the ball to be changed to a pink one whenever the light meter reading falls below a certain point and back to red when the light improves. Start of play should be determined by the local conditions. This would also allow for more time to be added when there have been rain breaks. Oh, the one suggestion that I really do like is the restriction on drinks breaks.

In county games, it is normal to see by how many the bowling side is ahead of or behind the expected over rate. I don't recall seeing this at test matches.

Posted by Praveen_Dhonifan on (August 30, 2013, 12:45 GMT)

Its not right strategy to penalise the team too much for slow over rate. Then over a period of time the fast bowling breed will no longer exist as captains will be under severe pressure to complete their quota of overs within the stiputated time and the likes of Jadejas, rainas & all part-time spinners will become full time specialist bowlers & tats not healthy for cricket at all.

Posted by Robster1 on (August 30, 2013, 12:45 GMT)

Truly excellent ideas and particularly from Ian Chappell and Geoff Boycott. The current slow over rates and weak willed umpires/match referees are helping to kill test cricket. Just how long will it now take the ICC to implement these much needed changes. Don't hold your breath....

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 12:44 GMT)

I agree with Geoff Boycott's views on slow over rates. If teams don't get punished on the field then they will keep doing it. At least that way there are actual consequences to it. Martin Crowe's points are all great except for the back foot no ball rule which will only result in the tall bowlers dominating bowling lineups. Shouldn't be that hard for bowlers to get that foot behind the line rather than spend their time in the nets thinking of excuses to delay games. They should consider stoppages in play like they always do and then calculate the overs a team is behind per session and then award penalty runs as Boycott says. Also like always, Ian Chappell is as stubborn as a rock. Giving the DRS to the umpires has failed in the Ryobi Cup, the back foot no ball had failed before the current law, his proposal on limiting boundaries to just the ball touching the rope will have players taking advantage of it and his idea of instant suspensions is well argues against by Chris Martin.

Posted by napstercric on (August 30, 2013, 12:42 GMT)

Very good article Mr Gollapudi. Just like they do it in the football, by issuing red card, umpires must be given powers to eliminate the captain and the player/players responsible for the slow over rate. This will surely improve the standards. England have recently mastered the art of deliberate slowing of over rate. Especially in the final ashes test. Other teams are not far behind as well. So the rules must be in place ASAP to make test cricket more interesting.

Posted by Harlequin. on (August 30, 2013, 12:30 GMT)

@landl47, good point! Having just read the rules, it is clear that the umpires already have the power to affect the game in question by awarding 5 penalty runs. Now they just need the courage to do it!

Posted by chrynnon on (August 30, 2013, 12:29 GMT)

I have a rule change that is 100% guaranteed to fix the problem:

"If the over rate slips below 15 an hour then the ICC is required to refund all ticket money and return the broadcaster's fees."

I don't know what the ICC will do, but I do know that the over rate will never, ever fall below 15.

Posted by Basingrad on (August 30, 2013, 12:25 GMT)

Rather than go to back foot no balls why not just up the punishment for a no ball from 1 run to 4 or introduce a free hit in Tests? The severe punishment of the free hit means they are rarely bowled in shorter forms now, so I'm sure the same would happen in Tests.

I agree about close boundary calls; if the fielder has put neither foot over the boundary and the ball doesn't touch the rope, they should just carry on and it not be a boundary. It can take forever to make these very marginal calls for the sake of usually only 1 run.

As for DRS, there should be a 1 minute limit. If the evidence isn't clear enough to overturn a decision in that time then it can't have been a "howler" and they should stick with the on-field decision. One look at hotspot from each angle is all you should need and then then the usual hawkeye parameters look after themselves. If hawkeye is too slow the providers need a kick up the backside to speed it up.

Posted by AltafPatel on (August 30, 2013, 12:13 GMT)

The captain should be removed from the captaincy and ban should be sustain for specified years.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (August 30, 2013, 11:57 GMT)

@Nutcutlet, the point with timed out, is that its from when they stepped over the boundry, not when they get to the middle. Thats one thing T20 did very well with the 'dugout' concept, so I dont see why the next man in cant be waiting in a dugout with the drinks boys.

In regards to the 10:45 start, there was a time when C4 had coverage that it was a 10:30 start, which worked well as you could play an hour extra with little difficulty.

Dont even get me started on drinks breaks, they shouldnt be allowed unless there are extremes (26+ degrees), bowlers can get drinks from boundry boxes as they used to, aslo if there is a change of innings/break in a session after 30 mins of play there shouldnt be a drinks break that session.

If wicket cost an over, of play then it should be deducted from the overs to be bowled. also if a tema gets rolled over in a session and only 22 overs a bowled becasue the spinner couldnt get on should a team be penalised?

Posted by landl47 on (August 30, 2013, 11:43 GMT)

One of the first things to do, surely, is to have the umpires use the existing power they have under Law 42? None of the 'experts' mentions this and Boycott doesn't seem to know it exists.

As for scrapping the DRS, it isn't going to happen. However, if the rule was amended to say that the players must assume that the batsman will not be out and must be ready to resume play immediately the decision is announced, that would save at least a couple of minutes after each decision.

At the end of the day, though, there has to the will to resolve the problem at board level. Until we see that, the abuse of the rules and the disservice that does to the spectators and viewers will continue.

Posted by ravi_hari on (August 30, 2013, 11:41 GMT)

Some of the suggestions are good and worth a try. I would recommend a few - have an extra day for every test. If 5 days are not completed i.e. a min of 450 overs are not bowled then extend the test to the 6th day. It could be due to rain, bad light, delaying tactics, injuries, crowd intervention, etc. This way the players know that they cannot avoid playing the full quota. Delaying will be detrimental to the batting side as they will have to bat on a fresh morning. If this is done we will have more results in tests. Secondly, if the test is extended because of fielding side's delay, add penalty runs as Extras to the batting side total. The by-runner rule is a little harsh on batsmen. It should be re-introduced with a rider that injuries during the match and on the field only be considered. Finally the min overs should be counted for sessions 2 & 3 individually. If a side does not bowl 60 overs by tea, they should be penalised, similarly by scheduled day end if 90 are not bowled.

Posted by Harlequin. on (August 30, 2013, 10:59 GMT)

The points made about the batsmen time wasted are very valid, and this is where we need to renew that ancient and lost tradition of respecting the umpires judgement. If the umpire thinks that the batting team is wasting time, then he can factor that into how many overs need to be bowled, much the same as they do in football with added time. Or use the rugby method of 'pausing the clock' when drinks are brought on or a wicket falls or if Broad gets up to more of his antics!

The latter is probably preferable, as the umpires nowadays seem to be shying away from making tough decisions that aren't covered by strict guidelines. This really seems to be the issue, the officials are not willing to stick their neck out during a match and say that enough is enough.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (August 30, 2013, 10:56 GMT)

@ YorkshirePudding: I see your point but, following a dismissal, I'd like batsmen to cross on the field. Too often there is at least a minute's delay before the next batsman appears, but no one ever seems to get timed out! One dismissal should be the equivalent of 1/2 an over, at most. Nonetheless, a 10.45 start time & a moveable time for the close should build in the necessary added time for dismissals & other hiatuses like drinks. In this day & age, when the paying customer should be the first person the authorities consider, it is vital that value for money is seen to be guaranteed, as far as poss. Further, when there is a weather interruption in play, there should be a PA announcement to the effect that, say, 40 minutes' play has been lost and there will now be a min. of 20 overs played before tea & no drinks break. You know & I do too, the captain would ensure that his players were sharp about their business. Years ago, 18-20 overs per hr was routine. We've been ripped off 4 yrs!

Posted by paulmatkj on (August 30, 2013, 10:40 GMT)

salazar555 said: "I don't see why games only start at 11 am and then we are worrying about bad light at the end of the game. Start games at 10 am and get through all the overs."

In England, 10 am can be a dodgy time to play cricket. The ball can move around erratically for half an hour before settling down.

Posted by AlanHull on (August 30, 2013, 10:40 GMT)

An easy way of speeding up England games is get rid of Jonathan Trott, his repeated marking of his guard is infuriating to viewers and probably bowlers. From the stump cam you can clearly see the marks at the crease. Repeated scraping with the foot does not make a difference. Maybe a permanent mark could be used in front of each stump to remove the need for batsmen to take guard. The batsman should be ready when the bowler reaches his mark, if he isn't and has no good reason, tough, let the bowler bowl. It will soon speed up the batsmen.

Posted by gbqdgj on (August 30, 2013, 10:28 GMT)

I thought for one moment that I had lost the plot because I have found myself agreeing with Boycott and Harper...fortunately I recovered because I re-read Chappell's comments and realised that I disagreed with most of them...phew!!!

Posted by JG2704 on (August 30, 2013, 10:17 GMT)

Many decent points from fans and experts alike. I like Martin Crowe but don't like the scrapping of DRS. Generally I like the ideas of Boycott in that you want to have the penalties impacting on the game more above some of these overpaid players. You also have to look at how batsmen can slow the game down and if the bowling side can lose runs then so should the batting side if they are deemed guilty of this. Whatever happens , you need firm,fair umpires who will warn the guilty party before imposing penalties and also take into consideration time used up for DRS , injuries etc. And umpires also need to be allowed to umpire with more common sense re light issues etc and not have to go with the ICC's rigid guidelines.

Posted by JG2704 on (August 30, 2013, 10:16 GMT)

@Jono Makimon (August 30, 2013, 7:01 GMT) Sounds like a fair solution. So long as everything is being taken into consideration. As already pointed out - sometimes it's the batsmen who are as guilty as the bowlers. Maybe they could also be penalised in such instances. PS did respond to your query re 5/1/5 the other day but it was published after 2 or 3 attempts - so a bit late

@MikeJM on (August 30, 2013, 9:29 GMT) Problem is (assuming it's the bowling side's fault that the over rate is slow) , your method would also be denying the batsmen a proper break - no?

Posted by salazar555 on (August 30, 2013, 10:11 GMT)

Surely the easiest thing to do would be to start the game earlier. I don't see why games only start at 11 am and then we are worrying about bad light at the end of the game. Start games at 10 am and get through all the overs.

Posted by WalkingWicket11 on (August 30, 2013, 9:49 GMT)

Penalising 10 runs doesn't address the issue of the batting team stalling the game in an attempt to save it. Suppose you are 200/7 at Tea on Day 5, chasing 400 to win.

You then start tying and untying shoelaces, calling for change of bats, pads, helmet, etc., then move the sightscreen before every ball, and your captain "sends someone with instructions (or towel, in case of England)", etc. In the process, penalty runs are applied, and your target swells to 520, but do you really care?

Then you need to add a new form of dismissal, "Out for deliberate time-wasting", which will cause a new controversy.

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 9:44 GMT)

As far as the batsmen go, you might give the umpire leeway to 'penialise' them an over, if they were perceived as time wasting. It would

I don't think that tension is an excuse for not bowling the overs. It's not like Tennis where you might have a comparison, because cricket is a time-limited game.

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 9:41 GMT)

Enough of the complexity in the game already! Why not reduce the number of overs to be bowled in the day to 80 instead of 90. This would also eliminate the 'extra half hour' which is employed to complete the overs. Also, regarding the light rule, just set a threshold and ask the umpires to discontinue the game if the light intensity is below that threshold. Any intervention from either of the playing captains should then result in direct suspension.

Posted by MikeJM on (August 30, 2013, 9:29 GMT)

The simplest answer is to make every session 30 overs long and if the morning session extends they all get proportionally less for lunch - when they only have 5 minutes break for lunch & 2 minutes break for tea then they may start to play more quickly.

Incidentally, 15 overs per hour is too few anyway, how about 16 per hour (32 over sessions) or even 18 overs per hour - we the paying public wish to see cricket not players chatting to each other & walking slowly when changing ends.

A 50 over match is completed in a day so 16 per hour should be an easy target.

Posted by Green_and_Gold on (August 30, 2013, 9:24 GMT)

Interesting article and varied opinions. There are so many options out there that could be incorporated and every man and his dog as an opinion. You have to consider that there are lots of reasons why over rates are slow. Why not start the match earlier to avoid the issue of bad light at the end of the day so that if the over rate is slow then you still have time to play them. Captains will realise that even if they do slow the overs down that they will have to get bowled anyway.

Posted by py0alb on (August 30, 2013, 9:17 GMT)

A back foot no-ball law would be a massive change.

I agree with Geoff.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (August 30, 2013, 9:11 GMT)

@Nutcutlet, a good idea, but what about also taking overs out of the session for every wicket that fall.

Also what if the batsmen set about delaying tactics, its not just the fielding teams fault, take an extra minute to take guard, or are free to back away if theres a movement behind the blowers arm. Or a batsman having to have Treatment on the field after getting hit in the box, on the helmet, or hand.

I remember a test at the Oval test the first over off a session was held up by 6-7 minutes because of people moving around the OCS stand (Corporate boxes).

Then you have NB/WD that should also be taken out, most bowlers cant avoid them and they could add upto another 2-3 overs a session, depending on the bowler, in a CT50 game at Edgbaston in the early 2004, resulted in a 13 ball over (7 wides).

Its not simple as there are outside factors. thats why you add time on at the end of the day

Posted by PanGlupek on (August 30, 2013, 8:49 GMT)

Obviously fans want value for money, and don't want to see teams employing time-wasting tactics, but I do feel that 15 overs per hour (on average, 4 minutes per over) is very tough to achieve without doing it to the detriment of your team.

The only way you can really do it is make sure spinners bowl a good proportion of those overs, not change fields too often, make sure the bowling doesn't get pumped, and not talk to bowlers about what the team is looking to achieve (not to mention not get injured/not use reviews/not using 3rd umpires for boundary calls, etc).

I'd be happy to see something done to prevent time-wasting, but you'd also have to mitigate for things the fielding team can't control, and as Darryl Harper said above, make the punishment relevent to the game in question, not suspend players afterwards, so the team on the receiving end benefits, not the next opposition.

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 8:48 GMT)

Allow six days for every test - and make it a 450 over game. Time wasting will become irrelevant and it would be possible to make up for time lost to weather.

As for the light - day/night tests will be with us before long, so the bad light issue will go away.

Posted by ThirteenthMan on (August 30, 2013, 8:48 GMT)

What if batsmen cause a delay? Umpires would have a tricky decision.

Hitting boundaries can cause a delay...can't rule that out.

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 8:44 GMT)

In a test match a session can prove to be a game changer. Also two consecutive sessions can be very much different than each other. Hence, can it not be also logical to evaluate over-rate per session instead of per innings? It (session-wise over-rate) is not only a critical factor in tight chase like what we saw at The Oval in the last week but also in many other matches where one session is dominated by batsmen whereas for no particular reason the tide changes in the next session & bowlers dominate. In such situations (when batsmen are dominating), often strategies like slowing over-rates are employed knowing that it could be adjusted overall in the next session. This is highly inclined towards fielding teams as batting team has no such tool available. Also in test matches like The Oval ones where last session's over-rate decides the fate, last session's or last 2 sessions' over-rates decide the fate of the match more often than not. Hence, session-wise over-rate evaluation will help

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 8:33 GMT)

Ian Chappell has it right. And yes, scrap DRS the blight on our beautiful game!

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 8:28 GMT)

Yes I agree with nutcutlet: if you want 30 overs a session, then just define a session to be 30 overs long, and a test match to be 450 overs long. All of the penalty systems add pointless complexity, and are vulnerable to abuse - to trigger a penalty, the batsman could (for instance) step back just as the bowler is about to bowl the final ball of the 15 overs.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (August 30, 2013, 8:25 GMT)

There is more to slow overrates than a team simply bowling slowly. Other factors include wickets falling (3-4 mins/wicket), DRS reviews (3-5 mins), field setting changes, drinks breaks why they are needed unless its over 25 degrees is beyond me.

If 7 wickets fall in a day thats 28 minutes 'lost', which is about 7 overs ,add on DRS if there are 3 of those in a day then thats another 10-15 mintes, so and other 2-4 overs, so we have can legitimately lose 11 overs, but they are made up at the end of the day.

It would also help if teams were able to play 2 spinners, which was a regular feature when pitches were uncovered, and now generally a feature only in the sub-continent.

I dont disagree with something needing to be done, but adding runs could see a game being decided by runs added even though one side was bowled out twice, with time remaining.

Why all the emphasis on the fielding team, what about the batting side deliberately slowing it down to get extra runs.

Posted by ragavant on (August 30, 2013, 8:11 GMT)

For Heaven's sake, can common sense prevail?

It is about time team's are fined runs for such behaviour is used, either by adding to the opposition or deducting from their own team. Players and teams do not care about monetary fines.

Another alternative, is to prevent the leading wicket taker bowling once the first warning to the captains has been given......

I agree with Ian Chappell and Boycott, till teams are punished ON THE FIELD, they will continue to do their most to their advantage.

DRS is fine, just that the players are being shown up for making more human errors than the umpires.....finally they realised that the umpire's job is very difficult.

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 8:08 GMT)

Yes, as Boycs said.. penalty runs would pretty much stamp out slow over rates by taking the motivation away. Fines and suspensions may still not deter a captain on the verge of a significant series win from delaying tactics to stop the opponents equalizing. And add the runs to bowler's analyses (in proportion) as well.

DRS needs improving, not scrapping. However, I believe that umpires should be allowed to review as well.

Posted by John-Price on (August 30, 2013, 7:48 GMT)

Over rates can be slowed by batsmen not being ready. Just to penalize the bowling side would not take account of this.

Also, it can be in times of high tension that over rates slow down - in such circumstances, this doesn't detract from the entertainment at all, and to lob in arbitrary run penalties could distort the outcome of the match in a way that would make a mockery the game.

Rather, I think the best route is to penalize players and the captains by suspension for blatant time wasting. Umpires could issue warnings that unless the players got a move on, they would find themselves in front of a tribunal, with maybe a three or four match ban resulting - that would sort them out.

Posted by Andre117 on (August 30, 2013, 7:28 GMT)

Remedy for slow over-rate, whether delaying tactics or not: 15 overs required per hour. Only 12 overs are bowled in hour 1. Batting team gets 3 * (runrate at the end of the hour + 1). So if the batting team scores 36 runs after 12 overs they get awarded 12 extras. This should eradicate delaying tactics and might force teams to pick at least one slow bowler even on fast pitches.

Scrap DRS. If the TV umpires spots an obvious infraction then he stops the game and overrules the field ump.

Posted by PFEL on (August 30, 2013, 7:18 GMT)

Ian Chappell is spot on with every point except the DRS one. DRS is fine as it is, changing it would just cause massive confusion, even more errors and not fix the errors that are made.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (August 30, 2013, 7:05 GMT)

I'm surprised that none of the contribs to this ongoing debate has mentioned the most obvious effect of this manipulation of the over-rate by the teams whose interests are served by dragging things out, but it must be many years since it impacted on any one of them. I refer, of course, to the scandalous short-changing of the paying public. In football, time is added to make up for the (mostly unavoidable) delays that have occurred in 45 minutes. Cricket effectively discounts this time, but it's worse in cricket as the nonsense that is used to fiddle away time that has been paid for by Joe & Josie months before the event ( but not by privileged ex-players & VIPS). Solution? Bowl a set number of overs (30) per session in Tests (& 32 in fc matches). Sessions should not end until the over-quota is done. So lunch & tea intervals will be reduced accordingly. With obvious flouting, the captain should be warned first & secondly, suspended from the next fixture of comparable importance.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (August 30, 2013, 7:04 GMT)

@TheBigBoodha Great point. With clever manipulation a batting side could slow the over rate to gain free runs (if that was the penalty).

Posted by heathrf1974 on (August 30, 2013, 7:04 GMT)

@TheBigBoodha I remember that game. England kept bringing batsmen gloves and had multiple drinks breaks. I do like the 10 runs per over penalty.

Posted by Insult_2_Injury on (August 30, 2013, 7:02 GMT)

I commented on this site when there was discussion about bowlers knocking the stumps, that the ICC is a joke if they make a rule for what is an accidental rare occurance, but refuse to actually address the delaying tactics employed by England in this series. It's a grey area, though, as evidenced in the last Test. Clarke & Watson were criticised for a go slow in the field, but is there anyone who doesn't agree that the game would've been a yawnfest if Clarke hadn't made two sporting declarations. So can he be criticised if he then tries to draw the game? It's not deemed as wrong to block out 2 sessions to save a game, but what tactic is left to the bowling side if they are trying to save the game? Leg side bowling gets penalised as negative, slow over rates fined. Not fair to opposition & crowd alike, apparently. But isn't England's 2.6 runs an over for a day and a half in the last Test going to lose spectators, just as much as 11 overs an hour?

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 7:01 GMT)

Also if a team is not up to the over rate then they shouldn't be able to use DRS. All these allowances also need to be thrown out, you are either bwling 15 overs an hour or you are not. Only if a batsman is injured should an allowance be made, everything else rests on the fielding team. Batsmen should also have a set time in which to have on field treatment like you see with tennis players. If they need longer than go off and come back at the next fall of wicket.

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 6:50 GMT)

It would help if they dropped the drinks breaks, unless the air temperature is 40 C. They used to only happen in really hot weather, now they happen every hour even if it is so cold that the players are wearing three sweaters each.

Posted by hmmmmm... on (August 30, 2013, 6:45 GMT)

10 runs, even 5, an over seems a good idea - you would have captains yelling at bowlers taking too long with their run ups, fields would be set quickly or not changed as often (Michael Clark, I'm talking to you, 10cm either side is not going to make that much difference), you would see less of those ridiculous conclaves that Cook, Prior and Anderson always seems to have...whether for DRS or just to have a chat mid over...imagine the 30-40 runs an hour added to Australia's total in any of the last 5 tests (even if Australia didn't bat that long in some of its innings)!

Posted by Harlequin. on (August 30, 2013, 6:38 GMT)

@liquefierrr - I disagree, I don't think Chappell has thought all his points through properly, there is too much grey area and it just seems unworkable. The boundary law, there would be just as many replays to see whether the ball touched the rope, and what about 6's? Reducing drinks would be seen as a health risk, and getting grounds to reduce advertising is comical, it would never happen in a million years!

I do agree with you about the DRS though, it could be a good system but unfortunately the players have been using it very immaturely. It may need a rethink but scrapping it completely would be a step backwards.

I like Boycott's idea (as usual, the man is a hero!), it's simple, effective and fair.

Posted by JoieDeVivre on (August 30, 2013, 6:20 GMT)

Ian Chappell easily makes the most prudent and easy to implement points. The issue is, England despite being the worst offender simply got away without even a warning. This is clearly double standards, so there is no level playing field. ICC and it's officials are busy with trivial issues like the size of the logo or additional logo on the bat/pad etc. Additionally, the other point that I absolutely hate and again England are the biggest offenders in this is having substitutes on the field, no points for guessing who the 2 biggest culprits are, Stuart Broad and KP. I've never seen any team misuse the law as much these 2 do. Is ICC doing anything? Are the umpires or the referee making note of these issues? We all know the answers and reasons. There is clearly a need to have level playing and until such time players and team will continue to get away and the paying public and TV audience will continue to tear their hair and we talk about drawing crowds to Test Matches, unbelievable!!

Posted by MrKricket on (August 30, 2013, 5:57 GMT)

The Windies used to have the lowest over rates around at their peak. 80 a day would be pushing it. They used to get fined but never paid the fines apparently. So that worked well.

The runs penalty wouldn't need to be used too many times before it stopped. Amazing how fast over rates could get. Look at no balls in ODIs since the free hit. You hardly see them.

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (August 30, 2013, 5:33 GMT)

What about when the batting team slows down the play, such as when England did this to an absurd extend at Cardiff in 2009, to avoid a massive loss, by one wicket? I still cant believe that England got away with that, and it won them the Ashes. No wonder they are the worst offenders, because they keep getting rewarded for the practice.

I think they could introduce a demerit system where captains lose points in much the same way drivers do, and when they reach a certain number of demerits you punish them.

Posted by Liquefierrrr on (August 30, 2013, 5:32 GMT)

Not a huge Ian Chappell fan but he's absolutely nailed it there. All his points line up excellently.

Scrapping DRS is not the way forward. DRZ is an excellent system that has been misused to the point of farce. Presently it is a Porsche being driven by a 16 yo learner driver - the operator lacks the experience to push it to its fullest extent and use it in the way it was built to be used.

Fines are a bit by-the-by also, the players these days are quite handsomely paid and I'm confident the team would do a 'whip around' to dilute the direct financial impact to the skipper as an individual.

I'd like to go against Ian Chappell for all the years of excruciatingly futile, arbitrary and/or self-promotional rants he has bombarded us Aussie tv viewers with, and I'd also like to add a few pointers of my own, but I can't - his points are, in my eyes, almost flawless!

Something must be done though, that much is clear.

Posted by rocky2611 on (August 30, 2013, 5:29 GMT)

I have seen lot of delaying tactics in the game so far, but what England were doing throughout the Ashes was pretty shameless..... particularly that man Broad.... Its been England's way they play safe...they completely ruined last test match because they were 3-0 up.....they batted slowly, fielded slowly, tied laces and what not.... If it was not for Clark's declaration, that last day was a dead rubber, although England came close they did not deserve to win it....There should be introduction of yellow and red cards like football. A goalie gets a card in Football for wasting time, they have cards for strikers diving.... some could have been done with Broad's shoe episode..... But thing is all the LORDS of cricket in MCC & ICC are too arrogant, they will never emulate even good things from other sports...... look what FIFA did they brought Hawk eye for goal line technology....

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 5:23 GMT)

I think i agree with boycott ... Penalty of 10 runs is more then the fine... Make them suffer in that particular test not afterwards and 10 runs deduction is more then enough for a team

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