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Scheduling and over rates cloud Australia's ODI win

George Bailey should be given another shot in the ODI team. (AFP PHOTO/ANDREW YATES)
Roar Guru
14th November, 2014
4

It’s the biggest Australian summer of one-day cricket ever, but it was a slow start at the turnstiles on Friday.

The WACA was the venue, with strong rivals Australia and South Africa in action, yet only 9,322 people turned up.

More people in Perth went to the basketball than the cricket.

So what went wrong? Clearly the starting time is to blame.

It was Friday, a working day, but the match started at 11:20am local time; when most fans were in their office. By the time they knocked off, the game was well into its second session.

The three-hour time difference was ignored completely by the schedulers, who put the game on at the same time as a day-night clash in Sydney. But a game that’s a day-night game in Sydney is a day game in Perth, with the lights not taking over until the final minutes.

We’re told that eastern states’ TV is all-important, but this scheduling was an insult to the WA public – already slighted by the lack of a Test at the WACA this season.

And what of the eastern states TV viewers? Under normal over rates, the typical working TV viewer would have made it home for the innings break. By holding the game back a couple of hours, which would have enabled WA-based fans to attend, they would also have enabled more viewing hours in the eastern states.

Instead of turning off the TV at 10:30, they could have run longer and had another couple of hours of blockbuster ratings. I’m in Sydney and didn’t get home from work until about 6pm. I’d have loved more cricket to watch. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

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The start time was not the only issue.

Four hours after the start time, the South African team were still in the field and Australian batsmen were still at the wicket. The act of playing out 50 overs of cricket, which should have taken three and a half hours, took more than four.

Sure there was an injury delay of a couple of minutes, and the video umpire was called a few times, but for much of the afternoon there were players dawdling into fielding positions, unofficial additional drinks breaks, and all manner of time-wasting.

Both sides were equally guilty. After a half-hour break, the Australians took the field. Only a few minutes short of four hours passed before the South Africans were dismissed in the 49th over.

Is it really that hard to bowl 50 overs in three and a half hours? Players have been fined. Players have been suspended. And yet over rates have continued to drift slower and slower.

Watching these elite sportspeople procrastinate and filibuster their way around the oval is farcical. Just get on with it!

What do we need to get the players to keep the game moving? Harsher fines? Longer suspensions? Penalty runs? Or just an attitudinal shift, that players accept they have a responsibility to keep the game moving.

There was some great cricket played on Friday. A game of momentum swings that was in the balance until the final minutes. It was a good day of cricket; the start of a marathon one-day cricket summer.

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But it would have been even better had it been played at a time when people could see it. And would have been better again had players not wasted so much time.