The one-day series between Australia and India has once again highlighted the bane of international cricket: slow over rates.
As always, this topic is hugely divisive. Many simply blame the bowlers, others figure it’s the fielding side’s fault, in particular the fielding captain, while many believe it is also the fault of the batsmen, with incessant changes of gloves and never being ready for the bowler.
All agree on one thing – it’s a blight on the game and needs to stop. All disagree on one thing – how to fix the problem.
Everyone has weighed into this debate, with ex-players like Shane Warne suggesting adding 25 runs to the batting side, while others have suggested going back to penalising the fielding skippers with suspensions from matches.
There are many more solutions out there, but most have been tried before and haven’t worked. So what could work?
The ICC – which earns billions from media and sponsorship deals – allocates funds to different countries.
What if the ICC were to adopt a simple approach to this issue and withhold a percentage of a country’s annual grant?
In other words, make it the responsibility of the cricketing nations and their respective boards – rather than the players – to make sure they played within allocated time frames.
This is how I see this solution playing out.
The ICC would ask the independent third umpire to decide whether there were legitimate reasons for an international match not finishing on time. If there were, like one or more serious injuries, no penalties are incurred for either side.
If there were not, both nations involved in that match would have one per cent of their annual grant deducted by the ICC and re-distributed to the 92 associate members to be used to develop cricket in their nations.
This approach forces each and every cricketing nation to make sure their players adhere to the rules of the game, including time frames. How each board does that is entirely up to them.
It also stops any argument about whether the batting or fielding sides are to blame. Both would be held accountable. It takes away the requirement to artificially change scores because there would be no need to add or subtract runs, or add or subtract overs.
The ICC would need to insist that any money deducted came from funds set aside for player contracts and is not taken from funding for junior cricket, women’s cricket, or the various state associations. In other words, the money set aside for all national player contracts would be reduced.
Peer pressure is a wonderful thing. You can be sure all affected players would be telling those in international matches to get on with the game, rather than risk reducing the pool of money available for player salaries.
If this approach was adopted prior to the start of this international summer, right now India’s BCCI and Cricket Australia would each be down hundreds of thousands of dollars.
For both the BCCI and Cricket Australia, that’s a sizeable amount, which neither could afford to lose given the state of the world’s economy.
I’m guessing if this change were implemented, cricket boards around the world would move rapidly to ensure time wasting becomes a part of cricketing history.