The Roar
The Roar



Players allowed to go at snail’s pace with over rates but fans’ complaints fall on deaf ears at ICC

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13th January, 2024
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As cricket grapples with the seemingly never-ending questions about its future, it’s clear that players are now holding too much sway in making big picture decisions. 

Particularly in the big three nations of India, Australia and England, it appears administrators are often falling in line behind the star players rather than the other way around. 

Cricket has a long history of administrators who feather their own nest rather than make decisions in the best interests of the sport and the modern scene appears no different. 

On and off the field, players are getting a cushy ride. 

Nobody pays a ticket to see administrators and we don’t want players to be unhappy about their treatment. 

But they have never had it better. 

Whether it’s scheduling, slow over rates, picking and choosing when they play, video reviews, most of cricket’s modern innovations are designed to appease the star players. 


The over rates in all forms of professional cricket vary from slow to abysmal. 

Australia and Pakistan averaged little more than 12 overs per hour during the recent three-match series. 

Shan Masood was sanctioned for his team having a slow over rate in Perth with Pakistan losing two World Test Championship points and the players being fined 10% of their match fee. 

It changed little as the MCG and SCG Test each crawled along with the players having little regard for giving the paying spectators value for money and the umpires yet again unable or unwilling to step in. 

Little things like batters having an impromptu mid-pitch conference a couple of minutes before the next scheduled break so they waste enough time so they don’t have to face an extra over. That’s the kind of byplay that is easily stamped out if the umpires are empowered to step in.  

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 20: Pat Cummins of Australia reacts as Zak Crawley of England picks up a run during Day Two of the LV= Insurance Ashes 4th Test Match between England and Australia at Emirates Old Trafford on July 20, 2023 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Pat Cummins. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

The current system of each team getting three unsuccessful third umpire reviews each innings plus all the umpire’s call referrals not counting means captains can rort the system for speculative queries upstairs. 


And those extra minutes wasted each innings disappear into the ether. 

Cut the number of reviews to a maximum of two and that will make the captains more measured when it comes to calling for another look.

Even when the umpires prolong the scheduled close of play by 30 minutes at the end of the day’s play, teams are still not getting close to the 90 overs that the fans are coughing up cash to see. 

It will never happen but make the players refund the percentage shortfall in overs to the crowd and they’ll suddenly get through their allotment a lot quicker. 

Time wasting is not just confined to Test cricket – why is it so hard for a bowler towards the end of a T20 innings to get through an over without two or three mid-over conversations with their captain? 

Any chance you can have a quick chat before the over starts about your plans depending on which batter is on strike and put them into place on the run without gathering a quorum where the minutes from the previous committee meeting are checked off while precious minutes of real time float away. 

Curtly Ambrose

Curtly Ambrose. (Photo by Rebecca Naden – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)


An old YouTube clip stumbled into my algorithm during the week entitled “Peak ODI cricket in the 80s! Full coverage of last over thriller Aust vs WI ODI SCG 1988/89”. 

Appropriate given the Windies are about to embark on a two-Test tour and we’re about to be inundated with highlights from decades ago when they were not only strong but the benchmark for world cricket. 

Apart from the very late 1980s hairstyles, no boundary rope and classic commentary stylings of Tony Cosier and Ian Chappell, one things stood out – the Windies backed their young fast bowler Curtly Ambrose, on his first tour to Australia, to figure out how to bowl to Craig McDermott and Ian Healy even though they only needed six to win from the final over. 

The late, great Malcolm Marshall gives him a few pointers before his first delivery as a packed crowd at the SCG cheers on the local batting duo while skipper Viv Richards sorts out the field at mid-wicket then lets the play unfold.

First ball a yorker: No run as McDermott bunts it straight to a well placed Carl Hooper at short cover.

Second ball: Almost an action replay of the first. Six needed off four now. Viv stays in his spot, chewing his gum. 

Third ball: A third yorker on the trot but McDermott squeezes it into the deep for a single. 


Fourth ball: Healy mistimes a full toss to mid-on and they scamper two. Three off two needed. Curtly goes back to his mark without barely a sideways glance from his superstar teammates.

Fifth ball. Ambrose lasers in another yorker and the Aussies steal a bye.

Two runs to win off the final ball. The crowd’s going wild. It’s all on the line. And Viv stays where he is. Healy and McDermott have a brief chat and the quickest Antiguan of all steams in for the final delivery.

He overpitches his yorker slightly and it’s a low full toss which McDermott smacks towards the mid-wicket boundary. And there waiting with the safest pair of hands in world cricket is Viv. The Master Blaster takes the catch as his players run in to swamp him. 

That’s how you do it. The entire over was done in less than four minutes, these days when the match is on the line, they often go longer than five, if not worse.

Time wasting is cheapening the product at a time when cricket can ill afford to be taking liberties.