Cricket

Countdown clock, free hit for no-ball in Tests?




© MCC

Countdown timer clocks to speed up the pace of play in Test cricket, free hits for no balls in the longer format and use of a standard ball in the World Test championship are some of the radical proposals put forth by the MCC World Cricket Committee to “improve the spectacle” of the longer format.

According to the MCC, the proposals, discussed last week during meetings held in Bangalore, will be tested as well as forwarded to the ICC for consideration.

In an exclusive chat with ESPNcricinfo, former England captain Mike Gatting, who chairs the MCC world cricket committee, and former Australian legspinner Shane Warne, outlined the idea behind each of these proposals which are as follows.

Timer Clocks to prevent time wasting

  • A timer, to be shown on the scoreboard, to count down from 45 seconds from the call of “Over”. This would be increased to 60 seconds for a new batsman on strike and 80 seconds for a change of bowler. If either side is not ready to play when the clock reaches zero, they would receive a warning, with further infringements in that innings resulting in five Penalty runs being awarded to the opposition.
  • A similar timer to be used at the fall of wickets, potentially with variable times, depending on the distance from the dressing rooms to the pitch, and at drinks breaks. Batsmen and fielders should be in position before the clock reaches zero.
  • During DRS reviews, the standard protocol should be cut short as soon as the TV production team is aware that it will be ‘Not out.’ For example, time is often spent trying to discern an inside edge for LBWs, only to see, for example, that the ball was missing the stumps. As soon as the ball tracking has been loaded, if it will result in a Not out decision, the TV umpire should be informed immediately.

Free-hit for no-ball in Tests

The MCC committee felt the free hits had posed as successful “deterrents” in limited overs cricket and it was tried out in Test cricket, too. Having free hits would not only make it exciting for the fans, but it would also speed up the over rate.

Warne cited an example to illustrate how free hits could prover an advantage. “Let’s say I bowl a ball, the umpire gives it out and it’s a referral. And then it’s found out that I actually bowled a no-ball. One, the batsman thought he’s out, but not only is he not out, but it’s also a free-hit. Imagine what happens to the crowd. They go from ‘Oh no, my favourite player is out’ to ‘No, he’s not out, it’s a no-ball’ and ‘wow, it’s a free-hit.’ Imagine the excitement!

“It’s in there for T20s and ODIs, why not in Test cricket? It actually helps the no-ball situation too. For instance, England only bowled their first no-ball in ODIs for three years, because of the free-hits. I think it can help reduce the number of no-balls in Test cricket as well. I think it’s a good change and a recommendation to the ICC, hopefully they pick it up.”

Dukes as preferred ball in Tests?

Currently, the SG, Kokkaburra and Dukes are the major ball manufacturers engaged by various boards. With the World Test Championship kicking off with The Ashes as the first contest this summer, the MCC has proposed to standardise the usage of balls in Test cricket barring in D/N Tests where the pink Kookaburra has been used. One of the methods proposed is to have players from around the world vote in. Also the MCC is going to try out the red Dukes ball in Asia to see the results.

According to Gatting any preference should be based on the opinions given by current players including Indian captain Virat Kohli, who last year had been critical with the lot of SG balls used during the home Test series against West Indies. India’s senior off spinner R Ashwin had also given a thumbs up to the red Dukes, which he used while playing in county cricket in the last few years. “You take on board what people like Virat Kohli and others say about what sort of ball they like,” Gatting said. And one would have to say that the Dukes ball has come up, and people have said that as a standard ball, maybe that’s what we should be looking to get and play with.

“Because it seems to have given a better balance for batsmen and bowlers even on flatter wickets. I think we should be listening to the players about this. It’s not what I think, it’s the players. They’re going to play with it. And they’ve spoken out and they would like to see a standardised ball and it might well be a Duke.”

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ESPN Sports Media Ltd.






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