MCC committee suggests timers to curb slowing-down of games in Test cricket

The MCC panel also suggested introducing the free-hit rule in Test cricket, similar to limited-overs formats.

Jason Holder
Jason Holder. (Photo Source: ICC)

The perception that Test cricket is dying was found to be untrue in a recent survey by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) – the sole authority on the laws of cricket. It found a whopping 86 per cent of fans still identifying the longer format as their preferred one. The survey also looked into some key challenges concerning the attendance at the ground and viewership of the longer format and concluded that the players needed to speed up the game.

Statistics of the International Cricket Council (ICC) from last May showed that 2018 saw the slowest over rates in the last 11 years, the MCC said. The authorities have also thought out a new rule to address the problem that slows down the game and dampens the interest. The MCC’s World Cricket Committee suggested that timer clocks be used during the longer formats along with other changes to make it more absorbing.

As per the suggestion, the timer, to be shown on the scoreboard, to count down from 45 seconds from the time the umpire signals the end of an over. The time would be increased to 60 seconds for a new batsman on strike and 80 seconds for a change of bowler. If any of the sides are not in a position to resume play when the clock reaches zero, they would be given a warning and repetition of the offence in the same innings will result in five penalty runs being awarded to the opposition.

This rule is consistent with Laws 41.9 (time waste by the fielding side) and 41.10 (time waste by the batting side). A similar timeframe was also suggested to be used after a wicket falls and it will be a variable one, depending on the distance of the pitch from the dressing rooms, and at drinks breaks.

Committee also suggests free-hit in Tests

The MCC panel also suggested introducing the free-hit rule in Test cricket, similar to limited-overs formats.

“The MCC World Cricket committee recommends that Free Hits should be introduced after No balls in Test matches. The system is used in the white-ball formats and the added deterrent results in there being fewer No balls than in Tests,” read a release from the MCC.

“For example, England recently had a spell of 45 ODIs without bowling a No ball, yet they bowled eleven in the three Test series against the West Indies. The system would not only be exciting for crowds when there was a Free Hit, but also it would help to speed up over rates, if fewer No balls are bowled.”

The committee, comprising the likes of Sourav Ganguly, Shane Warne, Shakib Al Hasan, Mike Gatting, Kumar Sangakkara among others, also floated the idea of using one standard ball in the format across all nations.

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