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

LONDON: The MCC World Cricket Council suggested on Tuesday the introduction of a shot clock in Test cricket in a bid to speed up the five-day game.

Slow over rates have become an increasing problem in Test cricket, with claims that the sedate pace of that form of the game is becoming less attractive for fans.

International Cricket Council statistics from May 2018 show that over rates in the last year were the lowest in the 11 years they had been measured.

While the MCC council acknowledge that the introduction of the Decision Review System (DRS) was partly responsible for this, they believe a number of measures could be brought in to speed things up.

Timer clocks to prevent time wasting

The shot clock is one of those suggestions, with the MCC statement proposing: “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,” the statement read.

Free hit for no-ball in Tests

A further proposal is for Test cricket to implement the rule used in white-ball cricket where a no-ball is followed by a free hit for the batting side.

The committee felt free hits had been successful “deterrents” in limited-overs cricket to bowling no-balls, and should be tried out in Test cricket, too.

Warne cited an example to illustrate how free hits could prove to be 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!

Standard balls for Test championship

The Marylebone Cricket Club World Cricket Committee has proposed the use of a standard ball by all teams for the World Test Championship as part of the recommendations made after its latest meeting.

The Test championship begins after the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 and the committee, which met in Bengaluru on 8 and 9 March, said it provided the “perfect opportunity” to introduce the standardisation in the interest of the game.

Currently, the Dukes ball is used for Tests in England and the West Indies, the SG ball in India, and the Kookaburra everywhere else, including for day/night Tests. “It would be for the ICC to choose which ball is most suitable, with the committee stressing that the balance between bat and ball is crucial,” a statement after the meeting said.

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