Not the first time I have picked on slow play as the topic for a post and no doubt not the last, but I want to look at ways in which cricket could/should get tougher on the players, as after all when all is said and done it is their habits and behaviour that effect the pace of the game on the pitch, and across all the club and school grounds!
I am not picking on India (the photo) or England, but the reality is their recent ODI’s took over 8 hours to complete and T20’s take 4 hours these days (and we have long lost the 90 overs a day in Tests).
Now this may all be part of a cunning plan by the authorities to get crowds (when they are allowed back) to spend more time spending money – and this must be a reason behind The Hundred’s logic to reduce the length of the game to make it more attractive to fans who don’t have much time, yet at the same time make all games Double Headers – but at the current pace they really are not going to attract new fans, or retain existing ones as not only are the games too long but the ratio of action to watching players stand around is just not that appealing.
I have discussed before using DRS to speed up the game by putting time limits on reviews, and pro actively reviewing all stumping and run out as they do no balls, but until they get tougher on the players then nothing will really make any significant difference.
So in no particular order.
There should be a fixed time period between overs to stop the endless discussions on tactics and once an over has started the bowler should be allowed no ‘meetings’ to discuss tactics. Fine if the player at mid on/mid off wants to shout across suggestions, but the modern player has so much data available to them and they work so hard on match ups that once the game has started it should be up to the bowler to figure out what they need to do.
If a fielder needs to go off the pitch for any reason then no replacement is allowed on until that player has been assessed by an independent Doctor, but the game continues. If a replacement is required then they have to remain on the field of play for a minimum number of overs (subject to format) before a player returns, and if that player is a bowler they can not bowl again for the total number of overs they were off the pitch.
No drinks breaks at all other than officially scheduled ones. If a player requires a towel, they should tuck one down the back of their trousers as they do when it rains, including the batter. No gloves or bats (unless broken) swapped out other than at official drink breaks, which must be of a set time and adhered to.
If a batter is injured he is allowed one on field treatment but subsequent treatments take place off the field with the next batter taking over until the next dismissal – common sense required if last two batters at the wicket.
Concussion protocols are a grey area as you can’t rush a player off the pitch, but only the Doctor(s) should be allowed on the pitch – not an opportunity for everyone else to take time out – and after a set period if more assessment is required that should be done off the pitch with a replacement batter taking over. Teams can decide once a batter cleared to return returns i.e. fall of next wicket or end of an over.
Hopefully these changes would suffice, but teams do need to be set a time to bowl their overs in and penalised if they fail to meet it. This has always been a tough one to monitor as difficult to determine which team is holding play up but if the above are in place then it is fair to put the onus on the bowling side as they have more control over pace of game: length of bowlers run up, time taken to swap over after an over. The onus is on the batter to be ready when the bowler is and so as long as that is adhered to as well it is reasonable to put any penalties for slow play on the fielding team.
And they need to be punitive penalties which effect the current game. You can include post game fines, but they don’t deter and don’t effect the current game.
How about if you have not bowled your allotted overs in the allocated time you carry on bowling but each run scored counts as 1.5 runs! Harsh? Only if you have slowed the game up in an attempt to gain an advantage.