Test cricket is ripping us off with incessant time wasting

Date: December 21, 2014 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell

Drinks breakIt defied description yesterday afternoon when, four minutes before stumps, drinks were run out to the Indian batsmen at the Gabba along with towels and an assortment of batting gloves.

Yes, that’s right, four minutes before stumps.

It must have been damn thirsty work yesterday as the same two blokes had run out drinks just two overs earlier.

I don’t very often yell at the TV when watching sport but I did yesterday and what I was saying was what the two umpires – Ian Gould and Marais Erasmus – should have been saying as well, “Get off the ground!”

This little rant is not directed at the Indian team for all sides do the same nowadays.

It is directed fairly and squarely at the match officials and the ICC.

Like the first Test at the Adelaide Oval the over rates at the Gabba have been appalling.

At the scheduled time for stumps yesterday as is the modern norm the daily allotment of overs had not been sent down.

In fact, nowadays the chances of the minimum number of overs being bowled by the scheduled stumps is as likely as a brunette being crowned Miss Sweden.

So, with overs still be bowled yesterday the extra half-hour clause was invoked.

And when that half-hour was done and dusted the players trudged off the ground still leaving behind them seven overs which were never bowled.

Each of the first three days at the Gabba has been extended by half an hour and despite that a total of 25 overs have failed to be bowled.

When play is lost to rain subsequent days commence half an hour earlier in an attempt to make up the lost time.

When it comes to teams being unable to fulfil their obligation of a minimum 90 overs per day the shortfall simply disappears into the ether.

That is exactly what has happened as a result of the appallingly slow over rates through the first three days at the Gabba – and it is worth remembering that there is no DRS in this series.

Despite an additional 90 minutes of play being added to the opening three days 25 overs simply vanished, never to be seen.

For the paying customer of the sport it is simply not good enough,

Why should they be so regularly denied what they have paid for?

Yes, the weather has been hot for the first three days in Brisbane but what we have witnessed in this match and in Adelaide is an all too common occurrence no matter what the temperature is.

Over time the ICC has made a rod for its own back by turning a blind eye to the unscheduled drinks breaks that happen all too often throughout a day’s play.

For decade after decade players only received a drink at the scheduled mid-session break.

It more recent times reserve players began to rush drinks onto the ground for the fieldsmen and not out batsman at the fall of a wicket.

Nowadays it is a case of open slather with ‘pit stops’ occurring as regularly as every two overs.

It is time that there was a concerted clampdown.

The umpires are charged with the responsibility of making sure that play continues smoothly and in accordance with the spirit of the game.

And that spirit should extend to the paying public.

It is time the ICC directed its umpires to stamp out the incessant time wasting that has become a blight on the game.

The game needs to be hustled along by the umpires.

While the myriad mini drinks breaks have a significant effect on over rates there are a lot of other areas where the umpires need to be more diligent.

Batsmen should be instructed to be ready to face the bowler by the time he turns at the top of his run and not be down the pitch still patting the ground.

Captains should be given the hurry up with respect to setting fields and wandering down from slip to talk to the bowler.

At the best of times the game of cricket can have a glacial feel about it but when players are allowed to do as they wish the pace of the game can become farcical.

Captains are threatened with suspension should they become recidivists in the area of slow over rates although there too often seems to be loopholes that they can wriggle through to get off the hook.

Fines are imposed yet they too seem to have made little impact.

Perhaps it is finally time that penalties in the shape of runs are needed to actually get things back on track.

I have never really been a supporter of synthetic penalties such as an additional number of runs being added to the opponent’s total in lieu of a tardy over rate by the fielding side.

But, having screamed at my TV yesterday afternoon perhaps I have been won over.

Enough is enough.

First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 20 December 2014