Slow over rates is unpardonable | Daily News

Slow over rates is unpardonable

When you are appointed the captain of your country along with it come responsibilities, and one of them is to ensure the team plays the game in the right spirit and discipline is maintained at all times.

If a captain gets copped for slow over rate and thereby gets suspended for one match or a number of matches he is being unfair by the team he leads and the country he represents. It is the duty as the captain to ensure his bowlers bowl the number of overs within the stipulated time limit given for an innings and it is also imperative that the senior cricketers in the team also help the captain to stick by it.

Failure to do so will result not only in the captain but also the team members being fined as well. Worse still is when a team loses its captain at a crucial phase of a tournament. Sri Lanka has experienced it on more than one occasion. The recent ban of Dinesh Chandimal for two matches in the ongoing Hero Nidahas trophy is one such instance where Sri Lanka was to meet India and then Bangladesh in the return matches to qualify for the final. Chandimal has been suspended from both these matches and he is not even the country’s white ball captain. Chandimal was appointed to the post because official white ball captain Angelo Mathews is recovering from a leg injury. Following the suspension on Chandimal the onus of leading the country in both these crucial matches fell on all-rounder Thisara Perera who had captained his country in this format before. If Sri Lanka fails to make it to the final then Chandimal would have played his last game in the tri-series. Such is the sad scenario that instances of this nature should not be allowed to happen as it upsets the team strategies and balance. Chandimal was also the wicket-keeper of his team and came to bat in the middle order. His absence has forced Sri Lanka to hand over the wicket-keeping duties to Kusal Perera who without this burden has been scoring freely and winning matches for his country purely on his aggressive batting. He was man of the match in Sri Lanka’s win over India in the tri-series opener.

The Sri Lanka team has been talking about playing smart cricket and taking smart options, but they have not been quite smart enough where the over rate is concerned and it is an area they need to strictly implement some discipline into.

Last year when Sri Lanka underwent one of their worst performances in international cricket Upul Tharanga who led his country in ODIs was suspended twice for serious over rate offences. He was first suspended for two matches in the ICC Champions trophy in June 2017 and then again suspended for a further two matches in the five-match ODI series against India in August two months later. This sort of indiscipline from a captain of a country is unpardonable. He may not be doing it intentionally but he must be aware of his responsibilities as captain. It is also the duty of the rest of the team members to be aware of what is happening on the field and to keep an eye on the clock and the over rate at all times.

Sometimes you need to be street-smart to outmaneuver the rules as Sri Lanka did during the 2012 edition of the ICC World Twenty20 which they hosted when they “swapped” captains to help Mahela Jayawardene avoid a possible suspension.

Having already been fined, and facing the prospect of suspension again, Kumar Sangakkara took over the duties of the toss. On the field, though, Jayawardene did all the commandeering.

It was obvious what Sri Lanka were up to, but it was also magnificently cunning and Jayawardene admitted to the trickery.

"I had a warning for an over rates issue, and if it happens again I miss the match, so what we did was have Kumar as the official captain. I don't think that the intentions were wrong. It's a tough system and it's tough to bowl 20 overs in one hour and 20 minutes in a tournament like this. We try our best, but the penalties are harsh. We don't want to miss the big games, so we did it with the right intentions,” Jayawardene said afterwards.

The rules of captaincy were changed following the incident. The captain that is now named before an ICC event is considered to be the captain, if he is playing. That meant that there is no chance for any sort of ruses in future.

Sri Lanka is notorious for forcing the international governing body the ICC towards changing the rules of the game. In 2004 the ICC revolutionized chucking laws by allowing Muthiah Muralitharan to bowl his ‘doosra’ delivery that was earlier reported to be illegal. The committee that had carefully looked into the issue found that it was not only Muralitharan but that many much-admired bowlers like Glenn McGrath, Shaun Pollock, Steve Harmison and Allan Donald bowled deliveries that are illegal under the existing rules. As a result the ICC brought in a new rule allowing bowlers to straighten their bowling arms by up to 15 degrees replacing the existing ones that restricted spinners to five degrees and fast bowlers to ten degrees.

Going back to the question of slow over rates there is no principal ruler watching over cricket and calculating who should be fined. Incidents are reported by the umpires and team managers and the match referees investigate, allowing for things like time wasting by opposition, reviews, injury and so on. While the accepted standard over rate is 15 overs per hour, to find the “actual required over rate”, all of these factors need to be considered. However, the application will always remain inconsistent.

Some teams experience difficulty on over rates on the type of bowlers they use. For instance teams like South Africa, Australia and England for example who depend largely on pace will find it more difficult to whizz through overs than subcontinent teams which are packed with spinners.

In the end, this factor could even influence team selections. The hard part is that some teams are punished for being packed with pacemen, while others can get away with time-delaying tactics because of the amount of spinners in the team. In Sri Lanka’s case there is no excuse for such tardiness.


 

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