Cricket ‘Ridiculous’: Big Bash rule change backfires

Cricket ‘Ridiculous’: Big Bash rule change backfires

Cricket

The latest Big Bash League innovation was designed to speed up the game, yet somehow it’s had the exact opposite effect.

Ahead of the 11th edition of the Big Bash League, Cricket Australia unveiled its latest innovation for the T20 tournament — a 75-second timed out rule.

Law 40 states a batter must be ready to face the next delivery within three minutes of a dismissal, but CA cut that time limit down to just 75 seconds for this summer’s Big Bash.

If the batter fails to arrive in time, they must stand to aside for the first delivery of their innings and allow the bowler a free ball at the stumps.

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The rule was introduced in an attempt to help speed up the game — professional men’s matches have been plagued by immensely slow over rates, most notably in the Indian Premier League, where some games have lasted four hours.

Last summer’s Big Bash League was no exception, with tedious delays contributing to matches dragging on for three-and-a-half hours and finishing late in the evening.

When there are back-to-back fixtures, it creates an embarrassing scenario where the start of the second match is delayed because the first hasn’t finished, a move purely designed to appease broadcasters.

But instead of speeding up the game, the new timed out rule has backfired dramatically.

A Big Bash innings is supposed to be completed within 80 minutes, but that time limit has rarely been achieved this summer. During Saturday evening’s Sydney Smash at the SCG, the Sydney Sixers innings went for 98 minutes.

Batters were taking guard well before the big screen’s 75-second timer had expired, meaning the players were waiting for the venue’s speakers to stop blaring music before the match could resume.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Sixers spinner Steve O’Keefe told News Corp reporters on Saturday.

“They did this 75-second rule, and you’re waiting 20 seconds when a batter goes out. The music’s going as the batter’s facing up, the batters are talking, they’re running gloves at the 17th (over). There’s so many ways the teams are exploiting it.

“Tonight the music was going and you’re waiting 20 seconds for a batter and we’ve got nine wickets, and then we’re told we’re slowing the overrate. How does that make sense?

“That could be make or break for a team, and if they’re going off what their gut feel is, or what they perceive to be slow, they’re going to get themselves in a bit of trouble.”

Last week, the ICC introduced in-match penalties for slow overrates in T20 internationals, where the fielding side is permitted one less player outside of the 30-yard circle if the innings is not completed by the scheduled time.

It was a rule that worked effectively in last year’s The Hundred competition, helping eradicate slow overrates in the tournament.

Sydney Thunder captain Chris Green, who commentated in The Hundred, was a huge fan of the rule change.

“It’s far better than fining teams and players money,” he said. “If you’re slightly down on the overrate, you bring an extra man in the ring, and that’s the punishment for being slow … it’s your thing to cop as a fielding team.

“I think that’s the way forward in the game in these tournaments.

“We’re trying our hardest to get them in as quick as we can … it’s bloody hard at times.”

The Sixers secured a comfortable 60-run victory over the Thunder on Saturday to slide up to second place on the BBL ladder.

Daniel Hughes top-scored for the men in pink, cracking 66 off 48 balls with seven boundaries and two sixes. He was supported by wicketkeeper Josh Philippe (57 off 35) and skipper Moises Henriques (47 not out off 27 balls) as the Sixers registered 5/197 from their 20 overs.

But the Thunder top-order faltered in the run chase, with the men in green crumbling to 8/80 in the 13th over.

Green top-scored for the Thunder, bringing up his maiden T20 fifty in 30 balls before Henriques ended his late cameo.

“I really enjoy my batting,” Green said. “I always back myself in those situations.

“The Sixers were coming hard at me, but I thrive on it. They were in a position where they could try to bully a couple of us, but I think we stood up and held our ground really well.

“I enjoyed myself out in the middle, and it’s great to get that time because you never know, later in the tournament I might have to hit some winning runs at different stages.”

Meanwhile, O’Keefe claimed 4/18 in a damaging four-over spell that ranks as the third-best bowling performance by a Sixers spinner in BBL history.

Afghan superstar Rashid Khan is the only cricketer with more BBL wickets at a lower economy rate than O’Keefe.

The 37-year-old was named Player of the Match, but the veteran tweaker has no interest in returning next summer.

“I don’t think I’d sign (a new contract),” he said. “I think it’ll be highly unlikely for me to go around again next year. I’m just going to enjoy this year.

“It gets tougher and tougher each year to get up, and even tougher when you’re not training as much as you used to.

“It’ll be something that’ll probably be discussed in November, and we’ll see how everything is looking, but I won’t be searching for it (a new deal). We’ve got some great kids at the club who deserve an opportunity now.”

The Sixers will next face the Adelaide Strikers on Monday afternoon, while the Thunder will take on the Melbourne Renegades on Wednesday.

Best bowling performance by a Sixers spinner in the BBL

5/23 — Nathan Lyon vs HH, Dec 2015

4/14 — Steve O’Keefe vs MS, Dec 2021

4/18 — Steve O’Keefe vs ST, Jan 2022

4/23 — Nathan Lyon vs BH, Jan 2017

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