Cricket, like any sport, is a brand of entertainment. We, as devoted fans of the sport, pay to witness it in its brilliance. Yet, in modern-day cricket, fans are being beguiled out of their money by the inability to bowl 90 overs in a day.
The England v Sri Lanka series is a perfect example of this. 17 overs were lost in the first test at Lord’s, 7 at Headingley. While the Headingley test showed a vast improvement, it’s impossible to ignore the ridiculousness involved in the inability to bowl the full allocation.
There are many reasons for this. One is the length of time between balls and overs. Fast bowlers with long run-ups take an age to bowl overs, field changes, 12th men coming on the field to deliver a message after every over. The fielding side are hugely responsible for slow over-rates.
However, they aren’t the only cause. Batsmen certainly aren’t innocent – Jonathan Trott, a prime example. Time-wasting by tying shoelaces, constant ‘gardening’ and frequent mid-over chats with their partner. This is far from entertainment.
The third cause is the DRS, and in particular, LBW reviews. While I’m an advocate of DRS, I believe there to be issues in the way that LBW reviews are gone about. Often, third umpires will spent minutes attempting to decide whether a batsman hit the ball, only for Hawkeye to then show the ball missing the stumps. This results in a huge amount of wasted time, something that could easily be avoided.
If Hawkeye was to be checked before Hotspot, the time spent on LBW reviews would be diminished, thus increasing the amount of time in a session for overs to be bowled.
This is a major issue in cricket, and particularly so in the England-Sri Lanka series, mainly due to the fact that England have been playing tedious cricket.
Something needs doing to cut this problem out. County cricketers manage to bowl 96 overs in a day with no issues. Cutting out the unnecessary stoppages is one step. Another is to delay, and where necessary, reduce intervals. This is possibly the only way of speeding up all players. Run penalties wouldn’t work, because both parties are at fault. The current penalty, fines, are pointless in a match situation. The ICC need to step in and do something to preserve the brilliance of the sport.