MCC Committee Seeks Shot Clock, Standard Ball & Free Hit in Tests

The committee wants the proposed changes to come into effect in time for the upcoming ICC World Test Championship.

3 min read
The MCC has recommended the use of shot clocks, free hits and a standard ball in Test cricket.

A shot clock to prevent time wasting, a standard ball for the inaugural World Test Championship and a free hit for a no ball are among the steps proposed by the MCC World Cricket Committee to spice up the longest format.

The Committee, chaired by former England captain Mike Gatting and also featuring former India captain Sourav Ganguly, suggested some changes for Test cricket in a meeting held in Bengaluru last week. The proposals were put out by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) on its website on Tuesday, 12 March.

Slow over-rate is a regular phenomenon in the five-day format and has contributed to driving away fans, said the MCC Committee on the need for introducing a shot clock.

“When asked what the main barriers were for attending Test Cricket, 25% of fans from England, Australia, New Zealand & South Africa mentioned slow over rates.”

“In those countries, where spinners bowl fewer overs, the full 90 overs are sometimes not bowled in a day, even with the extra 30 minutes,” said the MCC.

“Whilst the Decision Review System (DRS) was partly responsible for the delays, the committee felt that a series of measures should be introduced to help to speed up the game.”

MCC Committee Recommendations

  • A timer, to be shown on the scoreboard, to count down from 45 seconds from the call of “Over”. (This would be increased to 60 seconds for a new batsman on strike and 80 seconds for a change of bowler). If either side is not ready to play when the clock reaches zero, they would receive a warning, with further infringements in that innings resulting in five Penalty runs being awarded to the opposition.
  • A similar timer to be used at the fall of wickets, potentially with variable times, depending on the distance from the dressing rooms to the pitch, and at drinks breaks. Batsmen and fielders should be in position before the clock reaches zero.
  • During DRS reviews, the standard protocol should be cut short as soon as the TV production team is aware that it will be Not out. For example, time is often spent trying to discern an inside edge for LBWs, only to see, for example, that the ball was missing the stumps. As soon as the ball tracking has been loaded, if it will result in a Not out decision, the TV umpire should be informed immediately.
Another major recommendation was using a standard ball in the World Test Championship which will begin after the World Cup. At the moment, the SG ball is used in India, Dukes in England and West Indies, and Kookaburra in other countries including Australia and South Africa.

Players have expressed their ball preference in recent times, including India skipper Virat Kohli and premier off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who gave his approval for the red Dukes.

The Committee also suggested that free hits be introduced after no balls in Test matches.

“The system is used in the white-ball formats and the added deterrent results in there being fewer No balls than in Tests. For example, England recently had a spell of 45 ODIs without bowling a No ball, yet they bowled eleven in the three Test series against the West Indies.

“The system would not only be exciting for crowds when there was a Free Hit, but also it would help to speed up over rates, if fewer No balls are bowled,” the MCC statement added.

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