Monday, April 08, 2024

Exaggerated concern about the over rate will be the death of cricket

Imagine you were in the crowd on the last afternoon of weather-ruined county game. England's best young batsman has just reached his hundred.

What would you like to happen next?
  1. Harry Brook goes on batting until the umpires call play off;
  2. Yorkshire declare and hurry though a few meaningless overs to get their over rate up.
I think we'd all vote for 1., but 2. is what happened. And it happened because the game's authorities have convinced themselves that what spectators really care about is the over rate.

When I was a boy, the moral panic in English cricket was about the bowling of no balls. Just as with slow over rates, most of the solutions proposed would have done more harm to the game than the original problem,

And they would have harmed it in much the same way: by discouraging fast bowling and encouraging medium pace trundling.

What spectators there were at Headingley today will remember seeing a Brook century. They won't remember what the over rate was.

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