Australia Test opener Usman Khawaja has played a vital role in convincing ICC to reduce penalties arising out of poor over rates. Khawaja was involved in discussions with ICC’s general manager cricket Wasim Khan as he raised the concerns of players regarding heavy financial and points penalties imposed on teams for falling behind the over rates.
A team was fined 20 per cent match fee for every over behind alongside points deduction that could potentially prove costly like in the case of Australia when they narrowly missed qualifying for the World Test Championship final during 2019-21 cycle.
However, after hearing the concerns, ICC has reportedly agreed to reduce the financial penalty to 5 per cent of match fee for each over short and also capped it to a maximum of 50 per cent which could earlier go as high as 100 per cent.
Additionally, should a team be able to bowl out an opponent inside 80 overs, the slow over-rate penalty won’t kick in (earlier it was 60 overs).
“I was pretty frustrated with what was happening. I just thought someone has to find a way to speak to the ICC about it,” Khawaja told reporters.
“We had played three games and they’d been three really good games with results, entertainment. And we were getting fined a lot of money. It’s just really frustrating as a player, you are giving it your all out there, providing entertainment, then you are getting stung for it,” he added.
The new regulations will be backdated to the start of the current WTC cycle meaning both England and Australia will benefit. They were fined 40 per cent of their match fee and two points docked apiece for Edgbaston Test while heavier penalties were expected for the Lord’s Test.
“Wasim was really good,” Khawaja said. “We talked, he took the feedback. To his credit, it wasn’t just listening and no action. Actions happened within one or two weeks. We are trying to go as fast as we can. It’s the conditions that make it hard for us. If you are in India, we are never behind the over-rate – two spinners going at it. We were getting results, that’s what was frustrating. Think England were frustrated with it, too.”
Khawaja though reportedly wanted the fine to reduce to 2.5 per cent of the match fee with Australia Test captain Pat Cummins and coach Andrew McDonald also becoming part of the discussions.
“I’m still pushing for, if you get a result in the game before tea on the last day, you shouldn’t get a fine,” Khawaja said. “You’ve got you what you wanted. It’s cricket. You’ve got laws and rules. They’ve been there for a very long time. Sometimes you just have to look back on them and to see if you need an update a little bit.”
Australia had bowled out England inside 80 overs at Edgbaston and repeated it during the first innings at Lord’s meaning they will cop less fines and points deduction should the rules be backdated.
Under the old rules, both the teams were staring at losing their entire match fees with Australia set to be docked as high as 13 points. As part of WTC, each win results in a team pocketing 12 points.
The new regulations will see these punishments significantly reduced.
“The Men’s Cricket Committee felt strongly that over-rate penalties in the form of WTC points deductions should remain but recommended that players should not have 100% of their match fee at risk. We believe this provides a balance between maintaining over-rates and ensuring we are not deterring players from playing Test cricket,” said Sourav Ganguly, the chairman of ICC Men’s Cricket Committee.