Front-foot no-ball technology will be used at a major tournament for the first time in this month’s women’s Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.
- The method, which sees the third umpire watching the front foot’s landing, has been trialled in India and the West Indies
- It is currently the on-field umpire’s job to call front-foot no balls
- David Warner was famously caught out on 99 during a 2017 Ashes Test before being recalled due to an overstep
The International Cricket Council (ICC) revealed the television umpire would monitor the landing foot of bowlers after every ball and immediately communicate to the on-field umpires whether it was a legal delivery.
The decision follows successful trials conducted across 12 games in both India and the West Indies, which saw 4,717 balls bowled and 13 no balls called. The ICC said all deliveries were judged accurately.
It is currently the responsibility of the on-field umpires to call no balls when a bowler oversteps the mark, but the third umpire can then review whether the bowler had any part of his or her foot behind the crease.
“Cricket has an excellent track record of introducing technology to support the decision making of our match officials and I’m confident this technology will reduce the small number of front-foot no-ball errors at the Women’s T20 World Cup,” ICC general manager Geoff Allardice said in a statement.
“No balls are difficult for umpires to call accurately, and even though the percentage of deliveries that are no balls is low, it is important to call them correctly.
“Since we first trialled this concept in the ODI series between England and Pakistan in 2016 the technology has improved significantly, enabling us to introduce it cost effectively and with minimum impact on the flow of the game.”
That has led to numerous scenes of players being given out, only to be recalled or stopped at the boundary for no reason before being sent on their way to the pavilion.
One of the most famous recent cases of this was when Australia opener David Warner was caught out on 99 during the 2017/18 Ashes series, before being called back due to an overstep by Tom Curran and reaching his century on the next delivery.
Warner was again on the receiving end of the reprieve in November last year when Pakistan rookie Naseem Shah was denied his first Test wicket by a no ball in the first Test at the Gabba.
The incidents regularly prompt rebukes from commentators, including former players, with Channel Seven’s broadcast identifying 21 uncalled oversteps in the lead-up to Naseem’s non-dismissal of Warner.
“If a bowler is told it’s a no ball, you can bring [your run-up] back and you’ve got space to work with,” former Test seamer Trent Copeland said on the telecast.
“But the other [issue is] that’s 21 runs to the batting team that should be on the total. This is a big issue that I think needs to be addressed from the ICC worldwide.”
And now it has.
South Africa paceman Kagiso Rabada has been suspended for a Test after an overzealous celebration of a dismissal in the third Test against England.
- Kagiso Rabada ran down the pitch and screamed right next to Joe Root after bowling out the England captain
- Rabada was fined 15 per cent of his match fee for the level-one offence, but an accumulation of offences means he is suspended
- The offences include two in the same Test of Australia’s ill-fated 2018 tour of South Africa
Rabada ran down the pitch and let out a prolonged scream about a metre away from Joe Root after removing the England captain’s off stump on day one of the Test in Port Elizabeth.
The Proteas star was found to have breached article 2.5 of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) code of conduct, relating to “using language, actions or gestures which disparage or which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batter upon his or her dismissal during an international match”.
Kagiso Rabada screams right next to Joe Root
Rabada was fined 15 per cent of his match fee by the ICC for the level-one offence, but because it was his fourth violation of the code of conduct in the past 24 months, he will now miss the fourth Test in Johannesburg.
The offences date back to February 2018, when he gave India batsman Shikhar Dhawan a send-off during a one-day international.
The next month he copped two whacks from the ICC during the ill-fated Test series against Australia, after giving aggressive send-offs to Steve Smith, including a light bump of shoulders, and David Warner in the second Test.
That run of offences came on the back of a suspension for a Test in July 2017, which was also due to an accumulation of four demerit points, that time in the space of five months.
In commentary of the current series, former England skipper Michael Atherton said Rabada was “a slow learner, because he’s done it before”.
“But I don’t have a problem with that celebration … it’s a little overzealous and it’s a little close to Joe Root, but is that worthy of a demerit point and subsequent ban? I don’t think so,” Atherton said.
“You’ve got to allow players some leeway. It’s baking hot, he’s charging in and he’s not swearing at the opposition, he’s not abusing the opposition.”
One of the West Indies’ greatest fast bowlers, Michael Holding, agreed that the system was unfortunately set up, but that Rabada should have been smarter.
“You’ve got to understand the conditions under which you’re playing,” Holding said.
@MichaelVaughan: Rabada getting a 1 game ban for celebrating taking the Wicket of the opponents best player is absolutely bonkers … Over rates & slow play nothing gets done … Celebrate a wicked and you are banned … The World is bloody nuts
“If you’re driving on the road and the speed limit is 30 miles per hour, whether it’s in a school zone or you’re on the highway and you think ‘oh this is too slow’, you still have to abide by the speed limit.
“If you want to go over the speed limit, go, but if you get caught don’t complain. It’s as simple as that.
“You know the playing conditions under which the ICC have put down their code of conduct; do not abuse it.”
‘When it gets smoky, we’re coming off’: Tim Paine says officials watching air quality for Sydney Test
Australian skipper Tim Paine says he is not concerned about the possibility of play being lost at the Sydney Test due to poor air quality, but admits that if conditions get too smoky, players will have to come off the SCG.
- Any decision on whether to stop play due to bushfire smoke or haze will be made by ICC match referee Richie Richardson
- However Cricket Australia has been speaking to officials and the ICC over smoke protocols
- Two ODI matches between Australia and New Zealand in March will raise funds for the Australian Red Cross to help those affected by bushfires
The final match in Australia’s series against New Zealand will be played amid a continuing bushfire emergency in New South Wales.
A series of blazes on New Year’s Eve on the state’s South Coast led to seven deaths and the destruction of hundreds of homes. Huge fires are also raging across the border in eastern Victoria.
Conditions are expected to deteriorate on Saturday, with 40 degree Celsius temperatures and high winds, including the Western Sydney area.
While no fires are expected in the vicinity of the SCG, if smoke reaches the ground and visibility or air quality becomes an issue, play could be stopped.
That final decision would rest with ICC match referee and former West Indian Test great Richie Richardson and the umpires, based on monitoring of air quality readings.
McGrath Foundation tweet: The team sheets are in and the pink baggies are on! Get ready for #AUSvNZ in the 2020 Pink Test! #PinkTest
“At the moment I’m not [concerned], but we’re lucky that in the Australian set-up we’ve got world-class doctors and people that are put in place to make those decisions,” Paine told reporters at the SCG.
“As a playing group we’re just focusing on what we can control, which is going out and playing, and we’ll be doing that until we’re told otherwise.
“I’ve been given a sort of rough guide, but basically when it gets smoky, we’re coming off.
“Our doc I think is having a pretty big say in reading the levels of air quality and stuff like that so I think it’s all set, we know the number. If it happens it happens, and unfortunately that’s life.”
Although Richardson has the final say, Cricket Australia will have heavy involvement and has been communicating with match officials and the ICC over smoke protocols.
Cricket Australia has vowed not to put players, officials and fans at risk.
Doctors will be told to provide officials with feedback from players, particularly if they are having difficulty breathing or experience sore eyes.
“We won’t be putting the players’ health at risk, nor will we be putting the health of match officials, fans at the match or our own employees at risk,” CA boss Kevin Roberts said.
“That is something we will be monitoring consistently through the five days’ play. It’s a day-by-day proposition.
“We’ve been working closely with the ICC and working with the Environment Department in NSW as well.
“It’s fair to say it’s a collaborative exercise and we will continue to take advice from the experts.”
A Big Bash League Twenty20 match has already been called off this summer because of smoke haze and conditions deemed unhealthy for players.
ABC Grandstand tweet: "We certainly owe them a great deal of admiration for all the hard work they're doing in trying to keep our community safe." @CricketAus captain has continued praise for firefighters across Australia. #AUSVNZ
Part of the challenge is the range in air quality guidelines, with the NSW Government determining a reading of 200 as hazardous and the ICC having that level at 300.
Australian officials have previously implemented a heat policy in first-class cricket, and will aim to have more frameworks around air quality implemented for next season.
“If we have smoke delays that even go collectively for as long as a day then we can still fit in the amount of overs over the course of the match,” Roberts said.
“We need to be treating this like rain delays, but smoke delays. That was a simple piece of wisdom to come out of (preparations).
“It was incumbent of us to understand the risks, what alternatives we have to deal with those risks.”
Black Caps tweet: Decent crowd in to watch us have a net at the SCG #AUSvNZ #cricketnation @RossLTaylor @NeiWagner13
Play can be extended by half an hour on the day of any delay, and by half an hour on any subsequent day to make up time.
The New Zealand touring side has another health issue ahead of the match, with skipper Kane Williamson and teammate Henry Nicholls missing training for the second day running due to flu-like symptoms.
The Black Caps’ Tom Latham said Williamson was expected to play.
However, late on Thursday, the New Zealand team announced that Auckland batsman Glenn Phillips was being flown in as cover for the third Test, in case Williamson and/or Nicholls were unavailable.
ODIs to be used to raise funds for bushfire victims
Cricket Australia announced that on day one, players from both teams would wear black armbands and would pay tribute to those fighting the fires during the anthem ceremony.
This will be followed by a minute’s applause.
While fundraising at the Sydney Test — also known as the Pink Test — will as usual go towards the McGrath Foundation, CA and the SCG Trust say the two-match ODI series between Australia and New Zealand in March will be dedicated to raise funds for the Australian Red Cross in support of those affected by the bushfires.
Player’s shirts from the Boxing Day Tests will be auctioned online from Thursday, with proceeds going to the Australian Red Cross.
The Australian men’s team wants Test matches to continue to be contested over five days, amid speculation they will be played across a four-day format in the future.
- Travis Head has joined Australia captain Tim Paine in supporting the retention of five-day Tests
- The ICC is reportedly looking at the option of reducing Tests to four days
- Cricket Australia wants the idea of four-day Tests considered to protect the interests of the game
A reduction in the length of men’s Tests by even one day would be a dramatic overhaul for the game, but the International Cricket Council is reportedly considering using four-day fixtures as part of the World Test Championship from 2023 onwards.
Cricket Australia (CA) had already raised the idea of adopting an abridged version of the traditional format and the fact the national men’s team has won all four of its Tests so far this domestic season with a day to spare may add to its growing interest.
But Australia captain Tim Paine — speaking after his side’s 247-run triumph over New Zealand in the Boxing Day fixture at the MCG — declared he wanted Test matches to stay as five-day fixtures.
Paine was on Tuesday supported by Australia teammate Travis Head, who similarly dismissed the idea of Tests being contested in a four-day timeframe.
“Five days, I think, is the ultimate test,” Head said in Sydney ahead of Australia’s final Test against New Zealand starting on Friday.
“I guess we’ve gone through a rare period now where we’ve been able to win a couple of Tests in four days. But it’s quite rare.”
Paine had highlighted this year’s Ashes series in England as proof that Tests should be played across five days, with three of the five matches having stretched into the final day.
“We might not have got a result in the Ashes had we done that (reduced the length),” he said.
“I think that’s the point of difference with Test cricket. It’s five days, it’s harder mentally, it’s harder physically and it tests players more than the four-day first-class fixtures do.
“I think that’s what it’s designed to do. I hope it stays that way.”
Head, who scored his second Test century in the Boxing Day clash, said keeping the five-day format meant tactics played a more significant role, especially with pitch conditions varying late in matches.
“I think that (five-day Tests) plays a lot with the wicket, brings spin into play,” he said.
“So I’d like to keep it at five days.”
CA wants four-day Tests ‘seriously’ considered
The sentiments of Head and Paine are seemingly at odds with CA’s appetite for four-day Tests.
CA chief executive Kevin Roberts said the reduced length of Tests was an idea cricketing authorities around the world needed to “seriously consider”.
Roberts questioned whether five days was still appropriate for Tests.
“It’s something that can’t be driven by emotion but by fact — what’s the average length of Test matches over the last five to 10 years both in terms of time and overs,” he told SEN during the Boxing Day Test.
“In the interests of fans and the health of the game, we need to make sure over rates don’t continue slowing.”
Retired England captain Michael Vaughan said it made sense to consider introducing four-day Tests.
He cited financial reasons, and the need to grow crowds and cricket’s global audience as why he believed five days was no longer the best format.
“If you actually dissect a five-day Test match, the fifth day is costing the game a lot of money,” Vaughan wrote in the British newspaper The Telegraph.
“We always have to remember that cricket is an entertainment business. At the minute the white-ball game has overtaken Test cricket.
“Apart from those of us who already love Test cricket, I don’t think Test cricket has done enough to reach a new audience.
“So we need to make it more relevant and more appealing. It might just bring a little more relevance if it gets shortened.”