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All I want for Christmas

by Homer

is a ban or a fine, or both! Let me explain -

16 Dec day 1 - South Africa 1st innings 262/4 (JH Kallis 112*, JP Duminy 38*, 90 ov) - 90 overs

17 Dec day 2 - England 1st innings 88/1 (AJ Strauss 44*, IJL Trott 18*, 23 ov) SA all out 153.2 overs + 2 overs for change of innings + 23 -90 = 89 overs

18 Dec day 3 - South Africa 2nd innings 9/1 (GC Smith 6*, PL Harris 2*, 4 ov) GB all out in 104 overs + 2 overs for change of innings + 4 -23 = 87 overs

19 Dec day 4 - England 2nd innings 11/1 (AN Cook 4*, JM Anderson 6*, 6 ov) SA declared 85.5 overs + 2 overs for change of innings + 6 - 4 = 88 overs

20 Dec day 5 - England 2nd innings 228/9 (96 ov) - end of match - 90 overs

On the final day, play went on 44 minutes past the scheduled close of play.

From BBC Sport -   Day 1 start 0832 end 1546 - Duration 7 hrs 14 mins
                           Day 2 start 0833 end 1600 - Duration 7 hrs 27 mins  
                           Day 3 start 0834 end 1600 - Duration 7 hrs 26 mins  
                           Day 4 start 0835 end 1558 - Duration 7 hrs 23 mins
                           Day 5 start 0833 end 1628 - Duration 7 hrs 55 mins

Now, from the ICC's Standard Test Match Playing Conditions

16.1 Start and Cessation Times
The Home Board shall determine the hours of play, subject to there being 6 hours scheduled play per day (Pakistan, a minimum of 5 hours), and subject to:

16.1.1 Minimum Overs in the Day
Subject to clause 16.1.2 below:
a) On days other than the last day, play shall continue on each day until the completion of a minimum target of 90 overs (or a minimum of 15 overs per hour) or the completion of the scheduled or rescheduled cessation time, which ever is the later but provided that play shall not continue for more than 30 minutes beyond the scheduled or rescheduled cessation time (permitted overtime). For the sake of clarity, if any of the minimum target number of overs have not been bowled at the completion of the permitted overtime, play shall cease upon completion of the over in progress. The overs not bowled shall not be made up on any subsequent day. b) On the last day, a minimum of 75 overs (or a minimum of 15 overs per hour) shall be bowled during the playing time other than the last hour of the match where clause 16.1.6 below shall apply. If any of the minimum of 75 overs, or as recalculated, have not been bowled when one hour of the scheduled playing time remains, the last hour of the match for the purposes of clause 16.1.6 shall be the hour immediately following the completion of these overs.
16.1.5 Change of Innings
Where there is a change of innings during a days play (exceptwhere the change of innings occurs at lunch or tea or when playis suspended for any reason) 2 overs will be deducted from theminimum number of overs to be bowled.The over in progress at the end of an innings is regarded as acompleted over for the purposes of determining the minimumnumber of remaining overs to be bowled in the day.

16.1.6 Last Hour
Law 16.6, 16.7 and 16.8 will apply except that a minimum of 15 overs shall be bowled in the last hour and all calculations with regard to suspensions of play or the start of a new innings shall be based on 1 over for each full 4 minutes (refer clause 16.1.9 below). On the final day, if both captains (the batsmen at the wicket may act for their captain) accept that there is no prospect of either side achieving a victory, they may agree to finish the match after (a) the time for the commencement of the last hour has been reached OR (b) there are a minimum of 15 overs to be bowled, whichever is the later.

15 Law 15 - Intervals
15.1 Law 15.3 - Duration of intervals
15.1.1 Luncheon Interval: The interval shall be of 40 minutes duration.
15.1.2 Tea Interval: The interval shall be of 20 minutes duration.
Factoring in 2 drinks intervals per day ( of 4 mins duration each), we get

Day 1 Actual Playing Time 6 hrs 6 mins
Day 2 Actual Playing Time 6 hrs 19 mins  
Day 3 Actual Playing Time 6 hrs 18 mins  
Day 4 Actual Playing Time 6 hrs 15 mins  
Day 5 Actual Playing Time 6 hrs 47 mins


2 Calculating the Actual Over Rate
2.1 The actual over rate will be calculated at the end of each International Matchby those Umpires appointed to officiate in such International Match. In the case of Test Matches (or other International Matches of at least four days in duration), the actual over rate will be the average rate which is achieved by the fielding team across both of the batting team’s innings.
2.2 In calculating the actual over rate for an International Match, allowances will be given for the actual time lost as a result of any of the following:
2.2.1 treatment given to a Player by an authorised medical personnel on the field of play;
2.2.2 a Player being required to leave the field as a result of a serious injury;
2.2.3 all third Umpire referrals and consultations;
2.2.4 time wasting by the batting side (which may, in addition, constitute a separate offence pursuant to any of Articles 2.1.8, 2.2.11, 2.3.3 or 2.4.4 depending upon the context and seriousness of the incident); and 2.2.5 all other circumstance that are beyond the control of the fielding team.
2.3 In addition, the following time allowances will only be given in Test Matches (or other International Matches of at least four days in duration):
2.3.1 2 minutes per wicket taken, provided that such wicket results in the subsequent batsmen immediately commencing his innings.
For the avoidance of any doubt, no time allowance will be given for the final wicket of an innings or where a wicket falls immediately prior to any interval; and
2.3.2 4 minutes per drinks break taken (one per session).

2.5.2 where the actual over rate in any Test Match or any other International Match of at least four days in duration is more than five overs short of the Minimum Over Rate, or, in any One Day International Match, Twenty20 International Match or any other International Match of fifty (50) or twenty (20) overs per side, is more than two overs short of the Minimum Over Rate, such an offence shall be considered a ‘Serious Over Rate Offence’.


Day 1 there were 2 referrals. And 4 wickets fell - Extra playing time 6 mins
Day 2 there were 3 referrals. And 7 wickets fell - Extra playing time 19 mins
Day 3 there were 2 referrals. And 10 wickets fell.  Extra playing time 18 mins 
Day 4 there were 3 referrals. And 7 wickets fell    Extra playing time 15 mins
Day 5 there were 4 referrals And 8 wickets fell.    Extra playing time 47 mins.

Based on the above, there was a serious over rate problem on the part of the South Africans on Day 5. Which, by the defination laid down by the ICC, translates to a ‘Serious Over Rate Offence’

Which in turn means, "A captain guilty of a Serious Over Rate Offence is sanctioned "The imposition of two (2) Suspension Points."

So will my Christmas wish come true? Will Graeme Smith join MS Dhoni in cooling their heels as their teams play?

The ball then, is in Roshan Mahanama's court.


Jonathan said...

I've never understood why drinks intervals are left separately. No, that's not true - they need to be there for the unusual cases where there are additional drinks breaks. In any case, we have the interesting situation where finishing 12 minutes 'late' each day is automatically acceptable.

And that's where you've made a small error, Homer (there's another error in the day 4 calcs, too, but that doesn't change much). There are 3 drinks breaks. So after allowing for drinks, they were only 43min overtime. Allow for the wickets, and that becomes 27min. Allow for referals - without further details, we assume this is the actual time taken, but an average of 105s each brings the time under the "Serious" level. That's before we consider non-referred third umpire consultations, time-wasting by the English (where have I heard that before?) or any other things not so easy to track down.

Mind you, the ICC doesn't care about a single day. They have to take an average (sic - mathematically, the rules are a bit confused, although it's clear what they mean) over both innings. That's even more work for anyone to make any sense of it, but it looks like that would help Smith.

Fair? That's a big question.
Objective, in the sense that the referee should be able to produce reasonably unquestionable working to justify any decision? Yes.
Simple? Definitely not.
At least we've learnt that the referee does actually have to do something for his pay.

Jonathan said...

I take that last bit back. It's up to the umpires to do the calculations (because they don't do enough already). Maybe the ball isn't in Mahanama's court, then.

I also wonder whether the meaning of the rules is that clear. Taking them more literally means that SA were nowhere near the "serious" limit, but it would also make the size of the distinction between Test and ODI ridiculous. I thought they couldn't possibly mean that, but this is the ICC, after all...

Homer said...


Whatever error there is, it is applicable to all 5 days. Positive or negative, it must apply across the board.

And even that does not explain the skew on Day 5. Firstly, the fact that the game went well over the proscribed time limit set by the ICC ( factoring in the extra half hour). And secondly, Days 1 and 5 were the only two days that saw the full complement of 90 overs being bowled.and the numbers of refererrals and wickets on Day 5 is exactly double of that on Day 1. And yet, timewise, the extra time on Day 5 is 8 times that on Day 1.

Which does not make sense!

At the very least, Smith has to cop a fine for his last day over rates, if not an outright ban.


Jonathan said...

Homer, days 1,4 and 5 saw the full 90 overs - 1 and 4 because they finished within the extra half an hour, day 5 because they keep going on the last day. (You lost two overs in the day 4 calculation.) As you say, the extra four minutes allowance applies across all days - England's rates are well within the code of conduct rules,.

Yes, the over rate was worse in day 5. Yes, in itself, it looks like it could have been bad enough for a fine, although I have no idea how much of it was caused by the batsman, and we haven't included 3rd umpire consultations (there was at least one), etc.

I think over rate should apply to each innings, but the ICC wants to average it. Taking the two innings together, at worst we have 200 overs in 834min actual playing time (1034min- 148min intervals -2min*[18wkts+7referrals+at least one consultation]) - around 3.5 short of 90 overs/day. That translates to a fine of 60-80% of the match fee as long as there were no (more) third umpire consultations, batsmen time-wasting (Cardiff anyone?), or things like sightscreen issues (but they only happen in "third world" countries like Australia). There could well be a fine of some order there, but definitely not a ban.

Homer said...


I can live with a fine, but even that does not seem to be forthcoming.


Jonathan said...


My calulation was the absolute worst case. Another 25-30 minutes could be blamed on other factors without too much of a stretch, bringing the deficit under 1ov/day. If the Roach dismissal is anything to go by, the ICC is not completely against explaining their decisions. Perhaps it's worth asking them directly for an explanation?

I wouldn't mind a bit of transparency!

Homer said...


Tis may be the season of perpetual hope, but asking for transparency from the ICC is really pushing it :)

Happy Holidays,

Jonathan said...

Indeed, Homer. There is asking, and there is expecting an answer...

It looks like Smith's position on the issue is fairly clear.