ICC to introduce stopwatch to regulate pace of play

ICC to introduce stopwatch to regulate pace of play

In a radical step to regulate the pace of play, the ICC has said it will experiment with a stopwatch between overs. A penalty of five runs will be imposed on the bowling side if they fail to start the new innings three times in an innings within one minute.

The measure, which was approved by the chief executives committee, will be limited to men’s ODIs and T20Is and will be tested on a “trial” basis for six months between December and April 2024. The first instance in which it will be used will be in the upcoming three-match ODI series between the West Indies and England, which begins on December 3.

“The clock will be used to regulate the amount of time elapsed between overs,” the ICC said in a press release on Tuesday. “If the bowling team is not ready to bowl the next over within 60 seconds of the completion of the previous over, a five-run penalty will be imposed for the third time this happens in an innings.”

In 2022, the ICC had introduced an in-match penalty in ODIs and T20Is in both men’s and women’s cricket to combat slow over rates. Currently, as per the playing conditions, the penalty for both formats is: if the fielding team does not start the final within the stipulated time, a fielder from outside the 30-yard circle will be deducted.

The third referee, using a stopwatch, regulates the time taking into account interruptions, before transmitting it to the match referees on the field. The rule was introduced in T20Is in January and in ODIs during the World Cup qualifiers in June-July earlier this year. That penalty is in addition to the monetary fines teams have to pay for slow over-rates under ICC playing conditions.

Having a stopwatch is not an unprecedented move in the sport, as tennis uses the “shot clock,” where a player has 25 seconds to prepare to serve between points. The ‘shot clock’ was also suggested by the MCC World Cricket Committee in 2018 to combat slowness in all three formats. The MCC committee, which included former international captains Ricky Ponting, Sourav Ganguly and Kumar Sangakkara, had recommended that the ‘shot clock’ be used during the ‘time out’ of a match.

The clock, as Ponting had explained at the time, would not run during a finale. “It is the time out in the game, so at the end of the over the fielders and bowlers have to get back in position and ready to bowl at a certain time. That is non-negotiable. The same goes for the new “Bassman reaches the crease: The bowling team has to be ready when the batsman gets there and has had a certain amount of time.”