London: A revised system for over-rate penalties in Test cricket has still resulted in major fines and points penalties for Australia and England at the end of the Ashes series, leaving Usman Khawaja fuming about the outcome.
Khawaja was quick to vent his frustration at the penalties announced by the ICC on Wednesday. Just weeks earlier, the Australian opener’s calls for the over-rate regime to be moderated led to changes, including reduced fines on players and the removal of penalties for tardiness in the field when an innings was completed inside 80 overs.
While neither side was hit by any sanctions for the fast-finishing Headingley Test, the Australians were slugged 10 World Test Championship points and 50 per cent of their match fees (about $100,000 in total) for being 10 overs behind the rate during England’s big first innings at Old Trafford.
England were handed penalties worth a collective tally of 19 WTC points for over rate transgressions at Edgbaston, Lord’s (45 per cent of match fees, about $110,000), Manchester (15 per cent, about $30,000) and the Oval (25 per cent, or $58,000).
That has left Australia in third place on the WTC table and England fifth, with each needing to do some major catch-up work in the remaining series of this cycle. Australia missed the inaugural WTC decider in 2021 due to an over rates penalty.
For Khawaja, who had helped broker a compromise with the ICC’s head of cricket Wasim Khan, the outcome was frustrating given the fact that rain meant Australia did not bowl at all in their second innings – theoretically a chance to catch up overs, although by not selecting a spin bowler this was never likely.
Earlier in the series, he had explained the decision to seek a tweak that rewarded teams for bowling the opposition out quickly.
“I just thought someone has to find a way to speak to the ICC about it,” Khawaja said. “We had played three games and they’d been three really good games with results, entertainment, the WTC [final] was the highest-watched Test match ever or something like that. Just really good stuff. And we were getting fined 80 per cent of our match fee. It’s a lot
“Just really frustrating as a player, you are giving it your all out there, providing entertainment then you are getting stung for it. Just felt like I needed to speak and Wasim was really good, got him on text, called him, we talked. He took the feedback. Patty talked to him, Andrew McDonald talked to him and to his credit it wasn’t just listening and no action. Actions happened within one or two weeks.
“They came back to use, there was a bit of compromise. 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. I think England were frustrated with it, too.”
Khawaja had said that he was still pushing for further tweaks to the system, and some other ideas included fines based on relative over rates during the same match or series, depending on the conditions under which they are played.
“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 what you wanted. It’s only after that maybe you’ve got a chance to hurry up the game but it’s one of those things.
“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 see if you need an update a little bit.“
Prior to the Oval Test, Australia’s captain Pat Cummins had discussed why he thought the over rates had been so tardy throughout.
“It feels like there’s different plans every second over, or every over, every couple of balls. One batter might have a totally different plan to another one,” he said. “So there’s lots of field movement. A lot more fast-bowling overs than there ever has been.
“No Nathan Lyon [from the third Ashes Test onwards]. A combination of those things. This series is maybe that little bit higher-pressure, and it’s not only the fielding side but you see the batters taking that little bit of extra time.”
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