Guest Post – Andy On Over Rates

Given that over rates have been topical in the last Test, and again today, with only 80 overs bowled (counting as 82 with the change of innings) we decided to bring forward a post that we’ve been looking to put up for a little while.  It seemed appropriate, and although it means no report on today, this is rather a report on a problem with Test cricket as it stands.

We’ve always welcomed guest contributions, and this from Andy is in our view a good one.

As always with people who post, treat them fairly, they aren’t the same as us curmudgeons, and remember, they’ve taken the time, their own time, to do this for us for which we are really grateful.

TLG/Dmitri – take it away Andy



Over rates – a ramble

First off I’d just like to say well done to Dmitri et al.  Just writing this article has put me through the mill with the amount of research & number crunching I’ve ended up doing.  Not sure I could do it as regularly as these guys. [enough of that nonsense…ed.]

Anyway – This started off as a comment in reply to something Chris wrote after day 1 of the Edgbaston test (I think, maybe Day 2).  Then it started getting longer and longer so I felt I couldn’t post it into the comments section – so I pinged Dmitri and offered an article for the blog, and so it grew into the monster you are about to read!

(Warning – this article has brought out my inner Nerd (Capital N), but that is not to say I can do maths, use excel properly or that my calculations are correct!!!)

One of the popular gripes of the modern fan is that over rates are rubbish.  90 overs in 6 hours should be more than manageable.  How can they only bowl 86 (day 1) or 81 (day 3).  That is just embarrassing – surely.  But, rather than grumble, I thought I’d look into it (and then bore you all with my findings).

 Begin the Begin

Where to start – well, how about with how long should a cricket match actually take?

I for one was not really sure whether a day’s play is 6 hours, or 90 overs, or how the extra half hour comes into play (this can make a big difference to the number of overs a side gets in), so let’s look at the ICC Standard Test Playing Conditions.

Condition 16.1 deals with the start / end times (I’ll paraphrase because it’s long and wordy).

– The home board determines the start and end times, so long as there are 6 hours play,

16.1.1 – Minimum overs in the day

– Play shall continue until the completion of a minimum target of 90 overs (or a minimum of 15 overs per hour) or the completion of scheduled time (but with no more than 30 minutes extra time).

So basically there should be at least 90 overs a day right.  Well – the Conditions say they can finish when 90 overs are bowled, or when time is up (6 hours), but critically it basically states that there will be no more than 6.5 hours play (assuming no rain/bad light delays – which is a whole other kettle of fish).

The extra half hour in effect mostly offsets the interruptions in play such as the fall of wickets and drinks (we will come back to this below).

 Can’t Get There From Here

Right – so can we get on with over rates now?  Back to the ICC Standard Test Playing Conditions state; (I’ll paraphrase again).

Condition 16.3 – Minimum over rates

The min over rate shall be 15 overs per hour

So in theory you get 4 minutes per over – Plenty of time!  This I think is where people stop reading.

The condition goes on to state;

The umpires should calculate the days overrate at end of the match and will average the rate for the fielding team across both batting innings – accounting for interruptions (such as injuries, drinks, reviews, wickets, timewasting etc).

In other words for everything that happens outside of the ball being bowled, played and fielded – then that time should be accounted for.  It can either be a positive or a negative allowance.  So the fielding side are not punished if the batsmen are deliberately timewasting, likewise it’s obvious if the fielding side are timewasting.  Also, if the rate is slow in the first innings, it could be balanced by the second (this may be important – keep reading to find out).

There are budgeted interruptions/allowances;

  • Wickets get 2 minutes
  • Drinks get 4 minutes (and should be 1 per session)
  • Change of innings lose 2 overs (but only if not taken at a regular break such as lunch/tea)

A review would be unbudgeted in that it could take 30 seconds or 3 minutes – depending on how easy/difficult it is.  I’m sure you can think of many interruptions that just seem to occur in Cricket!  For example – how is Anderson getting removed from the attack by the umpire accounted for?  How long did it take?

So where are we?  In (at most) 6.5 hours official play, we should be seeing 90 overs at on average 4 minutes per over – minus some odds and ends which are allowed to eat into the time.

Horse to Water

What does this mean in the real world then?  Now that the 3rd test has finished I can go and crunch some numbers and see how the over rates work out (can I just say that I wish time were metric as it would make excel so much easier).

We know from the Playing Conditions that the over rate is an average across each innings – not just how many overs are bowled per day or in a single innings, but overs bowled in the match against the time taken – so we have the following;

Pakistan’s over rate (so 1st and 3rd innings when England batted) was;


England’s over rate (so 2nd and 4th innings when Pakistan batted) was


Ah ha I hear you say – so the over rate was short and I’ve been short changed, and I’m owed money and the Captain should be banned, right!?!?!

Wwweeelllllll, not so I’m afraid.

These have been calculated based on the wickets falling, official drinks, a guesstimate of 3 minutes per review and no other distractions (even though I’m sure there were plenty… Jimmy…).

Another wrinkle is the ‘change of innings’ loss of 2 overs.  It doesn’t matter after England’s 1st innings (end of day 1), or Pakistan’s 1st innings (tea of day 3).  However the end of England’s 2nd innings was mid-morning on the 5th day – so 2 overs are removed from the required amount of overs to be bowled.  I suspect this is not given to either side in terms of a time allowance (as the 2 overs are lost between the end of one innings and the start of the next), but I could be wrong.  I haven’t included it in the above over rates.

Further to this – A little play with the spreadsheet (like I said, I’m a Nerd, I made a spreadsheet) suggests that there would only need to be 15 minutes of additional deducted time for Pakistan to get to 15 overs per hour for their match average (and only 5 minutes for England).

It’s eminently believable that 15 minutes could be accounted for with those extra drinks, changing gloves, moving the sight screen, or warnings to bowlers etc, especially across almost 3 days of Pakistan bowling.

Side note – Good umpires are supposed to make notes of every delay and its cause so that they can accurately calculate the over rate.  I don’t know if those out in the middle of a test make such notes (you do see them scribbling occasionally) or if they just leave that to the 3rd umpire.

I can well imagine the umpires only really enforcing a minimum over rate ruling if a Captain has been obviously taking the Piss and they cannot gain a bit of time here and there.

 Worst Joke Ever

Looking closer at the data, England’s bowling in the 1st Pakistan innings came out to 14.12 overs per hour– which was the worst innings rate in the match.  England only got near 15 overs per hour due to the exceptionally fast over rate of 16.71 they managed in the 2nd Pakistan innings.  It’s amazing what can be achieved when someone puts their mind to it.  Pakistan’s first bowling innings went at a respectable 15.13 while their 2nd bowling fell to 14.28.

So what are we going to do about day 3 when only 81 overs were bowled?  If I’ve got my spreadsheet working correctly it appears that the days over rate was a measly 13.61 overs per hour (accounting for deductions – but not the big one… Jimmy….).  Now both teams batted so who is to blame for the lack of overs.  Well, England bowled at 13.53 overs per hour while Pakistan bowled at 13.73 overs per hour.  Neither is great – but one is worse than the other.

But as I’ve just spent the last however many pages telling you – whether you like it or not, this doesn’t matter as it is the match rate that counts…


A Match is targeted for 90 overs, but the Playing Conditions state a game must finish after 6.5 hours – no matter what, and the fielding captain is not at risk of punishment so long as they have gone along at 15 overs per hour after allowances have been made for wickets, reviews etc (or whatever else the Umpire has decided to allow or ignore – depending on how rude any given team is I assume).

Which is not to say that it is fair to the fans that they don’t bowl 90 overs in a day…. Sorry Chris, you weren’t expecting an actual answer were you…

Please correct me if I have read/interpreted anything incorrectly.  I’m far from an expert.  Thanks for indulging me and well done to anyone who spotted the REM song titles.

Bonus section

If you have skipped to the end for the conclusion – you have gone too far, go back a bit, if not, you are in for some more fun…

So, we know that there should be a minimum 15 overs per hour (over the full days play), but what happens when this is breached?

From the ICC Players Code of Conduct

Condition 2.5 (and Appendix 2) – Minimum over rate offences (for test matches)

It is a minor offence if the over rate is up to 5 overs short

It is a serious offence if it is more than 5 overs short

For a 1st Minor offence the Fielding Captain is fined 20% of his fee per over that is short, while the players are fined 10% (I assume this is all the players not just bowlers or something silly).

For a 2nd Minor offence (within 12 months) the captain and players receive the same fine but the captain is suspended for one match (of the same format).

For a serious offence the players get the above fine for the first 5 overs, then a 20% fine for the overs missing beyond the first 5 overs.  The captain however starts accumulating (insert Jaws music here) Suspension Points.

Now, the Code doesn’t say the captain gets any fine for serious offences, but as he is a player – does he qualify for the fine in the above paragraph?  Who knows, I guess we will have to wait for it to happen to see!

Suspension points are a whole different topic and are wwwaaaayyyy to much of a diversion for this article.


England were last fined (in a test match) for the 5th Ashes test at the Oval last year for being ‘2 overs short of target’ – I’m guessing that the ICC calculate overs short whereas I’ve looked at how much time the umpires would need to account for… Maybe I should go and look at that match and bore you with those numbers as well….<tumble weed/>

Further reading

The ICC Playing Conditions and Code of Conduct are buried under the publications section of the website.  If you fancy a nap, they are just the thing.

I also came across these websites are I was reading up.  I wish to thank Thatscricket and cricketingview for researching an area of cricket that I am interested in (see what I’ve done there….Cough….FICJAM….Cough).

In all seriousness, they helped break down a few things and while my post and these tread similar ground, I hope I have managed to add value without copying!


23 thoughts on “Guest Post – Andy On Over Rates

  1. d'Arthez Aug 11, 2016 / 6:16 pm

    Actually MS Dhoni accrued a suspension for tardy overrates in India’s 2011/2012 tour to Australia – he missed the Test in Adelaide due to a suspension, if memory serves.


  2. Mark Aug 11, 2016 / 6:22 pm

    Congratulations on your article. You have obviously spent ages crunching the numbers.
    However my conclusion from all your hard work is the system is too frigging complicated. If it takes that amount of work to calculate how many overs are bowled, and how many exemptions from prosecution ( my term for all the allowed breaks) are permitted then the authorities have just lost the plot.

    There are too many mini breaks. Glove changes, drinks for batsman that come with the gloves. And Hawkeye reviews. Now this is a problem because people want the review system, and yet it can easily take 15 minutes out of a day’s play. (3 mins per review, 5 reviews a day) At 4 mins per over that’s almost 4 overs a day lost to reviews. And that’s before we get to injuries, physios, and just slow play. I’m not sure it’s that easy for umpires to be absolutely sure a fielding team is delaying things illegally when there are so many things they can pretend they require in kit changes; like shin pads for close fielders.

    The game is now played in ODI mode. So those at today’s game lost 8 overs. Yet they have seen well over 325 runs in a day, and 11 wickets fall. At that rate of entertainment people are not going to complain. The likelihood is this game will be done and dusted before the end of day 4. Who cares about 8 overs when an entire days 90 overs are not needed? If we start getting a rise in the number of drawn games it might become a bigger issue.

    We are looking at 325 over test matches these days. Might as well have just 80 overs per day, and finish at 6 pm with no extra time. Any captain who fails to achieve that is taken outside and shot. (Joke) The idea of 100 over per day, 4 day tests is a pipe dream. They will have to start at 10am and abolish the tea break and reduce lunch to half an hour. And we will still be there at 7pm


    • Andy Aug 12, 2016 / 8:28 am

      Cheers mark,

      To say it is complicated is an understatement. Like I said, this started off as a wee comment but got so unwieldy it was pointless to put it in that section. The more I read, the more complicated the numbers became.

      My numbers are best guess as I didn’t have access to the official timings, but even so – it is very much down to the whim of the umpire/match referee as to what is allowed ‘breaks’ wise.


  3. Sean B Aug 11, 2016 / 8:09 pm

    Agree, good and well researched article. 100 overs a day in four day tests – don’t make me laugh, will never happen, yet the paymasters will no doubt impose it. Another nail etc


    • Mark Aug 11, 2016 / 8:43 pm

      They will bring in the 4 day game, and then say afterwards “oh dear, we can’t seem to get the 100 overs in.”


  4. SimonH Aug 11, 2016 / 10:14 pm

    The only time in my cricket-watching life I’ve felt there was a clear effort to do something about over-rates was in the run-up to the last WC. Cook was banned for the 4th ODI of the seven match series in SL and I’m sure I remember that ABDV was banned in a SA warm-up game. I remember players running to their fielding positions and bowlers hurrying back to their marks. It showed it can be done when it’s the ICC’s flagship tournament.

    I agree that banning captains is the way to go. Penalty runs are too open to abuse and fines are water off a duck’s back to the megabucks’ teams. Play shouldn’t be extended beyond an extra half hour.

    There needs to be clamping down on both the recognised losses of time and the unrecognised ones. Some reviews go on interminably. There should be a stricter time limit or limit on the number of replays. More could be done about drinks’ breaks and equipment changes (although these aren’t easy areas with player safety involved). I wonder if some of the dawdling is tolerated (or worse) because it allows more time for ad breaks on TV?


    • LordCanisLupus Aug 11, 2016 / 10:25 pm

      The automatic drinks break, which is a reasonably recent thing, whether it is 90 or 50 degrees, is largely motivated so you can have a 2-3 minute batch of adverts to sell. It is every bit as cynical as the time out in the IPL and indeed many other sports. Watch the NBA, like I do, and you’ll notice that the first stoppage in play, be it a foul, an out of bounds etc. after 6 minutes played in each quarter, and there’s a TV timeout.

      Something needs to pay the bills.

      Saying, like today, that you saw 331 runs and 11 wickets makes it all OK is nonsense. Of course, the more extreme version was the 400 in 80 overs or so at Edgbaston on Day 1 in 2005. But that’s so not the point. It’s OK to short change the punters if it’s more entertaining? Really? We going there?


      • Mark Aug 12, 2016 / 1:36 am

        I agree that they should bowl the overs in the day. I was just saying the argument is always claimed that the public had 330 odd runs and 11 wickets today. So they say…… who cares how many overs are bowled?

        I still think we should take chunks out of the lunch break and tea break. I bet players don’t like losing their rest time so they will get on with it. They have no problem impinging on my time after 6 pm. See how they like losing their lunch break? Cricket has a fetish about time breaks. And fans trooping of to luch at a set time. (They make a tonne of money off catering)


    • d'Arthez Aug 12, 2016 / 4:44 am

      I have advocated before that if a referral can’t be solved within 30 seconds, there is too much doubt. Maybe 30 seconds is too short a time period, but you get the idea.

      I also get the impression that mistakes of the second order (the right decision overturned) become more prevalent the longer the third umpire looks at the footage (Lyon vs. New Zealand, Kallis gloving it through in 2012; and I seem to recall a few howlers that West Indies copped in South Africa also taking quite some time). Not scientific, but I suspect it is really the case that decision making declines with the luxury of copious amounts of time. All th more reason to look into it.

      Of course, that means that the Hawkeye projection should be run before the replays to determine whether bat is involved in lbws (in case the ball was not caught – you can’t be given lbw if the ball is not hitting enough of the stumps) – which can be confusing. But that does not mean the audience should be fed that projection first.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Andy Aug 12, 2016 / 8:25 am

        I think part of the reason that the hawkeye projection comes at the end is that it takes a little while to process the projected path. This is something that has sped up over the last few years so I don’t know if this still applies.

        It is frustrating when they spend time looking at front foot, looking at hot spot, then sniko (another one that takes a little bit of time to process) then find out that it was not hitting the stumps anyway.

        I’d guess that the ICC would argue that it is all part of the entertainment one derives from the match (which is why reviews are deducted from the time played)


    • d'Arthez Aug 12, 2016 / 5:11 am

      Banning captains the way to go? Don’t I remember Sri Lanka alternating captaincy between Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Malinga in the World T20 that Sri Lanka won, because of potential overrate bans?

      So, I have doubts that it will work, since nothing is stopping teams from rotating captaincies …



      • SimonH Aug 12, 2016 / 7:35 am

        On drinks’ breaks, perhaps cricket should follow football and have them only when the temperature is over a certain level. Players have ended up in hospital after long innings in hot weather (Dean Jones comes to mind) but, having said that, it happened to Shoaib Malik during his 245 in UAE so perhaps it is more down to the quality of medical support and player education than a drinks’ break as such.

        I don’t agree with taking time out of lunch and tea. These breaks are also for the spectators.

        I agree that if a review can’t be settled quickly, there’s too much doubt and the on-field decision should stand. The procedures could also be more flexible – it’s infuriating when they spend minutes trying to see if there’s an edge of an LBW when everyone knows it’s not pitched in line or is missing.

        SL were very unusual in rotating the captaincy. I can think of one team who couldn’t be captained by anybody other than one player! SL would still have been hit by losing one of their big players (which is how the captaincy ban mostly works in my opinion – the captain is usually a key player whereas most strategy is decided off the pitch now).

        It would be an interesting exercise to put some stop watches on a session and time where play was being lost.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Andy Aug 12, 2016 / 8:29 am

        I have a vague memory of england hinting that Cook got an over rate ban that was deliberate so that he wouldn’t risk a tournament ban. (presumably an upcoming ODI WC)

        Does that sound familiar to anyone else? or have I been drinking too much?


      • SimonH Aug 12, 2016 / 9:01 am

        Yes, that was the speculation on that SL tour.

        That was the one where Downton gave Cook a vote of confidence on Monday and sacked him on Wednesday. No wonder we don’t hear it mentioned very much and start to wonder if it ever really happened!


      • LeningradCowboy Aug 12, 2016 / 1:13 pm

        Just ban whoever is captain when the second infringement occurs.


  5. SimonH Aug 12, 2016 / 8:00 am

    Apologies for a digression, but does anyone happen to know who holds the record for a country holding the Olympic gold medal in an event for the most consecutive games?

    I heard that the South Korean’s women archery team won the gold for the 8th consecutive time and was wondering if that was a record.


    • Andy Aug 12, 2016 / 8:46 am

      not exactly what you where looking for – but I found this on wikipedia

      Armin Zöggeler, by winning bronze in men’s luge at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, became the first Olympian to capture a medal in the same event in six consecutive Olympics, thus holding the record for most consecutive Olympics with medal wins in the same event.[1]

      and also this from the guinness world records

      The most successive gold medal wins in Olympic history is six by Aladár Gerevich (Hungary) who was a member of the winning sabre team from 1932–60.


      • SimonH Aug 12, 2016 / 8:55 am

        Thanks Andy – that’s what all my searches kept turning up.

        I can’t seem to find any tally where a country wins consecutive medals but it isn’t necessarily the same individual.


  6. Andy Aug 12, 2016 / 8:40 am

    looking at the ICC news page, there are a lot more fines / suspensions for ODI / T20 over rate breaches as opposed to test matches.

    I’d guess this is because there are clearer limits to time / overs.


  7. Mark Aug 12, 2016 / 9:45 am

    The constant drinks thing is part of a modern trend to always be hydrated. That is why you see so many people carrying water bottles everywhere in public life. So they don’t get dehydrated. (Jerry Seinfeld does a funny stand up routine on this inability to go more than 15 minus without taking in fluid……. “How did I manage as a kid to have a drink from a water fountain and survive for the next 3 hours?”)

    it’s a big thing in medical sports science now. You see bowlers having water bottles down at fine leg and so forth. Michael Holding once argued that fielders should just leave the field if they wanted to do so anytime they liked, but they get no substitute. I agree with Simon there are times when it is really hot, and water intake is important, but hardly ever happens in England.

    I remember once in the early 1980s when the WI had a 4 man pace attack, and there was no limit on time cut off. They just carried on till they had bowled the 90 overs. They were still bowling at 7.15pm. That is not acceptable, and why there is a cut off time now.


    • thelegglance Aug 12, 2016 / 10:05 am

      That’s not why there’s a cut off – it’s because the TV companies wanted a specific time they’d know they could go off air and get on with their other programming. Channel 4 were the first to insist on it happening so they could ensure Hollyoaks went out on time. Channel 9 in Australia backed them up on it.


      • Mark Aug 12, 2016 / 11:14 am

        Right, I take your point it was actually the tv corporations that introduced the cut offs.

        But in a way it was the same principle as the poor sods sitting there for hours missing their trains and getting home late. There was a lot of criticism and grumbling at the time from commentators that they would be still be there at 7.30pm. It was not a one off event. I think a lot of people were happy when the cut off came into force, not just tv executives. Ironically it’s not such a big problem now for Sky if it over runs for an hour. Because they haven’t got to go to the news or hollyoaks.


  8. Keeper99 (@PaulKeeper99) Aug 12, 2016 / 3:08 pm

    As I write this we have just started the post-tea session on day two. Stuart Broad started running in to deliver the first ball at 3 minutes and 34 seconds after 4:00pm, in large part because one of the batsman hasn’t got his kit organised for the next session.

    I think the go-slow culture is so ingrained now that it would be near-impossible to change the attitudes behind it.

    One novel idea I heard suggested would be to fine the umpires. See which team is most willing to piss them off during the game!


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