WORLD T20: USA hit with first-ever stop-clock penalty

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USA became the first team to be penalised according to the new stop-clock regulations put in place to speed up the pace of play in T20Is.

They suffered the penalty – which is imposed if the fielding side fails to start the next over within a minute of the previous one ending thrice in an innings – during a crucial phase of India’s chase in New York.

At the start of the 16th over of their T20 World Cup group game, India needed 35 runs and were in a tricky position on a tough batting pitch, but the equation was reduced to 30 off 30 balls after the penalty. India went on to beat USA by seven wickets with ten balls to spare.

The stop clock to help speed up over rates became a permanent feature in men’s ODIs and T20Is from June 1. The relevant regulation says: “The clock will be used to regulate the amount of time taken between overs. If the bowling team is not ready to bowl the next over within 60 seconds of the previous over being completed, a five-run penalty will be imposed the third time it happens in an innings.”

The trial for this playing condition had encouraging results in terms of over rates. “The results of the stop-clock trial were presented to the Chief Executives’ Committee (CEC), which demonstrated that around 20 minutes per ODI match had been saved in time,” the ICC had said when ratifying the regulation for all international limited-overs cricket played by men.

During the trial period, no team was found to have exceeded the one-minute limit between overs three times in an innings, which makes this the first five-run penalty for this offence.

The umpires were seen explaining what had happened to Aaron Jones, USA’s stand-in captain in the absence of the injured Monank Patel.

Following the defeat, USA were left needing a win or a no-result in their final match against Ireland to qualify for the Super Eight.

If they get no points from their last match, their chances of progressing could come down to net run-rate. India have sealed their place in the Super Eight with three wins in three games.

It’s not like the penalty took USA by surprise.

“Yeah, we talk about this,” USA coach Stuart Law said at a press conference after the game. “We had a few warnings in earlier games, and it’s something we do talk about to get through faster between the overs. It’s just one thing that we can improve on. I think that we’re only a fledgling team. There’s plenty to learn.

“There’s not just the cricket aspect of the game of cricket, but there’s also the other intricacies that need to be embedded [among the players]. It’s a rule that’s only just come in. A lot of our players wouldn’t have heard about it before we played in the Bangladesh series or the Canada series earlier this year. So, look, it’s something that we need to address, we’ll sit down and talk about, but we can improve it, yeah.”

Law said the umpires had said they had warned the USA players twice before imposing the penalty.

“Players know the rule, but it’s something that if you haven’t played with it for a long time, it’s very difficult to have it embedded in your brain,” Law said.

“So, the information coming from the umpires was, they were given two clear warnings, then it’s up to the players to respond. And we didn’t respond fast enough, we didn’t do it well enough, and that’s something we can address.”

One thing for every team to learn from this is that Law didn’t put the defeat down to it despite the critical moment it came at. He said it didn’t even affect the players because eventually it was just five runs in a 40-over game.

“It didn’t affect the result of the game as many people will suggest. But to lose five runs was crucial at that time. But, once again, it may have just taken us to the 19th or 20th over, rather than finishing it in the 18th”

Stuart Law: “I don’t think it affected the outcome of the game,” he said. “Five runs wasn’t going to affect the outcome of the game so I don’t think it rattled [the players]. No, I thought we stuck to our guns, we fought hard, we fought to the death. I thought we showed some fantastic character against one of the best teams in the world.”

Law had no issues with the ICC trying to speed up the game. He was asked if such measures might compromise the quality of cricket played, and replied, “I think there needs to be a pace of play. I think if you’re dragging games out that should last three-and-a-half hours, they’re going for four-and-a-half hours, that’s a bit much. The ICC are there to install rules and regulations. We as coaches and teams are there to follow those rules and regulations.

“If there’s enough voices saying that it may be detracting from the game, I’m sure the ICC will act to it. I don’t see it as a bad thing, I see it as a good thing. The game continues to move. When momentum is with you, you want to keep that momentum running quicker and put the opposition under pressure that way.

“So it’s neither here nor there. It didn’t affect the result of the game as many people will suggest. But to lose five runs was crucial at that time. But, once again, it may have just taken us to the 19th or 20th over, rather than finishing it in the 18th.” (ESPNcricinfo)

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