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Indian team slammed for slowing down game

Match referee Chris Broad has written in his official review of the series that Indian batsmen were constantly slow in getting onto the field at the fall of a wicket, reports Anand Vasu.

cricket Updated: Dec 17, 2008 01:38 IST
Anand Vasu

The Indian team is rightfully riding a wave of euphoria after their historic win over England at Chennai but they might just curb their enthusiasm when they see that Chris Broad, the match referee has the same views as Ricky Ponting and Matthew Hayden when it comes to the role they play in slowing down the game.

"Indian batsmen were constantly slow in getting onto the field at the fall of a wicket, therefore affecting the over-rate. No matter how many times I asked them to hurry up, it seemed to go in one ear and out the other without registering," wrote Broad in his official review of the series."

Soon after the Test series against Australia, Ponting (later endorsed Matthew by Hayden) had said that Indian batsmen took inordinately long to face up and that people moving in front of the sightscreen was a problem especially encountered in this part of the world.

Broad's observations seem to back this up. "Not once during the series did we finish a day's play on time at 4.30 pm. On most occasions, the additional half hour was used and we also lost a number of overs from the game that could not be bowled."

Broad draws attention to the bigger picture, explaining how this could affect Test cricket at large at a time when it is struggling to compete with more glamourous forms of the game. "This was a very interesting and fiercely competitive series between two really good teams but I look at the dwindling crowds in these parts and wonder whether the paying public are really happy with seeing captains involved in long discussions with fielders and bowlers, fielders spending an age putting on protective equipment and batsmen taking additional drinks breaks when they rightly expect to see playing action from the teams," wrote Broad, bringing to light a radical solution that Billy Bowden, one of the standing umpires in the current series came up with.

Broad says that one method was "to stop drinks coming onto the field except at the drinks interval or the fall of a wicket and no protective equipment being brought on or taken off during a session so the fielding side have to take onto the field what they require for that session."

While indicating that it was possible to get the game moving at a far better pace, Broad says that "this puts more onus on the umpires to badger players into being ready earlier than they are at present," while observing that this "would improve the intensity of the game and maybe keep the interest of the spectators for longer periods".

Any move to give Test cricket the stature it deserves will be welcomed, as it is silly to expect each match to be as engrossing as Chennai and draw crowds on its own.