This was perhaps in the offing. Kumar Sangakkara’s ban for a match didn’t take me by surprise. After being penalised twice in five games for the same offence, the third faux pas had to be dealt with severely. Yet, it would be naive to take the slip-up as just that. Had that been the case, the fine of $140,000 (Rs 64 lakh) would’ve undoubtedly served as a deterrent. Perhaps, there is more to the story than what meets the eye.
Since it takes only four minutes to finish an over, 80 minutes should be enough to finish 20. Two strategic timeouts of 2.5 minutes each should then settle the innings at around 85 minutes. The time span becomes lesser if you happen to have spinners in the side.
But what transpires on the field is quite the opposite. As many as four captains have been fined once for slow over-rates. This tells us that the assessment isn’t as clear-cut as it sounds. While T20 runs at its own rapid pace, there’s always the danger of a captain going with the flow. But if he allows that to happen, the team is doomed. He needs to break the momentum at regular intervals to ensure that the opposition doesn’t run away with the game. That’s where the problem starts.
Most bowlers take a few extra minutes at the start of a spell, get the run-up and thought process right. Unlike 50-overs cricket, where bowlers get to bowl longer spells, in T20, bowling changes are introduced after every couple of overs, which in turn is not always easy on them.
Also, most teams have at least three-four quick bowlers who take a lot more time than the spinners. In fifty-overs cricket, longer spells from spinners make up for the extra time consumed by the quicker bowlers, but four-over spells in T20 are not enough. To add to a captain’s woes, the noise in the stadium makes it almost impossible for him to convey messages to his out-fielders. Hence, the field change too consumes another couple of crucial minutes.
While a fine is perhaps the only way to book the guilty, the flipside baffles me. Sangakkara might not have a problem in paying $50,000 (22.5 lakh), others in the team especially the local recruits are sure to feel the pinch of shelling out $20,000 (Rs 9 lakh) each. Some of them are earning no more than a few lakhs for the entire tournament and if they are fined twice, they may take home nothing.