DRS 'on the cards' as BBL flags crackdown on slow play
BBL captains may be forced to take more responsibility for slow over rates as officials consider rule changes for the 2021-22 season
13 July 2021, 03:34 PM AEST
Big Bash officials are looking at new rules to shorten the duration of matches and will keep a close eye on England's new 100-ball competition, where bowling teams will be forced to bring an extra fielder into the inner circle if they fall behind the pace.
The time taken by BBL matches has exploded in recent years to well beyond three hours, meaning games have finished after 10.30pm, in contrast to the competition's mantra of prioritising kids and families during the school holidays.
England officials will launch The Hundred later this month and have pledged to keep matches to just two-and-a-half hours, which is one of their main motivations behind the controversial decision to reduce the game to 100 balls per team instead of 120.
The BBL has no plans to move away from a 20-over game but league officials concede the current trend is a concern and are thinking of ways to incentivise teams to move the game forward.
BBL boss Alistair Dobson says a rule similar to that in The Hundred and one that is already in place in England's T20 Blast competition, where an extra fielder must be brought inside the circle for every ball the 20-over innings goes beyond an hour and 15 minutes, might be the circuit-breaker the Big Bash needs.
"It'll probably take something as creative as that to turn that trend around," Dobson told cricket.com.au.
"There's a whole range of levers you can pull, whether it's penalties like that or incentives the other way.
"I think that's a really creative way and if it can be officiated effectively and everyone goes in knowing what the rules are, I think that's an interesting way to go about it.
"We're really mindful of the length of games. Our data shows they've started to lengthen more than we'd probably like in the last couple of years and that's something we're looking at closely in terms of what options we've got."
Slow over rates are an issue in all forms of the game globally and even cost Australia a spot in this year's World Test Championship final.
The BBL has previously fined teams and even banned fielding captains for multiple over-rate breaches, but will face a challenge if enforcing punishments during a game as it can be difficult to quickly determine how much is the fault of the fielding side and how much is down to other factors.
The introduction of strategic time-outs two seasons ago, which last three minutes in total, has also contributed to longer matches in recent seasons.
A handful of new rules are being considered for the 2021-22 season, with Dobson again hinting that a version of the Decision Review System will be introduced for the first time.
Last season's BBL was over-shadowed at times by incorrect umpiring decisions and strong calls from past and present players for the DRS to be introduced.
Given the BBL is played at multiple venues around the country in quick succession, having the full suite of technology available at every match would cost millions and present a raft of logistical challenges.
Dobson gave a strong indication that some form of review system will be brought it, even if technologies like Hot Spot and Ultra-Edge aren't part of it, with game length again a major consideration.
"If we do bring something in, it'll be unique to the BBL," he said. "Our proposition is around quick, fast entertainment and putting kids and families first, so if we were to bring something in, there's an opportunity to do something really creative around it.
"It's on the cards.
"Whatever we bring in needs to be reliable and deliverable. When we play at a mixture of big stadiums and regional venues and multiple games in one day, they all create some considerations that probably don't exist in a lot of other competitions."
The new-look Playing Conditions are expected to be finalised in the coming months, which will also determine the fate of the three new rules from last season – The Power Surge, The X-Factor player and the Bash Boost point.
"Nothing's locked in, but there's a couple of ideas floating around that we think could be interesting," Dobson said, adding discussions around new rules are held annually with players, match officials and broadcasters.
"Clearly the Power Surge was a hit (last season and) I think it's fair to say we'll be keeping that. That was more successful than we probably could have hoped.
"The Bash Boost and X-Factor we think broadly played their role, but there's a couple of steps in the process still to go before that's cemented.
"Each year, we have a process where we consider new ideas and Playing Conditions and we're prepared to bring in anything that we think will add to the competition."