Get Rid of the Amateur Hour

This post is inspired by the series “Rules I’d Change” currently on ESPN Cricinfo.

Cricket, with its amateur roots, is still trying to catch up to the rest of the sporting world in terms of professionalism well over a hundred years after W.G. Grace demanded that he be paid for his efforts. Cricketers these days, representing franchises, counties, states and countries, are not your average bank clerks who took vacation from their jobs to roll their arms over. They are getting paid for what they do, some more than the other, and hence are professionals.

When one goes to their 9 to 5 job on a Monday morning, there isn’t a rule established in their place of work that allows them to take off work on Friday at 4 PM. If that is so, then why should the cricket professionals be allowed to call an end to proceedings with still an hour to go on the 5th day of a Test match?

ICC’s rules and regulations concerning the “Standard Test Match Playing Conditions” under Law16 “Start of Play; Cessation of Play”: Law 16.1.6 ‘Last Hour’ states: “On the final day, if both captains (the batsmen at the wicket may act for their captain) accept that there is no prospect of either side achieving a victory, they may agree to finish the match after (a) the time for the commencement of the last hour has been reached OR (b) there are a minimum of 15 overs to be bowled, whichever is the later.”

One of the Tests from recent past that stirs up emotional reactions from the fan base is the India vs. West Indies Test at Dominica in 2011, when needing 87 runs in 15 overs, India’s captain Dhoni, leading 1-0 in the three match series, decided to shake hands with his opposite number and protect the series lead rather than risk a loss in the contest.

Dhoni was allowed to shake hands because there is a law in place that allows him to do so. Perhaps, if that law weren’t in place, the teams would have played that extra hour and who knows what would have transpired? Perhaps India caught between protecting the lead and the chase of an improbable win, could have lost and allowed West Indies to draw the series.

You don’t see that happening in a One Day match or a T20, so why is it still allowed in a Test? Even in a blow out, the teams continue to bat till the 50 0vers are done. That’s what a professional is expected to do. It is a job and you do it.

The fans paid for a full day of cricket. I don’t see them getting reimbursed for an hour of play that they are robbed off because of a law that is the vestiges of an amateur era of the sport. They did get rid of the rest day in Tests, didn’t they? Then this law can be too. Get rid of it.

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