A countdown clock for the end of an over and a standard ball in Test cricket are among changes that have been suggested by a group of leading figures in the sport.
The MCC World Cricket committee has proposed playing the World Test Championship, which begins with this year’s Ashes, with a standardised ball.
The committee is an independent panel that can propose changes to the laws.
Three different brands of red ball are currently used in Tests.
A Dukes ball is used for Tests in England and West Indies, while the SG ball is used in India. All other countries play the longer format with a Kookaburra ball.
The committee – which includes ex-Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne and former England captain Mike Gatting – said the “balance between bat and ball is crucial”.
They also suggested measures to speed up play in Tests, including:
- Free hit to follow a no-ball in Test cricket
- A timer or countdown clock to count down from 45 seconds from the call of “over”
- If either side is not ready when the clock reaches zero, they would receive a warning
- Further infringements in that innings would result in five penalty runs being awarded to the opposition
- A timer when a wicket falls to ensure batsmen and fielders are in position in time.
Free hits after a no-ball are already used in limited-overs formats.
The committee suggested the introduction of a shot clock at a meeting in August. It is not able to change playing regulations but the use of a standard ball will be discussed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) committee in May.
Recommendations could then be put to a general meeting of the ICC for Test nations to approve.
The ICC is the global governing body of the sport, but the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) is the guardian of the laws and spirit of the game.
Ninety overs should be bowled in a full day’s play, with an extra 30 minutes available if teams need to make up time.
West Indies captain Jason Holder was banned for his side’s final Test against England in February because of a slow over-rate.
A survey conducted by the MCC said 25% of fans from England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa said slow over rates put them off attending Tests.
It also said that Test cricket was the format that interests fans the most.
The committee said “more urgency needed to be shown” by players, adding: “They should play a brand of ‘ready-cricket’ with more forward planning”.