Sutherland assails Aussies for slow over-rate

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Melbourne, Nov 25 (UNI) Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland has criticised the national team for slow-over rates and claims that drastic penalties, such as banning bowlers or even removing a fieldsman, may be necessary to improve the situation worldwide.

Sutherland was speaking after captain Ricky Ponting was fined yesterday yet again for slow over rates, this time 30 per cent of his match fee. The other players were docked half that for falling three overs behind during the first Test against New Zealand in Brisbane, which Australia won by 149 runs on Sunday.

The latest fine follows over-rate controversies on the recent tour of India that resulted in Ponting and Brett Lee clashing during the second Test and Ponting being criticised for using part-time bowlers during the last Test, forfeiting a chance of victory.

''The Australian team clearly needs to look into the reasons why it hasn't, in recent times, been on top of its game in regard to over rates,'' Sutherland told 'The Australian' last night.

''The rules and regulations are very clear and we are falling behind, which is not good enough.'' He pointed out that if a bowler is warned for running on the pitch three times in the one innings he is banned from bowling for the remainder of the innings and wondered if similar penalties could be introduced for over rates.

Sutherland said he would raise this topic in next month's International Cricket Council's (ICC) meeting of the chief executives'.

''I don't think the umpires have a big enough stick to wield during the game. Maybe a team could lose a fieldsman or a bowler if you drop a certain amount of overs behind,'' he said.

Sutherland claimed it was essential for the future of cricket, particularly Test cricket, that teams around the world improved their over rates to give better value to the paying public.

''We are a sport that is played in front of millions of people on television and in a broad sense over rates should continue to move along at the expected minimum of 15 overs an hour,'' he said.

''If they don't it's a significant blight on the game.

''We are very conscious that the game needs to be entertaining and part of that is ensuring the required number of overs are bowled.'' Former captain Ian Chappell also continued his criticism of Ponting for the perennial problem of poor over rates.

''It's difficult to understand why Ponting needs to engage in long, drawn-out conversations with his bowlers, which is the main cause of Australia's slow over-rate,'' Chappell wrote in his 'Cricinfo' column.

''These chats are even more bewildering when team meetings have become so important as to banish Andrew Symonds because he missed one such gathering in Darwin,'' he added.

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