Front-foot no-balls will be monitored exclusively by the third umpire points and teams will be deducted points for slow over-rates in the ICC World Cup Super League, which begins later this week with the three-match ODI series between England and Ireland.
The front-foot no-ball regulation will apply in both ODIs and T20Is and is another step towards taking oversight of the front out of the domain of the on-field umpire in all international cricket. The ICC has previously trialed the technology to monitor bowlers overstepping during the ODI series between India and West Indies. Positive results there led to the ICC deciding to leave the adjudication of front-foot no-balls solely with the third umpire during the Women’s T20 World Cup earlier this year in Australia.
“It is something that will be used on Thursday [between Ireland and England] and for the series to be played,” Geoff Allardice, the ICC’s general manager cricket operations, said. “Certainly there is the importance of the free hit in white-ball cricket, and getting no-balls called accurately. That is considered to be an important feature. The Cricket Committee has recommended that and it’s in the playing conditions for the World Cup Super League.”
On-field umpires missing line-call no-balls has been a recurring issue in high-profile cricket in recent years. The ICC first trialed the process in 2016, during Pakistan’s tour of England. But it has taken time – as well as growing scrutiny of front-foot calls – to roll it out on a broader scale. On England’s last tour of Sri Lanka, in November 2018, broadcasters counted as many as as many as 12 no-balls missed by the umpires.
In March 2019, umpire S Ravi missed a no-ball off the last ball of a tight IPL game between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore. At the World Cup last year, umpires missed a no-ball in Australia’s game against West Indies; Chris Gayle was dismissed off the next ball, which should’ve been a free hit. The ongoing Test series between England and West Indies has also seen a number of no-balls not being called.
The points system in the Super League awards 10 points for a win and five for a tie, no-result or an abandoned game. But as with Test cricket and the World Test Championship, Allardice confirmed a competition points penalty will apply to sides who fail to keep up with the minimum over rates. In the case of the Super League, one point will be deducted for every full over a side has fallen short of bowling in the time allowed.
The league will also, Allardice confirmed, allow two DRS reviews per team per innings. That increase from one was announced in June and applies to T20Is as well. That is part of an interim change to playing conditions – like the ban on using saliva to shine a ball – brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and is due to be reviewed every three months.
“Each format got one extra review,” Allardice said. “That was the plan originally [that it was an interim measure]. We will see how it plays out, is it creating extra delays in the game or is allowing to get the right decision more often. I think it’s one that will have more debate as we get to the end of the interim period.”
No cut-off date has been finalised at the moment for when the league finishes, though it was envisaged as a two-year league. The top seven sides and India – as hosts – qualify directly to the 2023 World Cup. The ICC has moved that event from a February-March window to October-November, allowing more time for the league to be concluded.
“Obviously we start this league in a time when there is a lot of uncertainty around cricket fixtures generally,” Allardice said. “We bought some more time to be able to play or reschedule series but we’re expecting early 2023 as a cut-off. There is a World Cup Qualifier to be played during 2023 to identify the last two teams to go into the World Cup. But that will be finalised once we get more input from our members and their scheduling.”