England and Australia have been docked 19 and ten World Test Championship (WTC) points respectively for their slow over-rates over the course of the five-Test Ashes series, which ended 2-2.
At the end of the series, England were found to have been behind the ask in four of the five Tests: by two overs in the first Test at Edgbaston, nine in the second at Lord’s, three in the fourth at Old Trafford, and five in the last Test at The Oval.
As for Australia, they did fine in four of the Tests, but were ten overs short at Old Trafford.
As a result, England ended the series with just nine WTC points (24 for two wins and four for one draw, minus 19 for the over-rate penalties), and Australia 18 points (24 for two wins and four for the draw, minus ten). That left Australia at No. 3 on the WTC table, with 30 percentage points, behind Pakistan (100) and India (66.67), while England were at No. 5, below West Indies (16.67) with 15 points.
The latest over-rate sanctions for Test cricket, announced at the ICC annual conference in Durban on July 13 this year, are that a team will be fined five per cent of their match fee and one WTC point for each over they are found short by.
England also had a rough time of it with the fines. While Australia were handed a 50% (for ten overs) fine for the Old Trafford Test, England were fined 10%, 45%, 15% and 25% for the four Tests they fell short in, respectively.
Speaking before the final Test, Pat Cummins had said, “This series has been a bit of an outlier I think. We haven’t had any over-rate sanctions over the last few years until this series. It feels like this one has been played at a different pace. It’s something we need to speak about in ODI cricket as well, when you’re setting fields the time can run out pretty quickly.
“It feels like there’s different plans every second over, or every over, every couple of balls. One batter might have a totally different plan to another one. So there’s lots of field movement. [There is] a lot more fast-bowling overs than there ever has been. No Nathan Lyon [from the third Ashes Test onwards]. A combination of those things.
“This series is maybe that little bit higher-pressure, and it’s not only the fielding side but you see the batters taking that little bit of extra time.”
In a series where rain was an almost constant presence, there weren’t a lot of overs from spin bowlers, which could have been a reason for the slow over-rates. For England, Moeen Ali and Joe Root, their main spin options, bowled a total of 179.1 overs. Stuart Broad alone bowled more than that: 184.2. For Australia, Nathan Lyon bowled 66 overs in the first two Tests before going out with an injury, and Todd Murphy, who played the last two Tests, bowled 38.2 overs. That’s a total of 104.2. Pat Cummins (158.4), Mitchell Starc (128.1) and Josh Hazlewood (111) all bowled more overs, Starc and Hazlewood in just four appearances each.