Gqeberha – Irrelevant, and to an extent suicidal, bonus point rules in the 4-Day Series are partly responsible for the struggling new crop of Test match batters says former Proteas performance analyst Prasanna Agoram in reflection of his third season working in domestic cricket.
South African Test batters have scored only four centuries in the ongoing World Test Championship courtesy of Sarel Erwee, Kyle Verreynne, Aiden Markram and Temba Bavuma.
As another domestic season comes to an end, Lions cricket performance analyst aired his frustration over the narrative that there’s no quality cricketers on show in domestic cricket.
Agoram was involved with the Proteas for over a decade before joining the Lions. It was only a matter of time before Agoram decoded the root cause of the problem.
“It’s the rules for acquiring bonus points inside the first 100 overs that are really hurting us. You get three points for the first 150 runs and then 0.02 points for every single run you score in the first hundred overs of the first innings,” Agoram exclusively told IOL Sport.
“I just can’t understand these rules,” he added.
These rules force teams to hand out instructions to batters to up the intensity in the first hundred overs to maximize their chances of getting batting points for the team to sit in a good position on the log. This explains why Proteas batters struggle to spend a full day batting.
“If you see the average number of balls the Proteas have faced in Test cricket, it’s the least in world cricket and you can’t blame the players because they are doing what they were told in domestic cricket. So, what are you going to achieve with this in Test cricket?” asks Agoram.
The trend everyone has noticed is how batters score big hundreds domestically but fail to carry that form into Test cricket. That has happened too often for the Proteas in Test cricket over the past two years.
Agoram says another reason for this could be the high over rate rule that teams have to meet in the 4-Day competition. He says this rule forces teams to compromise quality in order to meet the rules and not get penalised.
“Another thing is maintaining an over rate of sixteen overs an hour. Even in local tennis ball cricket, I don’t think you can bowl sixteen overs an hour,” he said.
“That’s why you see part-time spinners bowling over 20 overs a day in 4-Day Cricket. Marques Ackerman, who is a full-time batter, was bowling fifteen overs a day this week against the Lions and that shows you how big an impact this has on teams.
“We have no choice because we get umpires coming to us to say we are 10 overs behind and then we are forced to bring on part-time spinners to cover up the overs because we don’t want to be penalised.”
In conditions where seam bowling is favoured, domestic teams are forced to pick spinners in the playing XI because it is nearly impossible to meet the 16-overs per hour criteria without a spinner in the line-up.
Agoram says the seven games a season can work for South Africa but something needs to be done about the many days that see no play because of rain and wet outfields in some parts of the country.
“A lot of days are lost due to rain in this country. What Cricket South Africa should enforce is to cover the whole ground. That shouldn’t be a huge investment for CSA.
“Venues like Bloem and Potch, if it rains days before the match you’re likely to lose all four days. When we went there with the Lions last month, it was sunny with no rain but we could not play because the outfield was wet because of rain that happened four days before.
“We have 28 days of red ball cricket scheduled in the season but we rarely get to 20 days because of the small things that we can control. Let’s stop saying the quality of players in domestic cricket is poor because that is not true. What is hurting us are these rules which make no sense.”