Stop-Clock Rule in Cricket: Set to become a permanent in white-ball cricket from T20WC 2024!

Finally, the ICC (International Cricket Council)  mandated the stop-clock rule in cricket. The ICC’s new rule will become a permanent fixture in limited-overs formats like ODIs and T20Is. On Friday (15th March 2024), the ICC confirmed establishing the stop clock rule after undergoing a trial period from December 2023 to March 2024.

The trial was supposed to continue till April 2024. However, in a recent board meeting, ICC officials proved that the experiment produced successful results regarding the timely completion of matches. In simpler terms, this rule saved at least 20 to 30 minutes per match approximately. It reminds a similar rule implied in tennis matches.

The new stop-clock rule in cricket will become permanent starting from the ICC T20 World Cup 2024. The upcoming grand tournament will kickstart on 1st June in the West Indies and the USA. As a result, spectators will start enjoying the short and crisp version of the T20 Internationals and One Day Internationals.

During an ICC board meeting in Dubai, the higher authorities have taken many decisions to determine the future shape and context of international white-ball cricket matches. 

Additionally, the ICC confirmed during the meeting that there will be a reserve day for the semi-final and final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024.

Furthermore, the ICC officially declared the qualification process for the next edition’s T20 World Cup in 2026 co-hosted by India and Sri Lanka.

It would be interesting to know how the stop-clock rule in cricket works and its exceptions.

What is a stop-clock rule in cricket? How does it work?

According to the stop-clock rule in cricket, the fielding team should start a new over within 60 seconds. The timer begins from the time of completion of the previous over. Especially, a new bowler must start the over before the countdown reaches zero.

Between the overs, an electronic clock will be displayed on the screen to indicate the timer. The countdown starts at 60 and concludes at zero.

It is the umpire’s responsibility to announce the start of the timer. But, it is the third umpire who switches on the timer. The decision to effectively utilise the timer is up to the umpires. It is because they have the authority to make a decision when delays are caused due to several reasons.

Initially, the match umpire provides two warnings, if the fielding side fails to start the first ball of the next over within the time limit.

The fielding team might face a five-run penalty if the subsequent violations tend to continue. In other words, the batting side gains an additional 5 runs to its total score. It would be difficult to imagine the bowling side facing a penalty of 5 runs for every offence executed after the first two warnings.

Mainly, the rule is a penalty for the bowling side and an extra reward for the batting team.

It is similar to the 30-second rule in tennis, where a player has to restart the game within the allotted time. Specifically, the Chief Executives’ Committee (CEC) of ICC agreed to introduce this rule on a trial basis to estimate the time taken between each over. Moreover, the rule of stop clock ensures improves the proper flow of a game.

Exceptions to the stop-clock rule in cricket

You might be wondering about the exceptions to the stop clock rule in white ball cricket. There are certain situations when an umpire can omit the stop clock rule in cricket despite the start of the timer:

  • The arrival of a new batsman to the crease between overs
  • Umpire’s official call for a drinks break or strategic timeout.
  • If the umpire approves the on-field treatment of an injured batsman, bowler, or fielder
  • Decision Review System (DRS) call taken by the batting or bowling side.
  • Unavoidable situations far beyond the control of the fielding side. It includes the third umpire’s decision to scrutinize:
    • Stump out and run out
    • The ball touching the boundary ropes
    • Whether the ball bounced near the boundary ropes to determine if it is four or six
  • A batsman retiring hurt.

Additional Decisions Taken by the ICC: Overall Facts

During the recent meeting in Dubai, the ICC has taken additional decisions. Along with the implementation of the stop-clock rule in cricket, the ICC planned the qualification process for the ICC T20 World Cup 2026. The 20-team tournament will have 12 qualifier rounds. 

It means that the teams finishing in the top eight positions of the ICC T20 World Cup 2024 will directly join as the automatic qualifiers in the next edition along with the host nations- India and Sri Lanka. Whereas, the remaining spots will be grabbed by the teams based on their ICC rankings as of 30th June 2024. The last eight spots will be determined through the ICC Regional Qualifiers.

Notably, the discussions about the ICC Champions Trophy 2025 seemed to be absent during the session. Since Pakistan is the host nation, Team India’s refusal to tour its rival nation reminds the alteration in the venue similar to the previous year’s Asia Cup tournament.

Overall, the stop-clock rule promises to provide a new dimension to the upcoming matches of white-ball cricket.