Langer rues ‘slack’ over-rate which cost World Test Championship final slot

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Australia head coach Justin Langer has bemoaned his side’s slow over-rate during the Boxing Day Test against India in Melbourne, which ultimately cost his side a place in the final of the World Test Championship.

Tim Paine’s side was penalised four points after falling two overs short of the required rate per hour in that match, which resulted in Australia (69.2 %) finishing behind finalists New Zealand (70 %) and India (72 %) on the table.

Langer acknowledged that they were not aware of the slow over-rate at the time since the team’s manager Gavin Dovey was on a leave, although he expected the repercussions when he became aware of the situation.

“This might be the silliest thing I’ve ever said, but our manager Gavin Dovey … he’d been away, he’d gone home for Christmas to be with his family,” Langer told SEN.

“It wasn’t until after the game that we realised our over rate was down. Now, that’s really slack on our behalf.

“I remember we were in the team room afterwards and I spoke to Painey (skipper Tim Paine) and Dene Hills, our analyst, about it. I was a bit grumpy about it and I thought ‘imagine if this cost us the World Test Championship.

“And I mentioned it to the players afterwards that two overs down could cost us the World Test Championship. And so, we have to get better at that and make sure it doesn’t happen in Sydney and Brisbane.

“It was relevant at the time and it certainly became incredibly significant over the weekend.”

Who gets docked points these days?

However, Australia’s road to the WTC final were already made more difficult when they decided against touring South Africa in March and April, owing to health and safety concerns relating to the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

Langer, though, believes the situation during the Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground was ultimately to more to blame for them finishing in third place.

“How often do you get docked points in Test cricket these days? Rarely,” he said.

“And we had that in our control, that’s an attitudinal thing.

“At the time, we probably thought it’s not that big a deal the players get fined but that cost us the World Test Championship (Final) after what had been two really good years for Australian cricket where we were ranked No.1 again.

“It’s very disappointing, but the lesson is the things that we can control, we have to control. And we can’t relax for a second in Test cricket,” Langer added.

Teams are docked two points and fined 20 per cent of their match fee for every over they are found to be behind the rate of 15 an hour, as per ICC rules.

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