‘We’re doing it for the fans’ – Pete Russell, the CPL’s CEO Defends the red-card rule after Kieron Pollard’s criticism of it

Trinbago Knight Riders became the first cricket team to receive a red card on last Sunday, with Sunil Narine paying the penalty for his team’s slow overs-rate in a Caribbean Premier League (CPL) match.

The Kieron Pollard-led side failed to complete the 19 of the 20 overs within the time limit and that saw them getting penalized.

The side thus had to play with 10 players instead of 11 in the last over with a restriction of a maximum of two fielders outside the 30-yard circle. Pollard decided to send Sunil Narine off the ground for the last over.

Pete Russell, the CPL’s CEO, has defended the introduction of red cards to combat slow over-rates after Kieron Pollard had raised concerns over it.

After Pollard’s Trinbago Knight Riders became the first team in the CPL to get a red card, he called the new penalty rule “absolutely ridiculous”.

“I thought it did exactly what I wanted it to do (laughs). Unfortunately, Kieron didn’t quite see it that way, but look it is tough,” Russell said before the start of the Barbados leg of the CPL. “I’m sure the captain next to me [Rovman Powell, Barbados Royals] would agree. If you have three overs where you effectively have the penalty, it does make a difference. The reason we’ve done it is to just speed up the pace of play. I know IPL games go well over four hours, which is just too long.”

Russell stressed that the penalty was brought in to prioritise fans and that the new rule has been a success so far.

“I sat next to someone in the stands during that game on Sunday and he had to get a ferry back to Nevis and he had to leave the game early because of the amount of time it took to bowl those last few overs,” Russell said. “So, the last over was bowled in 12 minutes, which, again, is not acceptable. So, it has a knock-on effect.

“We’re doing it for the fans – that’s really the reason for doing it. I certainly don’t mind it to change. If you actually look at the overall timings each game is 17 minutes quicker than it was last year. So, from that point of view, it’s been a success and it’s just unfortunate that Trinidad got caught up in it, but everyone has signed up for the rules. So, I’m happy with where we are at right now.”

Pollard’s comments didn’t go down too well with the CPL, but Russell hoped that teams would be mindful of the penalty and speed up the play.

“It’s not for me to comment on how they take their time,” Russell said. “The reality is that the timing is there for a reason, and it is international standard, so unfortunately, he [Pollard] overstepped it in terms of the timing and that was the end of it. I think from a CPL perspective, we’re obviously disappointed by the comments afterwards, but you know emotions run high.

“But, for us, we think the rule is there for a reason and every other captain and team has adhered to it. And hopefully, that will be the case going forward because we certainly don’t want to see red cards being shown every game. That’s not the purpose of it. But, I think, the actual outcome of the red card – it did what it was supposed to do.”

The red-card system of ejecting a player from the field for slow over-rate will also be in place for the WCPL, which will run from August 31 to September 10.

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