It looks like the Aussies might have let the trophy get away from them in the last session yesterday, and I put the blame firmly at Ponting's feet. Not because he tried to keep the over rate up, though, but for letting it slip to start with. Bowling the appropriate number of overs in a day is a requirement of the playing conditions and code of conduct. Deliberately wasting time can and should be considered cheating. Those who have observed the Australian team's fondness for other "sharp practices" would reach the conclusion that he bowled part-timers not for the sake of the spirit of the game, but so that he would not be banned. But surely such motivation is the point of the penalties in the first place. Would we be happy if players decided to run on the pitch near the end of a game, because the series was in the balance and the next game didn't matter?
So, some questions, firstly for the Australian selectors:
Can we please keep Ponting as a batsman, and choose a captain who doesn't spend an eternity making each (usually bad) bowling or fielding decision? The over rate issue might suddenly disappear!
And for the ICC:
Why aren't other dodgy practices mentioned in the code of conduct punished as rigorously as over rates?
And for the MCC with the ICC:
Is there a way to sensibly implement penalties in a way that affects the match in question, to avoid any conflict between following the rules and winning the game? It hasn't been done with over-rates, and the ball-tampering rule suggests that it can't be done well.