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Ashes 2023

England hit with massive, unprecedented 19-point World Test Championship penalty for Ashes over rates

Ben Stokes, captain of the England Test team who have been docked 19 points for a slow over rate in the Ashes
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

England have been hit with a massive, unprecedented World Test Championship points penalty for maintaining a slow over rate in multiple Tests in the 2023 Ashes.

England have been docked 19 points, as many as all teams combined in the 2021-23 World Test Championship, and more than the 16 deducted across countries in 2019-21.

While the series was a memorable one, going down as one of the most entertaining and closely fought Test rubbers in history, the pace of play was a discussion point throughout. Australia were also penalised, docked 10 points, though only falling short in one Test, at Old Trafford. England were docked two points at Edgbaston, nine at Lord’s, three at Old Trafford, and five at the Kia Oval.


A new rule, brought in mid-series after lobbying by Australia’s Usman Khawaja, proved pivotal in limiting Australia’s penalty. The thresholds for when a bowling team can be penalised has been raised from a minimum of 60 overs per innings to 80 overs per innings, and from 120 overs per game to 160 overs per game, if the opposition bats twice. England didn’t bat 160 overs in any of the five Tests this summer, but Australia were still liable to be punished at Old Trafford because England only batted once.

Under the previous system, Australia could have been liable for penalties at the Kia Oval, Edgbaston and Lord’s, due to England facing between 120 and 160 overs in each of these Tests.

However, Khawaja is still not happy that his team received any penalty at all. “Don’t even get the chance to bowl in the second innings at Manchester due to 2 days of rain and ICC still issue fines and take 10 WTC points of us for slow over rates! That makes a lot of sense…” he tweeted.

With 12 points for a win and four points for a draw on offer in each WTC Test, England have therefore seen their series haul slashed from 28 points to just nine points, while Australia end with 18 points. Had England been beaten 4-1, but maintained an acceptable over rate throughout, they would have ended with 12 points, three more than their current tally.

Both sides have also been hit with heavy fines. Australia have been hit with a 50 per cent match fee fine for the Old Trafford Test, while England have been docked five per cent for every over they were short.

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