The Big Bash League is adopting the Strategic Time Out (STO) for BBL09.

Those 90 seconds of ‘joy’ for spectators, and viewers, waiting for the teams to work out what’s going right and wrong.

Initially conceived in 2009, the STO has been developed over time. And when I say developed, the time taken has been reduced but still maximises marketing opportunity.

Analysts must have calculated the point of diminishing return (surely, it is zero?) and set the STO to one minute and thirty seconds.

When watching a game and you feel that the STO is taking too long, think back to those early days in 2009 when the IPL first introduced the concept. Seven-and-a-half minutes. 420 seconds. Not so bad now, is it?

For this year’s Big Bash League, Cricket Australia have adopted the STO concept. Their Head of Big Bash Leagues, Alistair Dobson, has enthused over the idea.


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“The Strategic Time Out has been thought about and developed over the last couple of years, with input from key stakeholders in the game”, said Dobson. Perhaps a thesaurus is required at Jolimont Street to help with synonyms for ‘sponsors’ though.

Dobson continued: “We’ve seen the strategic time outs used in other T20 competitions around the world, and we feel that providing the batting team with the power to call a time out will add an extra tactical dimension to the outcome of the game, with the priority of maximising runs.”

Definitely for the tactics and strategy then; nothing whatsoever to do with commercial revenue streams. Glad we cleared that up.

So, let us dip into the revised playing conditions for the 2019-20 BBL campaign and have a look at the detail for STOs:

11.5.1 In any innings where the number of overs is scheduled to be 16 or greater, there shall be a 90 second Strategic Time Out (“STO”) taken at the request of the batting team, commencing from the time the umpire calls and signals that the STO is being taken. Umpires will return to their on-field positions for play to resume at the end of 90 seconds.
That’s clear enough. Now we know when they are available, how long they are, who can call one and what happens when they do. All in one neatly explained paragraph. Well, no. There is more so let us plough on…

11.5.2 During the STO no practice by the players is permitted on the field.
It says ‘no practice’ but doesn’t specify what constitutes practice. Is a bout of shadow batting going to fall foul? And what happens if you do practice? Sounds like a potential rabbit hole.

11.5.3 During the STO members of the coaching and support staff of both teams are permitted to enter the playing field to address their players. Players not presently on the field can also enter the field.
TIME FOR A PAR-TAY!!! Everyone is welcome, as long as they are on the same team, for a quick chat before carrying on. The coaches can impart nuggets of wisdom like “why are you bowling like a clown?” and other such insights.

11.5.4 Where the STO applies in an innings, it shall be taken at the end of an over and shall be taken between the end of the 7th and the end of the 13th over inclusive
Well, that is nice. Just at the time that the television viewers have finished their latest beverage and are in need of a new one. Enough of a gap to head to the toilet and sweep past the fridge for another cold beer, in the case of Australian fans, before hitting the sofa for the next over. If not, you can sit there and be marketed at.