THE Bolton League rules say the innings have to be completed in a certain amount of time.

It is three hours and five minutes for first teams and two hours and 48 minutes for second teams.

Second teams play 45 overs instead of the 50 which are played in first-team games.

Several teams have fallen foul of this rule this season and found they can only bat for the number of overs they bowled in the first innings or give away five runs for the overs not bowled in the second innings.

Some say they are behind because of two drinks intervals or due to the time taken searching for lost balls.

But time has been built in for such circumstances and spare balls are always available while the other is retrieved.

So why are some teams so slow? It could be for various reasons such as because both batsmen have a chat between deliveries or at the end of the over, or because they keep asking for a guard after every delivery.

This wastes time and is unfair to the bowling side who will find themselves behind the time allowed.

However, the law says batsmen must be ready to take strike when the bowler is ready to start their run up.

If the batsmen are not ready then they can receive a first and final warning which applies throughout the innings.

Each incoming batsman must be informed of the warning.

If any batsman is classed as time wasting again in that innings the umpire shall, when the ball is dead, award five penalty runs to the fielding side.

An umpire can deal with time wasting by the batting side quite easily by asking the batsmen to be ready. If they are not then the umpire can follow the MCC law.

As for the fielding side, time wasting can occur by constant changes of field placings after every ball bowled.

Also by long chats with the captain as to where fielders should be, not to mention long bowlers run-ups which often slow things down.

The fielding side should bowl about 16 overs an hour.

Some only manage 14 and when they are told to hurry up the umpires are usually told the team will make it up when the spinners bowl.

Unfortunately, that does not always happen.

If an umpire thinks the fielding side are deliberately slowing things down – maybe because of impending weather conditions – then they can enforce the MCC law, which is a warning and if they continue within an over then the bowler could be suspended and not bowl again in the game.

If it continues between overs five penalty runs can be given.

Fortunately that has never happened but it is there for the umpires to use if they think it necessary.