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Law 15.5 implies that altering the time of the lunch interval or tea interval requires that playing time shall have been lost. Does this mean that if an innings ends within, say, 11 minutes of lunch, then lunch cannot be taken until the new innings has started and the agreed time has been reached?
Law 15.5 gives authority for the umpires and captains, providing they all agree, to alter the times of lunch or tea if playing time has been lost. Such agreement can be made at any time. If, for example, the start of the day’s play is delayed by adverse conditions, it can be agreed before play starts that lunch/tea will be at times different from those originally agreed. Equally, an agreement to change could be reached while the interruption is in progress.
Law 15.5 does not state what is to happen if playing time has not been lost. The procedure in this case is to be found in Law 15.6(c). It covers the players leaving the field for reasons other than interruptions for ground, weather or light conditions and refers to alterations to be considered when the cessation of play occurs.
The intention of Law 15.6(c) is to give as much time as possible for play to take place. It builds in the safeguard that both umpires and both captains must agree to the change, thus both protecting the right of either captain to insist on play even for a short time before an interval, and being sympathetic to the catering arrangements, if there could be difficulty in having the food ready at an earlier time. However, it does allow, if all are in agreement, to take lunch at a different time if, for example, an innings ended within 11 minutes of the agreed time. This does not necessarily mean taking lunch earlier. It could be agreed, for instance, in this example, to play on until later than the agreed time.
If all four, two umpires and two captains, do not reach agreement on a change then, unless the cessation of play is within the prescribed 10 minutes, lunch will be taken at the agreed time.
[Law reference: 15.5, 15.6]
How does Law 15.8 apply in deciding when the tea interval is to be taken when 9 wickets are down?
For ease of reference, abbreviate “the time agreed for the tea interval” (i.e. the exact time as agreed) to Teatime. The significant period starts at time A, 2 minutes before Teatime.
Time B is the end of the over in progress at Teatime, whether or not this is the same over that was in progress at time A.
|- - - - - 2 mins - - - - - | - - - -|
A Teatime B
For example, if Teatime is 4 p.m., time A is 3-58 p.m.; time B will normally be a minute or two after 4 p.m., if play continues that far. Occasionally Teatime coincides with the end of an over. Whether this is the case or not is not relevant to the following observations about the timing of the tea interval.
The criteria for deciding when tea is to be taken are:
If at time A fewer than 9 wickets are down, play will continue until time B, if no wicket falls meanwhile
or If after time A but before time B, any wicket other than the 9th wicket falls, tea will be taken at the fall of the wicket, under Law 16.5(b)
or If after time A but before time B, the 9th wicket falls, or if at time A 9 wickets have already fallen, play will continue until the end of the over in progress 30 minutes after the original Teatime.
This will include the case of the 9th wicket falling at precisely time A. Note that the end of the innings, or an interruption to play for any reason, will mean that tea will be taken before the expiry of the extra 30 minutes.
[Law reference: 15.8]
Should, as in some other Laws, the retirement of a batsman count as the fall of a wicket in applying Law 15.8, governing postponement of the tea interval?
No. In Law 15.8, it is not the fall of the wicket that is significant. It is the fact that it is the 9th wicket. Tea is postponed in the hope of increasing playing time. With only one more wicket to fall, the innings might soon end. The 10 minutes between innings would then be absorbed into the tea interval. However, this does not apply in the case of a retirement. Any retired batsman may resume his innings, in appropriate circumstances. In most cases except Law 15.8, the significant fact is the time at which a wicket falls. Either an interval will be brought forward, or timing the appearance of the incoming batsmen is to start. Such changes will be triggered by the retirement of a batsman just as much as by the fall of a wicket. There are two cases where the time is not significant, namely Law 2.9(c) [batsman resuming his innings] and 16.5(b) [conclusion of a match]. In these two cases the Law specifically includes retirement of a batsman to remove any doubt.
The particular circumstances in which a batsman’s retirement will have the same effect as the fall of a wicket are:
(i) if a previously retired batsman is allowed to resume his innings, he can do so only at the fall of a wicket or the retirement of another batsman. [specific statement in 2.9(c)]
(ii) the innings is concluded if when a batsman retires, when further balls remain to be
bowled, there are no further batsmen to come in. [(12.3(b)]
(iii) drinks will be taken if a batsman retires within 5 minutes of the agreed time [(15.9(b)(i)]
(iv) an interval will be taken if a wicket falls or a batsman retires within 2 minutes of the agreed time [specific statement in 16.5(b)]
(v) if it is still in play, the ball will automatically be considered dead when a batsman retires. [23.1(a)(iii)]
(vi) if a batsman retires, the three minutes allowed for the next batsman (or his partner) to be ready will be timed from the retirement [31.1]
It must be emphasised that, although in the situations stated above the retirement of a batsman will have the same effect on the subsequent conduct of the game as the fall of a wicket, it is not the same as the fall of a wicket. For example, if drinks are taken early because a batsman retires, his innings is not terminated at that point. The Law specifically allows him to resume his innings, either by right or with the consent of the opposing captain.
In particular, in (ii) above, if the batsman retires through illness or injury or other unavoidable cause, Law 2.9(a) directs that this batsman is to be recorded Retired – not out. The innings will be completed but the side is not all out.
[Law reference: 15.8]
Also applies in Laws 2.9(c), 12.3(b), 15.9(b)(ii), 16.5(b), 23.1(a)(iii), 31.1