International Cricket Council has declared “enough is enough” and has promised a wide-ranging review into how it punishes poor player behaviour in the wake of the ball-tampering saga in South Africa.
In a strongly-worded statement, ICC CEO Dave Richardson labelled the current climate “one of the worst periods in recent memory” when it comes to player behaviour and promised his organisation will reset the standards that all players must follow.
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“We have seen a number of incidents of poor player behaviour in recent weeks which has included ugly sledging, send-offs, dissent against umpires’ decisions, a walk-off and ball tampering,” Richardson wrote.
“This has been perhaps one of the worst periods in recent memory for consistently poor player behaviour and the global outcry in relation to the ball tampering is a clear message to cricket: enough is enough.
“That is why, with the full support of the ICC Board, we will undertake a wide-ranging review into player behaviour, the spirit in which the game is played and the Code of Conduct.
“The spirit of cricket is precious to our sport and so intrinsically linked with good behaviour – the turn of phrase ‘that’s just not cricket’ is not an accident. We must protect that spirit.”
I lied, I panicked – I’m sorry: Bancroft:
The ICC’s Code of Conduct by which players are punished has come under the microscope this week following the wildly differing sanctions handed down to Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft following the third Test in Cape Town.
The ICC on Sunday banned Smith for one Test and docked 100 per cent of his match fee for his role in the ball-tampering scandal. The ICC, which currently rates all Code of Conduct breaches as either a Level 1, 2, 3 or 4 breach, charged Smith with a Level 2 offence.
Warner, meanwhile, escaped sanction from the ICC entirely while opener Bancroft was fined 75 per cent of his match fee.
Cricket Australia has since come down significantly harder on the trio, banning Smith and Warner for a year and Bancroft for nine months.
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Richardson acknowledged the public debate “in the last week or two about the sanctions in the code being too lenient or too hard”. But while he labelled some recent player behaviour “unedifying”, he said officials had to work within the framework currently in place.
“To go outside of this because we find the behaviour of a number of players particularly disturbing, would be to disregard the rules,” he said.
Richardson said the review will be conducted by its Cricket Committee, the Marylebone Cricket Club as well as a panel of the sport’s greatest players.
One of its aims, he says, will be to focus on the Code of Conduct and “reviewing the levels of offence based on seriousness, more clearly defining the conduct that constitutes each offence and reviewing the sanctions that should apply to each”.
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“We need to be clear on what acceptable behaviour is and what isn’t and what the appropriate sanctions are when a player breaches the code,” he said. “That may also mean strengthening sanctions to make them genuine deterrents.
“We will also consider how we reach greater consistency in decision making with our match officials who do such a difficult job. How can we support them and dismiss the notion that some teams are favoured over others?
“Nothing is out of bounds with this review and we have a responsibility to shape how the spirit of cricket is brought to life in the game in the 21st century.”
Former Australia wicketkeeper Ian Healy was one of several pundits this week who questioned the leniency of the ICC’s initial sanctions for the ball-tampering scandal.
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Healy, noting that Bancroft had been cleared by the ICC to play in the fourth Test before Cricket Australia handed down their sanctions, said the ICC needed to reassess how severely it punishes ball-tampering offences.
“The ICC, such a minimal punishment (for Smith) of one match and Cameron Bancroft let off just with demerit points,” he told Channel Nine. “They’re not treating it that seriously.
“I think those offence levels and consequences and punishments do have to be looked at because the game hasn’t punished them very harshly.”
Qantas tour of South Africa
South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Quinton de Kock, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, AB de Villiers.
Australia squad: Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Matt Renshaw, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.>