Dubai: Stung by the ball tampering saga involving Australian players, the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Thursday announced it will undertake a wide-ranging review into player behaviour, the Code of Conduct and the framework for penalties on offences in order to bring a long-term positive impact on the game.
The ICC said the review will bring together some well respected former and current players along with the Cricket Committee, the MCC and match officials as it considers the current offences in the code and the sanctions as well as how to make the spirit of the game a more integral part of that code.
“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,” ICC said in a statement.
“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,” it added.
During the third Test between South Africa and Australia between March 22 to 26, Australian Cameron Bancroft was caught on cameras using what is believed to be a tape before attempting to hide the object down the front of his pants, moments before the umpires seemingly inquired about the contents of his pockets on the third day of the Cape Town Test.
Television footage later showed Bancroft rubbing the ball and then seemingly putting an object back in his pocket.
“We need to move on from the last few weeks but not in the hope that people will just forget about it, but by taking positive action and ensuring fans around the world can rely on cricket to do the right thing,” ICC CEO David Richardson said.
The ICC handed a one-match ban on Australian captain Steven Smith, who also had his full match fee cut, while Bancroft was fined 75 per cent of his match fee and handed three demerit points for breaching Level 2 of the ICC code of conduct.
The punishments handed by the ICC also came for criticism. But Richardson defended the organisation’s decision, saying irrespective of the “unedifying” behaviour of the players, the sanctions applied have been imparted in accordance with the framework for penalties which currently exists.
However, Richardson said the review gives the ICC an opportunity to “shape what the game looks like in the 21st century and reset the standards expected of player behaviour and communicate expectations of them clearly and without ambiguity”.
“It will focus on two things, firstly the Code of Conduct, 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,” he said.
“Secondly, we will consider the development of a spirit of cricket code which will define more clearly what it actually means to play the game in this day and age with a view to establishing a culture of respect in the game for the long term.
“The existing Code has served the sport well for a number of years, but it is important that we are able to assess it in relation to the game today and that is the purpose of the review.”
Richardson added: “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. 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.”