ICC should show the way

There is simply no excuse for abuse and bad words that target the individual, his family and has no connection whatsoever with the game. When that comes out in the open, players react saying the stump microphones should be switched off. But wouldn’t it be better for the sport if the verbals are turned off? It does not enhance the game in any way.

England skipper Jos Buttler has a heated argument with the Bangladesh players during the second ODI at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Dhaka. The Bangladesh players were fined and Buttler was reprimanded for breaching the ICC Code of Conduct.   -  REUTERS

South Africa’s whitewash of Australia in the five-match one-day series at home and India’s clean sweep of the three-Test series against New Zealand, also at home, were the highlights over the last few days. England became the first team in the last two years to win a one-day series against Bangladesh, in Bangladesh.

The England versus Bangladesh ODI series was not without its drama. The Bangladesh players were fined and the England skipper, Jos Buttler, reprimanded for breaching the ICC Code of Conduct. Then there were more scenes, as some England players refused to shake hands with some of the Bangladeshi players after the second one-day match — which Bangladesh won — because one of the home team players had apparently shoved an English player.

 

Unfortunately, because the ICC has not shown any will to stop the verbals on the field these kinds of scenes will be seen on the ground much to the detriment of the fine cricket that precedes these incidents. I have no idea what the match referees talk when they meet the two captains, the coaches and managers of the teams before the start of a new series, but if they insist that at the first instance of a player talking to the opposition player, they would fine him and lodge a demerit point against him, then we may see the beginning of an atmosphere where the players will talk on the ground only with bat and ball.

Players should be allowed to encourage their team-mates but there should be no talk with the opposition at all. Nobody likes to see the kind of situation where players square up to each other. This is only because players have a go at each other. So, the simple solution is to stop that from happening. Unfortunately, the mistaken belief that such things have been part of cricket since ages prevents officials from putting a stop to them.

Look at what happened at the inquest into the unfortunate accident that killed Phillip Hughes in Sydney. The lawyers for Hughes’ family have been suggesting, again and again, that it was sledging and short-pitched deliveries tactics that led to the ball that felled Hughes. The players have denied that one of them had said, ‘I am going to kill you’. Though there is never any intention on the cricket field to hurt anybody, it raised quite a storm in the courtroom.

Now that one of their own talented players is no more, maybe the authorities will realise that it is about time verbals of any kind are driven from the game. There is no way abuse on the field can be allowed; it also cannot be classified under mental disintegration, an excuse that boorish skippers and players have used over the years.

Mental disintegration is understandable if the player’s technique or even his temperament is questioned. But there is simply no excuse for abuse and bad words that target the individual, his family and has no connection whatsoever with the game.

When that comes out in the open, players react saying the stump microphones should be switched off. But wouldn’t it be better for the sport if the verbals are turned off? It does not enhance the game in any way. I repeat, the champion West Indian side of the 1970s and 80s never said a word. Their glare and stare were deadly enough to let the batsman know he was in for a tough time.

Sir Don Bradman it was who said that we all should strive to leave the game better than when we found it. Are we doing it? The ICC, under a supposedly no-nonsense chairman, has an excellent opportunity after the Phillip Hughes inquest to do something about it. Or will it be another false dawn?

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