(Reuters) - The ill-tempered test series between Australia and South Africa and the fallout from the ball-tampering scandal has prompted the International Cricket Council (ICC) to launch a review of the players’ code of conduct to curb on-field misdemeanours.
The announcement follows the ball-tampering incident that occurred during the third test in Cape Town, which resulted in Cricket Australia banning sacked Australia captain Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.
ICC chief executive David Richardson said the last few weeks have been “one of the worst periods in recent memory” for consistently poor player behaviour.
“What happened down there has certainly created additional urgency that something needs to be done as quickly as possible,” he told reporters on Thursday.
“So with the full support of the board we will be undertaking a wide-ranging review into player conduct and particularly into the spirit in which the game is played in the code of conduct.”
Even before the ball-tampering controversy, sledging during the Australia-South Africa series hit new lows, with match referees stepping in to issue demerit points and fines.
Warner was fined 75 percent of his match fee from the first test for an ugly confrontation with South African wicketkeeper Quinton De Kock which soured relations between the teams.
South African fast bowler Kagiso Rabada was suspended for two tests after brushing against Smith’s shoulder in the second test before his sanction was reduced on appeal.
Indian batting great Sachin Tendulkar is among those who feel many have forgotten the underlying message of the sport.
“Cricket has been known as a gentleman’s game. It’s a game that I believe should be played in the purest form,” he said on Twitter. “Winning is important but the way you win is more important.”
Richardson plans to bring together former and current players along with ICC’s cricket committee, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and match officials to discuss ways to make the spirit of the game a more integral part of the code.
“Players who come in my mind immediately are Allan Border, Anil Kumble, Shaun Pollock, Courtney Walsh, Richie Richardson - they all played with passion and you couldn’t fault their level of aggression,” he said.
The cricket committee will also meet to discuss how to achieve clarity and consistency in decision-making around the enforcement of the disciplinary code.
“The spirit of the game has been there for a long time but what it means has not been defined,” he said.
“When it comes to the umpires and referees trying to impose the code, if there’s ambiguity it makes it more difficult for them.”
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar