Penalties will be more than ever before: Dave Richardson

LONDON: The International Cricket Council (ICC) is not done with chuckers. Far from it. Dave Richardson, chief executive of the game’s governing body, told reporters here on Tuesday that match officials had been advised to closely monitor all bowlers during the World Cup.

Flanked by James Sutherland and John Harnden, the respective top bosses of Cricket Australia and the World Cup local organising committee, the former South Africa wicketkeeper threw down the gauntlet. “The directions given to match officials are unchanged. All bowlers will be closely monitored. Some bowlers who were previously suspended will be coming back. They will be more closely scrutinised than the others. The ICC-accredited centre in Brisbane centre is already on standby. The test results will be out in seven days. If the player’s action is found to be illegal, then he will be suspended and the team will be allowed a replacement player,” Richardson said at the Yarra Room of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

For a body that’s often called ‘toothless’, the ICC is going hammer and tongs on the menaces plaguing the game. Of late, that is. In an attempt to address the obvious imbalance between bat and ball, the ICC has even foreshadowed a move towards limiting the size of those monstrous bats with never-ending ‘sweet spots’. Not to forget sledging.

Richardson spoke of both issues at length.

“It’s a little bit too premature to talk with certainty on this (bats). But it is one of the measures that need to be considered going forward. And that will be done at the ICC Cricket Committee meeting in May. The MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club, custodian of the laws of cricket since 1787) also have a number of committees. We also need to consult the (bat) manufacturers. The other measures (the ICC is looking at are) are the balls and size of the playing field. There is no doubt that ODI cricket is in as a good a place as it has ever been. The type of cricket is so much more attacking. There are more boundaries and more number of wickets falling (than ever before). But there is a strong feeling that mishits are going for six. The stadiums are already built. (So, there’s not much we can do). But the ICC is considering the other factors to address that (im)balance,” he said.

There will be no room for any verbal duels either. In other words, players will have to let their performance do all the talking. “The issue of sledging was addressed at the pre-tournament team briefing. And as such, the crackdown started a few months ago. The behaviour in some matches by some players was deemed unacceptable. There have been 12 to 13 code of conduct charges laid down in the recent past. The penalties will be a little bit more or serious or higher than before (during the World Cup). Repeat offenders will be served with a suspension,” Richardson explained.

The 1992 World Cupper played down the demand for football-style yellow and red cards in cricket. “This has been debated already. It will probably be debated again. Look, the players have to respect the match officials. A lot of the decisions after taken after measured response. The officials view the match footage over and over again before handing out a punishment. That can’t happen when you brandish a yellow or red card. And that apart, the officials have been directed to take a firmer and more consistent approach,” he said.