The push to curb poor sportsmanship in cricket

The cricket World Cup tournament begins on Saturday, February 14 and will last until the finals on Sunday, March 29, ensuring that the cricket loving parts of the world will see a marked decline in productivity during that period. Australia and New Zealand are hosting the tournament. In the lead up to it, increasing attention is being paid to the issue of poor sportsmanship on the field, mainly in the form of ‘sledging’ where players on the field exchange barbs with the goal of unsettling opponents and waging psychological warfare.

I hate this kind of behavior with a passion since I believe that good sportsmanship should be something that is instilled in every player (and spectator) at every level of every game and that the players at the top should be role models for such behavior and not exhibit boorish behavior the way that some do. What is worse is that they are even encouraged in it by the leadership of some national teams, like the coaches and administrators, people who should know better.

Former Australian captain Ian Chappell says that there is far too much chatter going on in the field and steps must be taken to reduce its quantity and improve its nature before things get really out of hand.

The more players talk on the field, the more the likelihood there is of something personal being said. If something personal is said at the wrong time, there will eventually be an altercation on the field. When that happens it will be players who are punished and as is almost always the case, the administrators will escape scot-free, despite being guilty of allowing the problem to escalate to this point.

Apart from the danger of an altercation on the field – and if you don’t think that could be ugly, just remember two players have bats in hand – there is the simple matter of the batsman being entitled to peace and quiet while he’s out in the middle. I’m surprised more batsmen don’t object to the inane chatter that regularly occurs in the guise of gamesmanship. And if I hear one more player, coach or official say this chatter is “part of the game”, I’ll lose my lunch.

There’s a big difference between gamesmanship and personal abuse, or the constant inane chatter fielders use to try to distract batsmen.

Any abuse should result in the offender being spoken to in no uncertain terms by the umpires. If it continues then the offender should be hit with a substantial suspension, one that will cause him and other players to think twice before they mouth off again. And umpires should be told by the administrators that they will be backed to the hilt in an endeavour to rid the game of both abuse and excessive chatter.

Sidharth Monga writes that Australia, England, and India are the worst offenders, with Australia easily topping that list. Former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe points to Australian David Warner as one major offender who has been involved in many incidents and has been fined by the ICC, although he remains unapologetic and has been backed by the team coach. Like Chappell, Crowe to is worried that if unchecked this kind of behavior will escalate and lead to an actual physical confrontation. Crowe says that monetary fines don’t mean much to rich cricketers and instead advocates a football-like system where umpires issue yellow and red cards for bad behavior, with two yellows being equivalent to a red and carrying with it an automatic six-month suspension from the game.

There are some encouraging signs that the governing body the International Cricket Council is planning to take action to stamp out such behavior, with umpires being told to “manage on-field behavior more assertively” and to dish out more severe punishments. Right now, the punishments are harsher for things like slow over rate than for poor behavior.

I hope the ICC comes up with strict guidelines for what is and is not allowed and instruct umpires and match referees to unhesitatingly apply the rules, and back them up when they do.


  1. Donnie says

    I love my sports, but I just cannot understand cricket 🙁 However, I am sure that non-Americans just do not understand baseball, so there’s that :/ My Polish friend who came for a visit once said at a baseball game when bases were loaded, “There’s four men on the bases!” The 3rd base coach was talking with the runner on 3rd base. We all had a chuckle and then I tried to explain the game and ended up saying, “You just need to play the game and learn the rules while playing” Is cricket much the same? I am sure that cricket, like baseball, is more complex than just “Hit the ball and run!”

  2. says

    Wireless microphones aren’t that heavy. The players could be required to wear them and disciplined for inappropriate behaviour.

    Alternatively, cricket organizers could place sensitive multidirectional microphones at the base of the wickets. Being behind the wickets on the ground means they won’t interfere with play, but could pick up everything that’s said. It’s similar to the NHL’s in-goal cameras which don’t interfere with the game but have become very useful to officials making calls.

    Here’s one from just yesterday:

  3. Mano Singham says


    I know they have a camera at the base of the wickets but don’t know if they have a microphone. One can hear players talking sometimes and I don’t know if that is from a microphone in the wickets or from the ones the umpires wear to communicate with the match referee and the third umpire who looks at video.

    The main problem seems to be not that no one hears the exchanges since the umpires are just there near the batsmen. It is that there is no system of penalties.

  4. Donnie says

    @Mano Singham says

    “I wrote up a brief explanation of cricket using baseball as a reference, so that it would be more understandable to Americans. Check it out and let me know if it makes sense.”

    Makes sense! I always wondered what “60 on 10 over” meant. I tried playing as a wee kid in England but I could not stop swinging like a baseball batter and hitting the wicket. I was informed that this was bad, and did not get any invites back to play. That was fine, because I enjoyed football more for I could run all the time.

  5. jockmcdock says


    I think modern camera stumps have an in-built microphone. It’s used to detect whether the bat makes contact with the bat. This sound is fed into an oscilloscope where the pattern and timing of the sound can be visualised. (known as the Snickometer or “Snicko”). The microphones used by the umpires would not suffice as both umpires are quite some way from the batsman on strike.

    I find it a bit rich that Chapelli (that’s his nickname not a typo) is warning against sledging. The team he led was known as “the ugly Australians” and included shrinking violets like Dennis Lillee and Rodney Marsh. And a couple of years later, we had the Lillee-Miandad incident, although that was under brother Greg’s captaincy.

  6. Mano Singham says


    Thanks for that information. I was wondering what the source of the Snickometer was.

  7. Holms says

    Not to mention the underarm incident of ’81, under the captaincy of his younger brother Greg. There is an air of winning by any means that I find disheartening in many sports.

  8. jockmcdock says


    what a nightmare that was. On that particular day, I was riding my motor bike from the Victorian coast in the direction of my hometown Adelaide. I decided to watch the NZ innings and booked into a motel in a place called Mount Gambier. The guy at the check in and I had a great little conversation about cricket. I went to my room and watched the game. When it became apparent what Greg planned on the last ball, I started yelling at the TV. Words not repeatable.

    A little later, I went out to get something to eat. The guy I’d talked to earlier was on the front desk again. We looked at each other. He looked like he had just lost his nearest and dearest. I’m sure I did too. We didn’t exchange a word. We just looked at each other and shook our heads.

    The only time I’ve been ashamed to be an Aussie…OK, I cringe sometimes when I see some of our uglier tourists overseas, but…

  9. Mano Singham says

    Richie Benaud, the commentator and former Australian captain, was absolutely livid about what happened, although he spoke in his usual calm way. I am sure that you would have heard his views on it but just in case, here it is.

    For those not familiar with what happened, here is the infamous underarm incident. Underarm bowling is now illegal, I believe.

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