Ball tampering row: ICC must let umpires dish out yellow and red cards for all situations in cricket matches

If you want to eliminate bad behaviour there needs to be a deterrent that is immediate, and enforced

Australian fielder Cameron Bancroft (R) throws the ball to Umpire Richard Illingworth (L) during the third day of the third Test cricket match between South Africa and Australia at Newlands cricket ground on March 24, 2018 in Cape Town. / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA
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When you think of football in the modern era - of players diving, arguing with referees and general bad behaviour - it does not immediately offer itself as the obvious role model from which other sports could learn.

Indeed as it struggles with the machinations of making Video Assistant Referee (VAR) work ahead of the World Cup, it is a sport with many officiating issues of its own.

But as cricket it deals with one of the darkest weeks in its history following the ball-tampering affair with Australia, it could do with fully implementing the basic on-field disciplinary measures of the yellow and red card system used by football.

Yes, the Australia players involved in the ball-tampering affair are facing retrospective action for the incident in the third Test with South Africa, but imagine if immediate justice had been dealt with during the action in Cape Town?

What if umpires Nigel Llong and Richard Illingworth, following consultation with the TV umpire and conversations with Cameron Bancroft and Australia captain Steve Smith, had sent off Barncroft for the rest of the match for trying to tamper with the ball?

Australia would have been down to 10 men for the rest of the match, both in the field and when they batted.

The public would have seen justice dolled out fast that also had a consequence, with Bancroft, and the team, facing further penalties and a post-match investigation.

An update to the laws of the game, sanctioned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) last September now actually allows an umpire to send off players during a match. But that is currently limited to acts of violence, or threatening an act of violence, on another player or officials.

That is not dealing with the other misbehaviour that is becoming increasingly prevalent in the game, which is too often justified by players as being either "banter" or being within "the line".

The ICC should consider expanding the sending off options to include ball tampering and other less savoury elements of the game, including sledging, send-offs when a batsman is dismissed, and physical contact.

If bad behaviour is to be eliminated, there needs to be a deterrent that is immediate, and enforced. Clearly cricket does not currently have that judging by some of the unpleasant conduct, from both sides, in the South Africa v Australia series.


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Soccer Football - Bundesliga - RB Leipzig vs Bayern Munich - Red Bull Arena, Leipzig, Germany - March 18, 2018   Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski is shown a yellow card by referee Marco Fritz   REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel    DFL RULES TO LIMIT THE ONLINE USAGE DURING MATCH TIME TO 15 PICTURES PER GAME. IMAGE SEQUENCES TO SIMULATE VIDEO IS NOT ALLOWED AT ANY TIME. FOR FURTHER QUERIES PLEASE CONTACT DFL DIRECTLY AT + 49 69 650050
Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski is shown a yellow card. High time it was introduced in cricket, too. Matthias Rietschel / Reuters

Not every offence needs to be a red card, of course. Umpires can caution a player if they feel they have done something that breaches the rules, or is against the "spirit" of the game.

Two yellows in a match and a player is sent off, like in football. Perhaps a one-match ban if three yellows are issued over a six month period.

That is easier to understand then the current demerit point system used by the ICC, and the convoluted and differing levels of offences.

Cricket is evolving, not all for the better, and the laws of the game need to be updated.

Too often clashes on the pitch have little consequence, only a post-match statement released to announce a player has been fined a certain amount of his fee and had demerit points put to his name.

Make it simpler and easier to follow and have more immediate consequences for bad behaviour and attempts at cheating.

Will players continue to push the “line” if their behaviour could impact directly on their team’s performance on the field in that match? Given the stupidity of the ball-tampering incident and the thought processes behind it that is debatable.

But fully following in the footsteps of football, as surprising as it sounds, could be a way forward and is something that should be looked at.