The gentleman's game just got a whole lot stricter to ensure it remains a gentleman's game. This after the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced on Monday that it had decided to strengthen its Code of Conduct and include new offences as well as change the severity of several existing ones.
In the backdrop of the infamous ball-tampering incident in South Africa in March in which three Australian cricketers pleaded guilty, the ICC in its five-day Annual Conference in Dublin concluded that there is an increased need to strengthen its Code of Conduct to maintain the integrity of cricket in all formats and at all levels. Now, the following changes will come into effect to ensure that cricket continues to be played in the right spirit.
Attempting to gain unfair advantage (cheating, other than ball tampering - Level 2, 3 offence
Personal abuse - Level 2, 3 offence
Audible obscenity - Level 1 offence
Disobeying an umpire's decision - Level 1 offence
Changing the condition of the ball - Level 3 offence (increased from Level 2)
Of the above, the first four are new offences according to the ICC.
The ICC also announced that the maximum sanction for a Level 3 offence has now been increased from 8 suspension points to 12 suspension points which is equivalent to 6 Tests or 12 ODIs. It has also been decided that the match referee will now hear Level 1, 2 and 3 charges with a Judicial Commissioner only hearing Level 4 charges and appeals, informed a press release from ICC.
The policy regarding stump microphone has also been updated and now, recording from it can broadcast at any point in time during a match - including when the ball is dead.
Perhaps the most significant change however lies in the fact that the ICC has agreed to hold member boards accountable for how their national players conduct themselves. If a player from a particular country has an offence which 'exceeds a certain threshold', the board to which he belongs may also face sanctions. "There is a clear desire here to reclaim cricket's unique proposition as a game that people can trust in and for us all to live the spirit of cricket in a way that is relevant in the 21st century," said ICC chief executive Dave Richardson.