Melbourne: Following the ongoing debate as to what exactly separates legitimate aggression from verbal abuse, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has warned that any player who cross the divide can expect harsher sanctions during the coming World Cup.
The game's powerbrokers are in the midst of a series of pre-World Cup briefings with the 14 competing nations and one of the key messages being imparted is that breaches of cricket's Code of Conduct will be viewed dimly.
The International Cricket Council's general manager, former Victorian Sheffield Shield batsman Geoff Allardice, said Saturday that any player who oversteps that mark between gamesmanship and intimidation would find themselves significantly lighter in the pocket.
And possibly serving time on the sidelines if the nature of the transgression is deemed to escalate beyond the base level of mandated offences.
These 'Level Two' offences include displays of serious on-field dissent and serious cases of public criticism or inappropriate comments.
"The main message is that the umpires over the last four months or so have been quite strong in the way that they've been reporting players who step over the line in the way that they conduct themselves to the umpire, or to their opponents or to the game," Allardice was quoted as saying by Cricket Australia (CA) website.
"For the (World Cup) tournament itself, the umpires probably aren't going to do a lot different in terms of reporting players but the penalties might be a touch higher than they otherwise would be.
"A Level One offence you've only got the option of fines and a majority of the incidents that occur in matches are at that level, so it might be steeper fines. If players are reported on a Level Two charges then suspension is an option.
"We don't take the suspension of players lightly and there's not going to be an over-reaction in that regard but I think if a player does step across the line to that extent that warrants a suspension then I think the referees will consider that."
The World Cup begins Feb 14 with matches in Melbourne and Christchurch, with the final to be staged at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) March 29.