By Charles Randall
15 April 2017
The MCC decided that the evidence from the 2016 experiment, which gave umpires new powers to deal with bad on-field behaviour, clinched the need to take serious action. Under a new Law 42 from October onwards players can be sent off the field and batsmen can be dismissed 'retired out' as the result of misdemeanour.
Enshrining ideas into the Laws of Cricket has been done after only a couple of years of assessment. Such fundamental changes would normally take longer, but the need to deter bad on-field behaviour has become pressing, especially as there seems to be increasing disillusionment among umpires.
Though the Laws will arm umpires with devastating sanctions, the evidence from trials has suggested that the serious misdemeanor will not happen due to the deterrent effect when the sharpness of the Law is absorbed by the cricket community.
The most serious offences have been designated as Level 4. These include threatening to assault an umpire, making inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with an umpire, physically assaulting a player or any other person and committing any other act of violence. Spitting would be included here.
From October the person in the white coat can respond in this way. The umpire will instruct the captain to remove the offending player immediately from the field of play for the remainder of the match. No substitute field will be allowed, and an offending batsman will be dismissed 'retired out' even before the start of the player's innings, if that is the case.
Five penalty runs will be awarded to the opposition. The captain will be warned that any future offence, even Level One, will result in the award of five penalty runs to the opposing team. The incident will be reported to the club executive and governing body responsible for the match, previously the only proper sanction available until the Law change. If the captains do not co-operate with instructions, the match could even be abandoned.
The MCC said that changes had been introduced after widespread consultation, surveys with players and umpires and a series of trials of the different levels of sanctions.
In 2016 an experiment giving umpires the power to send off abusive players was monitored in three ECB premier leagues. The leagues of Hertfordshire, Home Counties and Bradford, alongside the MCC-sponsored universities and a few schools, agreed to arm their umpires with the power to caution and to send off abusive players, and all three leagues noted that on-field behaviour improved markedly.
Mark Williams, a member of the MCC Laws panel, said that each league wanted to continue the system. No Level 3 or 4 transgressions were recorded during the summer, and Williams commented: “The key was that the players, umpires and captains were aware. There was banter about sending-off and so on, but nobody crossed the line."
Laws with such teeth are unsettling, but these hard-and-fast rules probably reflect trends in society, and reports of violent cricketing incidents have been on the rise.
Level 1 offences- wilfully mistreating any part of the cricket ground, equipment or implements used in the match- showing dissent at an umpire’s decision by word or action- using language that, in the circumstances, is obscene, offensive or insulting- making an obscene gesture- appealing excessively- advancing towards an umpire in an aggressive manner when appealing- any other misconduct, the nature of which is, in the opinion of the umpires, equivalent to a Level 1 offence.
Level 2 offences:- showing serious dissent at an umpire’s decision by word or action- making inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with another player- throwing the ball at a player, umpire or another person in an inappropriate and dangerous manner- using language or gesture to another player, umpire, team official or spectator that, in the circumstances, is obscene or of a serious insulting nature- or any other misconduct, the nature of which is, in the opinion of the umpires, equivalent to a Level 2 offence.
Level 3 offences:- intimidating an umpire by language or gesture- threatening to assault a player or any other person except an umpire.
Level 4 offences- threatening to assault an umpire- making inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with an umpire- physically assaulting a player or any other person- committing any other act of violence.
Sanctions under new Law 42Level 1: Warning then five penalty runs to the opposition for a repeat offence.Level 2: 5 Penalty runs to the opposition.Level 3: Offending player is suspended for a number of overs, depending on the length of the match, plus five penalty runs to the opposition.Level 4: Offending player is removed from the field for the rest of the match, plus five penalty runs to the opposition.For all offences under Level 1-4, the umpire will call Time and summon the relevant captain, who will be informed of the breach of Law and the associated penalty. If appropriate, the umpire will instruct the captain to remove the offending player from the field.New signals for Level 3 and Level 4 offences have been created,