ICC CEO David Richardson has called on cricketers to stop bad on-field behaviour as he gave sledging the thumbs down.
Richardson made these comments during the 2018 MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture. In a fascinating and far-reaching address, Richardson paid tribute to great characters of the game such as Colin Milburn and Colin Cowdrey, both of whom he met as a young man embarking on his cricket career. He also drew a strong line between what he believes is acceptable and not acceptable behaviour on the field.
‘Over the last few months I’ve read comments from players requesting guidance on what is allowed in relation to the ball. Asking if they can chew gum, wear sunscreen or drink a sugary drink, and to be brutally honest, I find this a little disingenuous,’ said Richardson.
‘The laws are simple and straightforward – do not change the condition of the ball using an artificial substance. If you are wearing sunscreen, sucking a mint or chewing gum with the intent of using the cream or sugary saliva on the ball, you are ball-tampering.
‘You may not always get caught, we are not going to stop players chewing gum or from wearing sunscreen. There are many players who have chewed gum on the field throughout their careers, and never once thought to use it on the ball, but if you are caught, then don’t complain. Saying others do it is not a defence – you are cheating.’
Richardson also weighed in on players’ on-field behaviour, particularly relating to sledging.
‘I think in most cases sledging/chirping is a waste of time, often resorted to by players who are trying to psyche themselves up or boost their own lack of confidence, and very often it’s counter-productive.
‘Sledging that amounts to no more than personal abuse, fielders giving send-offs to batsmen who have been dismissed, unnecessary physical contact, players threatening not to play in protest against an umpire’s decision and ball-tampering. This isn’t the version of our sport that we want to project to the world,’ said Richardson.
He then shared a humorous comment made by Proteas teammate Pat Symcox to Aussie opener Matthew Hayden.
‘In the second innings of the final Test, he got a duck. As he passed Pat Symcox on the way back to the dressing room Pat said, “Don’t worry Matt, Donald Bradman also made a duck in his last Test innings”.’
The former Proteas wicketkeeper-batsman’s sentiments will surely echo around the world with all true cricket-lovers, and the ICC has been fortunate to have a man of his calibre at its helm.