ECB crackdown after five players show dissent to umpires

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The Independent Online

County cricketers have been warned about their behaviour. With five players found guilty this week of showing dissent at umpires' decisions the game is determined to prevent it spreading.

"There is more dissent than we would like," said Alan Fordham, first class operations manager for the England and Wales Cricket Board. "We saw an increase last season and at the start of this all players were reminded of their responsibilities by the disciplinary committee."

The recent offenders have included the Kent captain and former England captain, Rob Key, who was reported by umpires after a match against Northamptonshire last month for a level one breach of the ECB code. He has been reprimanded.

There were two level two breaches which involve serious dissent, with Murray Goodwin of Sussex and Jimmy Adams of Hampshire, both receiving three disciplinary points each. Goodwin had already been reprimanded for a previous breach of the rules.

Fordham said: "I don't want to say this early in the season whether the graph is going up. But we want umpires to act and we feel the present system acts as an appropriate deterrent. We have had very few repeat offenders since it was introduced.

"We don't want a game where players don't show their feelings, but we want to stop bad behaviour and dissent developing."

The ECB was deeply concerned by a sharp rise in offences last summer, the worst since the disciplinary code was introduced in 2008. Seventeen players were punished for level two breaches and 14 under level one. That is why players were reminded of their responsibilities this summer.

Fordham said there was no evidence from umpires that their decisions were regularly being disputed on the field, but the spate of offences in the past few weeks and the collective announcement of punishments suggests the ECB is keen to make its point.

However, players have plenty of leeway. A level two offence usually brings with it three penalty points and it takes nine for a playing ban to be imposed.

It's just not cricket: Incidents which tarnished the game

Gatting v Rana (1987)

After his appeal for a catch was turned down, Former England captain Mike Gatting shook his head and muttered "one rule for one, one for another". Later, Pakistan umpire Shakoor Rana accused Gatting of cheating, triggering a furious finger-wagging row.

Ilott v Croft (1997)

Mark Ilott, left-arm seamer for Essex, and Robert Croft, Glamorgan off-spinner, were friends and England team-mates, but emotions ran high in a Natwest Trophy semi-final, culminating in Ilott's on-field shove on Croft.

Udal v Wyatt (2003)

Playing in the Surrey Championship, former England spinner Shaun Udal received plenty of abuse but snapped after a comment was made towards his batting partner, who was deaf. Udal wrestled the opposing Australian leg-spinner, Alex Wyatt, to the ground.

Vermaelen v the world (2006)

Zimbabwean all-rounder Mark Vermaelen was banned from English cricket for 10 years after a violent altercation with a fan in the Lancashire league. Later in the year, he set fire to the Harare cricket academy.