ICC tries to stamp out sledging

The International Cricket Council has announced a "zero tolerance" crackdown on offensive language and gestures in the sport. As part of its drive to eradicate sledging, the ICC sent a letter to international match officials and the captains and chief executives of full-member teams and leading one-day sides calling for their support.

The letter has asked all concerned to learn from India's recent acrimonious tour of Australia where the visitors' spinner Harbhajan Singh was accused of racially abusing the home side's Andrew Symonds and Australia's Matthew Hayden was reprimanded by his national federation for calling the Indian spinner an "obnoxious weed".

"It was announced that the ICC would in future be taking a zero tolerance approach to the use of offensive language," the letter stated. "We acknowledge that every incident is highlighted and sensationalised in the media, often with very little objectivity, but ... there have been several controversial incidents on the field which originated from the use by players of language or gestures which are considered obscene, offensive or insulting."

The ICC said verbal exchanges could not be eliminated entirely, so umpires had to decide what they felt were acceptable levels.