ECB takes strong line on discipline
- Three bodies working together to improve discipline in recreational cricket.
- Cricket Discipline Commission changes the burden of proof to mirror civil law.
- Giles Clarke: “ECB will take a strong line in maintaining discipline.”
- Keith Bradshaw: “MCC believes that the responsibility for upholding the Spirit of Cricket must lie with the captains.”
MCC, ECB and PCA have agreed to work together with other stakeholders to improve discipline in cricket.
The ECB’s Cricket Discipline Commission, chaired by Gerard Elias QC, set up a working party to examine the disciplinary and appeals process in the recreational game.
This resulted in a change in the standard of proof in all cricket disciplinary hearings, so that it mirrored civil rather than criminal law – i.e. on the balance of probabilities rather than beyond reasonable doubt, thereby allowing cases to be heard and decisions made more swiftly.
In addition, a system akin to football, where red and yellow cards are issued to badly behaved players, has been considered but dismissed by both organisations.
The two bodies agreed that the Laws of Cricket are in place for all games of cricket, often between teams who provide their own umpires, sometimes chosen from amongst the batting team and that in these cases it would not be possible to introduce red and yellow cards for the use of umpires.
Furthermore, even in more regulated cricket up to and including first-class level, both organisations felt that the use of yellow cards undermines the role of the captain and his responsibilities under One Game and the Spirit of Cricket.
Giles Clarke, chairman of the ECB, said: “It is important for the ECB to take a strong line in maintaining or restoring discipline through the education of coaches, umpires and captains, imposing sanctions where necessary and taking a consistent, firm stance to ensure that standards in cricket are high.
“The ECB’s One Game campaign ensures all those involved in cricket uphold the shared values of respect, pride and passion to ensure that we are united in protecting the fabric of our sport.”
Keith Bradshaw, secretary and chief executive of MCC, added: “Cricket needs to be acknowledged as a fully inclusive sport which insists upon and instils the highest standards of behaviour in players.
“MCC inserted the Spirit of Cricket as the preamble to the Laws of Cricket in 2000 and has worked in promoting the concept ever since, through its own playing programme, overseas tours, the annual Cowdrey Lecture and various initiatives aimed at schoolchildren.
“MCC firmly believes that the responsibility for upholding the Spirit of Cricket must lie with the captains.”
Sean Morris, chief executive of the PCA, added it is important for all parts of the game to be aligned and recognise that we all have a responsibility to promote the game in the best possible way.
Roger Knight, chairman of the ECB Association of Cricket Officials and a former MCC secretary and chief executive, said: “In 2000, MCC decided that red and yellow cards were not the answer to ill-discipline and did not introduce them into the new edition of the Laws.
“Those Laws were agreed by the MCC Cricket Committee, MCC members and the International Cricket Council, who were consulted throughout the two years of redrafting.
“It is hard to see what has changed in the last eight years to reverse that decision. Any statement or decision which alters that position changes the whole relationship between captains, players and umpires.”
Looking ahead, the plan for the future improvement of behavioural standards is to influence young players through their coaches.
Mike Gatting, head of cricket partnerships at the ECB, pointed out how this would be done: “ECB will be using the Sky Sports Coach Education Programme which provides best practice and advice to 13,000 coaches in England and Wales to ensure that the correct standards are instilled into the cricketers of the future.
“Furthermore, published fair play leagues within Premier Leagues will highlight the importance of good behaviour. Disciplinary committees will be encouraged to continue to support officials who report abuse.”