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Is now the time to introduce red cards in Cricket?

Cricket is a sport that has earned a great reputation for its good sportsmanship and etiquette, but recent years have shown that behaviour on the field has worsened in recent years. There is always a line, particularly with sledging and major stars within the game have been punished for their actions on the big stage.

England bowler James Anderson is someone who has been accused of sledging on several occasions throughout his years as an international. He was charged for pushing Indian player Ravi Jadeja in 2014, although the charges were later dropped after a successful appeal. Anderson has also been on the receiving end of sledging, having taken a mouthful from Michael Clarke in 2013, who told Anderson to ‘get ready for a broken arm’.

Anderson spoke out in 2015 about how he wanted to end sledging in Ashes series’, after how positively New Zealand conducted themselves during their tour of England.

“I hope it’s played in the same nature as the New Zealand series, that was a really positive series and the nature of both sides’ cricket was helped by the spirit the game was played in,”

Is behaviour in cricket becoming inappropriate? If recent steps taken by the MCC World Cricket Committee are anything to by, then the answer is yes.

To curb the perceived increase in violence on cricket fields, red cards are to be introduced into the game from October 1.

For the first time in the history of the sport, cricket will introduce a law aimed to deter bad behaviour. Player offences will be ranked in an all-new four-tier disciplinary system, with punishments ranging from a warning to removal from the field of play for the remainder of the match.

The new system will look like this:

Level 1

Excessive appealing.

Showing dissent at an umpire’s decision.

Punishment – following an official warning, a second offence will result in five penalty runs being conceded.

Level 2

Throwing the ball at al player.

Making deliberate physical contact with an opponent.

Punishment – five penalty runs being conceded.

Level 3

Intimidating an umpire

Threatening to assault another player, team official or spectator

Punishment – five penalty runs being conceded and the removal of the offending player for a set number of overs.

Level 4

Threatening an umpire.

Any other act of violence on the field of play

Punishment – the removal of the offending player for the remainder of the match.

On-field sanctions were trialled in the UK during the 2016, and the laws of the game have been widely discussed for quite some time now. Along with the four-tier disciplinary system, there will also be a sin-bin style dismissal in which players can be sent to the side-lines for a ‘set number of overs’. It is yet to be confirmed as to whether umpires will physically brandish a card, or simply ask for a player to leave the field.

Members of the MCC World Cricket Committee cited a decline in behaviour at grassroots level to be the most significant factor in introducing the sanctions. The committee is made of several current and ex-international cricketers, including Ricky Ponting, Kumar Sangakkara and Brendon McCullum. Head of the committee, Mike Brearley said in December 2016:

“Anecdotal evidence from people who are familiar with leagues in part of England tells us that the behaviour has got a lot worse. Umpires have to be respected, and given the best possible chance.”

So, has cricket made a big step in deterring players from behaving badly, or is it a case of acting without enough evidence? Have you ever seen an act of violence take place on a cricket field? Is this the best way to tackle the problem?