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EDITORIAL: Send them off! It’s not cricket…

Dean Lawson Editorial Nov 2017

For those of us old enough to remember, there was a glaring problem with country football that was dangerous and ugly.
It was a sport that left a door ajar for thugs to play a major role in the outcome of a contest with violence, especially in grand finals.
At times, the game was also rife with poor player behaviour towards umpires and officials. Penalties only came long after the conclusion of a game.
In a modern world of evolving sensibilities, this eventually became unacceptable and there was widespread understanding that, for the good of the game, it was an issue that needed fixing.
Along came the red and yellow cards and with them, the send-off rule that not only punished players for indiscretions, but also teams which had to try to cope without a full contingent of playing personnel on the ground.
The impact was profound and while we still get the odd brawl and incident, the days of all-in bloody and brutal fistfights and crude and relentless tirades directed at umpires are things of the past.
Crucially, with coaches unwilling to risk serious disadvantage of being a player down during the heat of sporting battle, the send-off rule had its desired effect. It has been a major success story.
Some of us can’t help but wonder whether this type of radical approach to ‘clean up the game’ might now be appropriate for international cricket.
There seems little doubt, based on the background of the cheating scandal, a story many of us are sick of hearing about, that players have long breached the traditional boundaries of decency in the game and there is a need for action.
What about a send-off rule? Sounds ridiculous and certainly not cricket, but imagine the immediate impact.
Methods of cheating in cricket such as ball tampering have their genesis from players developing or inheriting a lack of respect for opponents, umpires and the game overall. It can unveil itself in a moment of frustration in the form of simple but nasty sledges that grow like a cancer.
Sledging has always been part of cricket, especially clever or funny exchanges, but there has never been a place in the game for personal or aggressive verbal attacks. That is certainly ‘not cricket’.
Standing up and letting efforts with bat and ball do the talking is what cricket is really all about.
Arming umpires with a send-off rule for serious on-field indiscretions would provide them with the potential to punish a team, not just individuals, and work to reclaim and tighten behavioral boundaries.
Imagine a team’s disadvantage in losing a bowler, batter or fielder for a penalty 10 overs, especially in tight and elite competition. It would be dramatic and force team leaders to enforce stricter codes of conduct.
It would also reduce the need for authorities to come in afterwards with a big stick to bludgeon a player out of the game.
Cricket is a national pastime steeped in tradition. But the levels of pressure and expectation to succeed at all costs, from elite to domestic levels, seems to have caught up with the game.
It might be that even threatening to introduce send-off rules would be enough to influence behaviour – few of us, after all, really enjoy seeing too much radical change in our traditional sports.
But to paraphrase a much-used quote – ‘for things to stay the same, something has to change’.

The entire April 4, 2018 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Apr 4 2018

Posted by on Apr 4 2018. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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