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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 February 2008, 10:58 GMT
ICC pledges to eliminate sledging
By Paul Fletcher

Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh
Harbhajan Singh was alleged to have 'sledged' Andrew Symonds
The International Cricket Council wants umpires to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to sledging after an appeal by the Indian board to introduce a ban.

Umpires will use the ICC's existing code of conduct to decide whether a verbal exchange between players falls into the category of abuse.

"The code of conduct is seen as a fulsome and robust document," said ICC spokesman James Fitzgerald.

"It will still be very much up to the umpires to decide where that line is."

The decision to stamp out sledging - the verbal abuse of players - was taken at a meeting of the ICC's chief executives' committee in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.


"The member countries have agreed that ICC will take a zero-tolerance approach," said an ICC statement.

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed is to write to match officials, umpires and the heads of cricket boards to inform them of the decision.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) introduced the proposal, with secretary Niranjan Shah telling BBC Sport prior to the meeting: "Sledging is not required in cricket. It's not good for the game."

ICC Code of conduct - law 2.8
Using language that is obscene, offensive or of a seriously insulting nature to another player, umpire, referee, team official or spectator.
(It is acknowledged that there will be verbal exchanges between players in the course of play. Rather than seeking to eliminate these exchanges entirely, umpires will look to lay charges when this falls below an acceptable standard. In this instance, language will be interpreted to include gestures)

India's recent Test series in Australia was marred by controversy after spinner Harbhajan Singh was charged for allegedly racially abusing Australia's Andrew Symonds, though the off-spinner was later cleared at an appeal.

The indent received massive press coverage in both countries, while the Indian team threatened to boycott the remainder of their Australian tour.

The ICC does not expect the new approach to entirely eliminate verbal exchanges during matches - but it has defended claims that the law will be difficult to effectively enforce.

Umpires will be expected to use the context of a match or series and its location to determine what constitutes sledging.

"Law 2.8 of the code of conduct says it is an offence to use language that is obscene, offensive or seriously insulting in nature," said Fitzgerald.

"There is a bit in brackets that explains what that means. It is acknowledged that there will be verbal exchanges between players during the course of play.

"Rather then trying to eliminate these exchanges entirely umpires will look to lay charges where this falls below an acceptable standard.

"Umpires will still be called upon to explain where this acceptable standard is and that can depend on the context of the game or the context of a series.

"What might be deemed acceptable in the first over of a Test match between two teams may not be acceptable in the fifth Test because of things that have gone on. That is where common sense comes in.

"The top umpires are experienced with not only cricket but also travelling and different cultures. They know that the language used in first-grade cricket in Sydney may not be acceptable when one team is playing another from a different culture."

The ICC's chief executives' committee comprises the 10 ICC full members, plus three representatives from ICC associate members and is chaired by ICC chief executive Speed.

Their proposal is not expected to be opposed when it is put before the full ICC board at their next meeting on 18 March.

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