Umpires too lenient, time to penalise abusive language from players severely


The ugly scenes at Lord’s, including one where the ‘F’ word was used in an audible altercation between the Indian captain Virat Kohli and England pacer James Anderson, has put the spotlight on umpires who are seemingly being lenient on players using obscene words.

According to Article 2.3 of the ICC (International Cricket Council) Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, the “use of an audible obscenity during an international match” constitutes a level 1 charge.

A footnote to it says, “Article 2.3 covers the use of words commonly known and understood to be offensive, obscene and/or profane (in any language) and which can be heard by the spectators and/or the viewing public whether by way of the stump-microphone or otherwise. This conduct may include, for example, swearing in frustration at one’s own play or fortune.”

The clause in the ICC Code of Conduct makes it clear that the umpires need to charge the guilty player under level 1 which carries an official reprimand as minimum penalty and 50 percent of match fees and one or two demerit points as the maximum penalty.

The wider debate, however, is should the umpires allow the game to be sullied by such behaviour on the field or should they call it out and make an example of the player.

Cricket has traditionally been a gentleman’s game.

However, in the name of aggression and win-at-all-costs attitude, which was first initiated by the Australian team, certain unwritten rules related to the spirit of cricket were broken.

Former Australia skipper Steve Waugh’s side took it to another level as it tried to make life difficult for the opposition.

The verbal volleys between Aussie Glenn MacGrath and West Indian Ramnaresh Sarwan was a prime example of how abusing someone’s family member was becoming acceptable among cricketers.

Though umpires have, time and again, penalised players with level 1 action like they did with Jonny Bairstow in November 2019, during an England-New Zealand T20I, there has to be a strong deterrent and more severe penalty to protect the sanctity of the game.

The ICC needs to take the lead on this.