County news July 8, 2011

PCA to meet ECB over player discipline

The Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA), the ECB umpires' manager and senior English umpires will meet next week in an attempt to quell the recent spate of poor behaviour in county cricket which has led to two leading players being suspended.

Sussex's Murray Goodwin became the second player within four days to be banned by the ECB on disciplinary grounds, following Essex captain James Foster's two-match suspension, amid increasing concern about behaviour standards in the domestic game. Somerset could become the second county to have their captain suspended when Marcus Trescothick faces a disciplinary panel next week.

The PCA is confident it isn't an issue that is getting out of hand, but is reacting to player concerns about the feedback system that is in place to evaluate umpires in the hope that a more efficient process can ensure better relations between players and officials.

"We have talked to the players and been proactive about it," Angus Porter, the PCA chief executive, told ESPNcricinfo. "What we have realised is that at the moment players don't have as much confidence as we'd like in the feedback process on umpiring performances.

"That's something we've acknowledged and will be sitting down with Chris Kelly, the umpires' manager, and some of the senior umpires next week to see if we can improve the process. I think it's important that the players have a mechanism for giving feedback and that they have the confidence in it so that they don't get frustrated."

Porter believes that part of the problem stems from the introduction of the DRS at international level which now gives players the ability to question the umpires' decisions. Although the system was designed to eliminate major errors it is more often used in 50-50 situations. The ICC has said it believes the system has aided on-field behaviour, but the problem is that it will never be a system available in domestic cricket.

"I'm not sure in this context the DRS has helped because it has created an expectation that under certain circumstances you can challenge the umpires' decision," Porter said. "Players have to learn how to manage that. DRS is good, we aren't saying it isn't, but players need to distinguish between the situations they are in."

The ban for Foster came under the 'totting-up' process where five or more offences within a 12-month period brings action from the ECB, but Porter was keen to a stress that a lot of the incidents are of a minor nature when taken on their own.

"If you look at the reports, the charges that are used in the totting-up procedure also include things like high-pitched deliveries as well as behaviour issues," he said. "In Foster's case they were five individual offences that merited not much more than a rap across the knuckles and five offences in 12 months is a level of discipline, I think, most teams sports would be delighted with. Yes, the problem exists but it's at a very low level."

"It's a little like two double-decker buses coming along at once," Ported added. "Some things have gone on in that it means there are two or three cases that have been heard in a short space of time. It is certainly true that in the last couple of years we've seen a bit of an increase in the number of offences, but I think it's wrong to leap to the conclusion that all those offences are connected with dissent for example."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jeff on July 9, 2011, 17:35 GMT

    It will soon get to the stage where teams nominate thier most junior player as the official 'captain' (but obviously the regular captain runs the side) to avoid the normal captain (who is usually one of the teams best players) missing games through no fault of his own. Bowlers winging down beamers, batsmen dissenting umpires calls, slow over rates... all things which are nothing whatsoever to do with the captain are blamed on him, and he takes all the bans/fines. Take the England team - if they had nominated thier worst player, ie Samit Patel, as captain, they could freely bowl at a reduced over rate and argue every lbw with the umpire, knowing the worst that could happen is Samit Patel could miss a couple of games.

  • Andy on July 9, 2011, 16:09 GMT

    Didn't bother looking at this for a while because I thought it said "PCB", and I thought "Here we go again..." On a serious note, I think that there's not as much of an issue as there appears to be on the surface. When Foster got suspended, I remember one of the offences being Ryan ten Doeschate bowling 2 beamers - how is the bowler accidently doing that twice the captain's fault? I agree it's becoming more of an issue, IMO due to influences from overpaid footballers these days, but things like above mean that I can't really take claims of a "recent spate of poor behaviour" too seriously.

  • Jagat on July 9, 2011, 12:53 GMT

    Agree totally with Freddiefantoo. The problem with DRS is that players can question the Umpire's decision. This should never have been allowed. All the technology offered by DRS should be available ONLY to the Umpires to help with their decisions; it should have nothing to do with the players.

  • Jos on July 9, 2011, 11:33 GMT

    I don't agree that the DRS is particularly to blame here - I think it's more the attitudes from Football penetrating other sports. I watch a lot of rugby league too and I've seen a lot more dissent creaping into that game too, but there is no equivalent to the DRS. Unfortunately, I think it's just that younger players are less willing to accept the umpires' authority, and as they move up in seniority in their teams the new players coming in see how the now senior players are behaving and copy it.

  • Dummy4 on July 8, 2011, 21:16 GMT

    The international use of DRS works fantastically well. However, it was always a bad idea and always will be a bad idea because it can't reflect the game as lower categories play it. It creates a culture that can work in international cricket (not least because of the intense media spotlight that keeps the players in line) but that does not work in domestic, amateur or recreational cricket. It should never have been introduced for this reason. The health of the game at all levels is worth more than a couple of poor decisions for those at the very top.

  • Bob on July 8, 2011, 19:02 GMT

    No good blaming the DRS because a) most of the players in the county game have never had experience of it and b) the international players that have experience of it don't play that much for their counties... So that's a red-herring...

  • Elizabeth on July 8, 2011, 18:14 GMT

    This increase in dissent following the introduction of the DRS was predictable and inevitable. The foundational principle of cricket used to be 'Players must accept the umpire's decision'. Under the DRS, that has been changed to 'Players need only accept the umpire's decision if they agree with it'. Once that approach is adopted at international level, it is only a matter of time before it appears at all levels of cricket. After all, if an international player can say 'The umpire got that wrong so I shouldn't be out', why not the player on the village green or the school playing field? Essentially, accepting decisions only when you agree with them is the rule that operates in practice in football, and we all know where that has led...

  • Justin on July 8, 2011, 16:24 GMT

    The DRS offers a right of appeal in certian circumstances however the players know the rules relating to it. If they are in breach of poor conduct then they should be punished.

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