January 20, 2002

Code crackdown results in extension of Yock's suspension

New Zealand Cricket chief executive Martin Snedden has successfully appealed a five-day suspension on Canterbury's Ben Yock and the suspension has been extended to 13 days.

Snedden has been firm in his resolve to tidy up cricket and the appeal review by NZC Code of Conduct Commissioner Nicholas Davidson backed this stance.

Yock was reported for breaching the code of conduct in an A team game between Canterbury and Central Districts on December 31. The hearing was not held until January 10.

Yock had been given out leg before wicket by umpire Jeremy Busby and upon returning to the pavilion a loud crash was followed by a comment "Busby, you are a wanker."

Davidson said that although 70 metres from the action the umpires heard the comment.

In presenting evidence to the appeal hearing, Busby said Yock was disappointed at the lbw decision but had not expressed any dissent when dismissed.

"He had returned to the pavilion while the players and umpires were in a huddle for the drinks breaks. The words used were then heard clearly, and some Central Districts players expressed their displeasure to the umpires," Davidson commented.

"He said his own reaction was one of 'surprise, shock and worry'. It is a mark of his professionalism that Mr Busby's concern included the latter element. As an umpire of some 20 years experience, he asked himself whether he had missed something. He said while dissent had lead him to make code of conduct reports on two occasions, he has never been addressed or heard himself addressed in an abusive way, as here."

Snedden was firm in his evidence and said as an experienced player Yock should have known better.

Davidson said Snedden's view was that abuse of an umpire was a very serious breach, and much worse than some exchanges between players.

"He regarded the effective penalty of one playing day inadequate," Davidson said.

Yock was represented by Garth Gallaway in the hearing and he said an apology had been tendered to the umpires by Yock and it had been acknowledged by the Canterbury Association's commissioner that the abuse was not a personal comment and it was not delivered on the field or face to face.

In making his decision Davidson said: "While there are unusual aspects to this case, the first point to record is that any form of dissent and/or abuse of an umpire must be treated very seriously. The umpires must have solid support against any such abuse or dissent. They have a critical role in the way the game is played, and dissent and/or abuse must be firmly dealt with.

"In this case, the player's remark may not have been made to the umpire at the time, but scarcely had less effect. Indeed, whether or not he intended his remarks to carry, his shouting was such that the remark carried a considerable distance from within the pavilion. This had the effect, if anything, of amplifying the offence to the umpire as it was clearly in the nature of dissent, and abuse, and widely broadcast.

"Umpire Busby did not overplay this. His long experience and measured approach meant he did not emphasise any exception he took to the remark. Instead in a very professional manner he seemed first to have addressed whether he had got the decision wrong. But he was also surprised and shocked.

"It is very hard to understand why this conduct occurred, coming as it does after the very clear statements to cricketers throughout New Zealand prior to December 31, 2001. The players have been warned in no uncertain terms.

"I have no hesitation in holding that this conduct deserves a lengthy suspension, and in the ordinary course would see the player suspended for five matches or more, depending on whether there are one day or longer games. The impact of suspension may be felt more in the longer game, depending on the status of the matches contemplated. This is a matter of judgment in each case."

Davidson then discussed the merits of discussion about the prospect of representative selection opportunities or injuries coming into the term of suspension.

He then said: "Viewed simply against the breach, the penalty in my view was clearly inadequate.

"Without the matters raised by Mr Gallaway the player would be suspended from cricket and thus unavailable for selection for the Canterbury games scheduled for January 20, 22 and 25, and possibly his next club game on January 26.

"In line with previous decisions, I record that a player can draw on his good record and contrition, if there is some doubt about the length of suspension which should be imposed.

"In addition I consider some allowance should be made for the fact that he has been subjected to a process which is most unsatisfactory in its delay and the effect on him.

"In the result he is suspended from all cricket up and including January 22, which is less than the penalty which would otherwise apply."