James Foster, the Essex captain, has been banned for two matches after a spate of disciplinary problems at the county, who have also been fined £5000 by the ECB.

The ECB have a system of penalty points in place when a player breaks the code, but the Cricket Discipline Commission Panel criticised Essex for failing to take quick enough action following reports by umpires of misconduct over the last year and found Essex guilty on "five or more separate occasions of fixed-penalty offences in a 12-month period."

"We are disappointed that Essex had taken no prompt action," a statement said. "No management policy to safeguard against potential future incidents is in place."

They were especially critical of Foster's role in failing to curb the problems. The most recent incident of the ECB imposing penalty points on an Essex player was against Foster for serious dissent in the Friends Life t20 match against Surrey on June 13.

"The regulations make it absolutely clear that the captain is responsible for discipline on the field and ensuring no repetition occurs," the statement continued. "We have taken into account the penalty imposed by Essex on the captain for his misconduct but in our view the captain's responsibilities are great and we conclude that taking all the mitigation into account the correct penalty is an immediate two-match suspension."

Essex have accepted the punishments handed down but believe actions put in place by the club have not been taken into account by the panel.

"We are however disappointed that the actions taken by the club following umpires' reports on misconduct of players have been ignored by the disciplinary committee," the club said. "We should like to clarify that we do take any breaches of discipline very seriously and have an internal process to deal with them. If a transgression is reported to us we investigate the circumstances of the offence and if considered appropriate we take robust action against the offending player.

"The captain and the players have all been reminded that while we recognise the need to play with passion and intensity they have a responsibility to uphold the traditions of the game and operate within the regulations and in the spirit of cricket."

"The club has every confidence in James and his abilities as captain," they added. "In his long career he has had an unblemished disciplinary record with the ECB, and both James and the club now wish to draw a line under these unfortunate incidents."

Essex have to make a further £300 contribution towards the costs of the hearing and Foster will miss the Friends Life t20 fixtures against Hampshire and Glamorgan. With Essex currently fourth in the South Group and battling for a quarter-final spot his absence comes at a vital time for the club.