MCC proposes radical player send-off law
Several changes to the game have been suggested by the MCC world cricket committee to restore the balance between bat and ball
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Giving umpires the power to send players off the field for grievous disciplinary violations, limiting the maximum width of the edge and depth of a bat and allowing catches off a fielder's helmet were among the significant outcomes of the MCC world cricket committee meeting in Mumbai on December 6 and 7.
The committee also said it wouldn't recommend a change to the existing ball-tampering law, which was brought under scrutiny after South Africa captain Faf du Plessis was found guilty of tampering - he was caught on camera allegedly shining the ball with saliva while having a lozenge in his mouth. Du Plessis has since appealed the verdict.
All the recommendations will need to be approved by the main MCC committee.
The MCC world cricket committee recommended that umpires be empowered "to eject cricketers from a game for serious disciplinary breaches" such as threatening an umpire, physically assaulting another player, umpire, official or spectator, and any other act of violence on the field.
"If approved, the ability to send a player off would therefore come into effect at all levels of the game from October 1, 2017," the committee said. "Cricket is one of the only sports in which there is no 'in-match' punishment for poor behaviour. A captain may ask his player to leave the field but the umpires have no such jurisdiction. Taking an extreme example, a batsman could wilfully hit a member of the fielding side with their bat, before carrying on to score a century to win the match for their team. Cricket therefore needs a punishment which will have an impact on the perpetrator and his or her team during that particular match."
Bat edges and depth
The width of the edge of the bat could be restricted to a maximum of 40mm, and the depth to a maximum of 67mm from October 1, 2017, if the committee's recommendations are approved.
"Whilst not wishing to turn the clocks back too far, the committee, together with the Club's Cricket committee - which met last week at Lord's - wants to draw a line in the sand and target mis-hits that are clearing the boundary ropes for six," the committee said. "Many of the top players' bats have edges of between 38mm and 42mm, but there are some which have edges of up to 50mm, which was felt to be excessive and in need of restriction."
Dismissals when the ball has touched a fielder's helmet
Under the existing law, catches and stumpings are not permitted if the ball touches any part of the helmet worn by a fielder or wicketkeeper. In recent times, Moeen Ali and Tom Latham were reprieved as close-in fielders caught the ball but couldn't prevent it from making contact with their helmets. Such decisions will go in the bowler's favour if the main MCC committee passes this recommendation.
"This change for the caught Law would include a ball becoming lodged or trapped in the grille of a fielder's helmet, in the same way as it is caught if it gets trapped between the wicket-keeper's pads or in a fielder's sweater or pocket."
Ricky Ponting believed it was time to bring some consistency with regards catches off protective equipment as more boards are now making helmets mandatory for men round the bat. "Wicketkeepers wear pads on the outside of their legs, which is an optional form of protection. We felt that it was not really different from a close-in fielder wearing a helmet. A lot of the associations are now making it compulsory for the close-in fielders to wear helmets. Just to keep in line with other protective equipment on other fielders on the ground, we felt that was the right way to go."
Olympics "an opportunity not to be missed"
The committee continued its push for cricket to be included in the Olympics and continued to have their eye on the 2024 event for which the bidders are Budapest, Los Angeles and Paris. Rome, who went on-record with their support for cricket, had been another city set for a bid but pulled out in October. One of the major stumbling blocks to cricket reaching the Games would be the loss of revenue if it replaced an ICC event.
"We would like ICC to do as much as they can," Mike Brearley said. "They have been talking to the IOC. There is another meeting planned in January, I believe. It was pointed out to us that there is, on the other side of the balance, the possibility of having a second World T20 every two years. There would be a loss of revenue if instead of that there were the Olympics. So you have to weigh out the spread of the game, with China etc, the amount of money that will come through Olympics and from governments and sponsors against that possible loss. It is not that clear-cut thing but we are consistently in favour of the ICC doing as much as they can."
John Stephenson added: "We have always been very clear as a committee to keep hammering the point that cricket should pursue an Olympic status. We feel that it is the best channel for globalising the sport. 2024 is an opportunity not to be missed but there are tight deadlines. The ECB and Cricket Australia are very keen on it. We just need all the member countries, as a sport, to get behind the Olympic movement."