Nagraj Gollapudi is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
Get ready to be transported closer to the on-field drama this World Cup. The ICC says it is considering replicating the experiment by broadcasters in Australia this year, where there was no commentary for a whole over as viewers were instead given a live and uninterrupted feed of the on-field chat via the stump mic.
Steve Elworthy, the World Cup tournament director, told ESPNcricinfo that he was in favour of having the stump mics turned on at all times. The most important factor for the game's administrators to keep in mind, he added, was that fans want to "get closer to their heroes".
"From a fan engagement point of view, being able to do this for fans and spectators who are coming to the game or are watching on TV, these things need to be discussed, and need to be addressed," Elworthy said.
"People want to get close to their heroes. They want to understand what goes on in the heat of the battle. But you've also got to understand there are sensitivities around these things. So it is a fine balancing act. But I would genuinely like to see that accessibility granted. I'd like to see it when players do get closer to the fans, [so] fans and spectators can witness what actually goes on the field."
The debate as to whether stump mics should be kept on at all times, including when the ball is dead, re-emerged recently after West Indies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel and Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed were, in separate incidents, each handed four-match bans by the ICC for their offensive remarks during live play.
Although both players pleaded guilty, critics questioned the merit of the decision that the ICC took at the last year's annual conference, where it was decided to keep the stump mic on "at any time, including when the ball is dead".
That decision was implemented in a bid to counter a perceived increase in player misbehaviour and the use of abusive language, but it attracted a mixed reaction. Some players, such as England allrounder Moeen Ali, believe the stump mics should be turned up at all times, whereas England's head coach, Trevor Bayliss, was not in favour.
Meanwhile, FICA, the international players' body, has called for a protocol to govern the use of stump-mic audio, with Tony Irish, FICA's executive chairman, saying that players fear the "potential for selective use" by host broadcasters.
Dave Richardson, the ICC's chief executive, sympathised with Irish's concern.
"What [ICC] will do, certainly from a disciplinary policing point of view, we will make sure that we will apply [stump mics] consistently," Richardson told ESPNcricinfo. "So, although the broadcaster might decide not to broadcast to the public because he might feel that sometimes the comments on the field can be pretty banal and irritating, I suppose to the viewers, as long as that audio is still available to the match officials to use if necessary."
According to Richardson, the stump mic was a useful ally for the match officials to nip any offensive language or behaviour on the field in the bud.
"Anything that can help them police the game consistently will help," he said. "It becomes difficult when things get said on the field, it is not picked up by the on-field umpires, and they don't take any action. There could be swearing or abusive language going on which is not punished. The audio from the stump mic will allow us to be more consistent in how that particular type of behaviour is policed.
"As to the players maybe getting upset, that's silly. If you don't want to be heard by anybody saying something that you shouldn't be saying, well, then don't say it. You shouldn't hide behind the fact that it might be picked up or it might not be."
Richardson also recounted the two main reasons why the ICC's members last year gave approval to record the audio from stump mics at all times.
"No. 1, it does bring fans closer to the game, it allows you as a viewer watching on television sets to feel part of the action," he said. "And let's face it, we need to find ways of providing broadcasts which are more interesting, more innovative, and brings fans closer the game.
"The second part was to help us police abusive language, behaviour that is not wanted in any form of cricket. The excuse, 'well, we couldn't charge anybody because no one picked it up or no one heard it', stump mics will help us police the game in that regard."