Club cricketers could be sent off in new trial to combat violence

Billy Bowden
Umpires at the lower levels of cricket will trial sendings-off for violent behaviour

Cricketers could face punishments similar to yellow and red cards in new plans by the game's law-makers the MCC.

Umpires will not have cards but will be able to dismiss players or send them to a sin-bin in trials that will begin at club, school and university levels.

"We hear that few people want to become umpires and that some stop because they're not liking the environment," said MCC head of laws Fraser Stewart.

Five club matches were abandoned in the UK last year because of violence.

The England and Wales Cricket Board's code of conduct has four levels of severity of offences.

As part of the trial, players could be sent off for the most serious incidents such as threatening an umpire or referee, physical assault, or any other act of violence.

For a level-three offence, such as threatening and intimidating behaviour, or bowling a deliberate beamer at a batsman's head, proposed sanctions include 10 overs in a sin-bin.

Those involved in the trial will decide on a tier system for less serious sportsmanship issues, such as questioning an umpire's decision.

Stewart told BBC Radio 5 live there had been a minority of games with serious incidents, but added he had seen an increase in the number of matches abandoned because of violence on the pitch.

"We didn't want to put our heads in the sand and think that nothing was happening so we thought we would come up with a trial to see whether anything could be done," he said.

"It's a matter of working out where the line is drawn and if a batsman hits a bowler of the head with his bat then I don't think it's too bad to say that that person shouldn't be taking any further part in the match."

'That's my mum you're talking to'

Last July, the Pembrokeshire Division Two derby between Saundersfoot and Kilgetty was abandoned when a senior player punched a 16-year-old in the face.

Ali Parkinson, whose son was playing, told BBC Radio 5 live: "It was one of the most awful things I've witnessed ever in cricket."

She said she and other onlookers attempted to calm the situation but were verbally abused, before her son shouted: "That's my mum you're talking to."

Asked about the MCC trial, she added: "They need to change the culture completely in the game and I think they need to look at the behaviour and start modelling what they expect behaviour to be like.

"I think there's a place for banter but if that moves into really poor language then it's pretty easy to work out what is acceptable versus what is unacceptable.

"Sin-bins and sending-offs are really unfortunate but it's a sign of the times and it's used well in rugby so it should be used in cricket."