ICC wants tougher ball-tampering sanctions and opts against scrapping toss

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Smith breaks down in news conference

The International Cricket Council has recommended increased punishments for ball-tampering and decided against scrapping the toss in Test cricket.

It follows the Australia ball-tampering scandal against South Africa in March.

Ex-captain Steve Smith and former vice-captain David Warner were banned for a year by Cricket Australia, with Cameron Bancroft suspended for nine months.

Under current rules, the maximum ICC sanction for ball-tampering is a 100% match-fee fine and a one-Test ban.

The ICC imposed the maximum sanction on Smith, while Bancroft was fined 75% of his match fee and given three demerit points, but Warner was not punished by world cricket's governing body.

A new offence for personal abuse has also been recommended by the ICC cricket committee following a two-day meeting in Mumbai.

"The group felt that excessive personal abuse and ball-tampering were serious offences in the game and that should be reflected in the way in which they are dealt with," said committee chairman and former India spinner Anil Kumble.

Warner and South Africa wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock were charged and fined by the ICC for an altercation in the first Test of a fractious four-match series.

Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada was also initially banned for the last two Tests after being deemed to have deliberately made contact with Smith during the second Test but he successfully appealed against the sanction.

Such incidents could fall under the committee's suggested new offence for "personal, insulting, offensive or orchestrated abuse". It also recommended creating a 'code of respect' for all players.

It added it wanted to give "greater authority and support to match officials", including allowing match referees to "downgrade or upgrade a level of offence or sanction".

The toss stays

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson tosses the coin in front of England captain Joe Root
Every match since the beginning of Test cricket in 1877 has started with the coin toss

The committee opted against automatically awarding the toss to the visiting team as it said the traditional pre-match coin toss was an "integral part" of the sport that also "forms part of the narrative of the game".

The proposal to scrap the toss, which was backed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), was part of a consideration of ways to reduce home advantage.

However, the committee urged home boards to focus on producing pitches that "provide a better balance between bat and ball".

It said the preparation of pitches that do not provide that balance could pose a "risk to the competitiveness" of the new World Test Championship, which starts with next summer's Ashes series between England and Australia.

The new competition will see nine teams play six series of Test matches over a two-year period - three at home and three away - before the two teams with the most points contest the final in England in June 2021.

The points system was also discussed in Mumbai, with the proposal that points will only be awarded for each match and not a series win to ensure every Test counted.

A draw will see each side awarded a third of the yet-to-be determined points total for a win.

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