Sergio Aguero, one of the best strikers in football today, was handed an immediate red card after he purposely tackled Chelsea’s David Luiz violently during Manchester City’s recent loss against Chelsea. Aguero was also handed a 5-match ban. Countless other sports like hockey, badminton, volleyball, rugby and athletics have stringent methods of dealing with misconduct or violence of any kind on the field.
What about cricket? Players are mainly fined an insignificant amount of their match fee and banned for a match at best, while the match during which the misdeeds are carried is totally ignored. The recent brawl in a domestic cricket match in Bermuda where the wicketkeeper resorted to violent means may be an anomaly, but there are various other instances of misbehavior among players and umpires was recorded.
Ben Stokes recently had an argument with Indian captain Virat Kohli, while the Anderson-Jadeja incident is still fresh in our minds. The Australian cricketers tend to go overboard with their sledging on regular occasions who can forget the Monkey Gate and Josh Hazlewood saying, “who the f**k is the third umpire”.
At a recent MCC meeting, perhaps this issue as discussed at large, with the members contemplating an introduction to “penalty cards” in cricket too. These would give umpires the power to send players off the field for grievous disciplinary violations. The MCC world cricket committee has recently 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.
The committee further went on to state that cricket was the only sport in which there is “no in-match punishment”. Rightly so too, as the players are reprimanded after a match ends, the one who creates nuisance during a game might easily go on to win the match for his side. Incidents such as the under-arm bowling incident could also be avoided.
Billy Bowden, albeit jokingly, also showed Glen McCgrath the red card in an attempt to discourage his from under arm bowling. That certain gesture had worked too. If the MCC does decide to work on this problem, the forms of penalty or penalty cards may be valid from as early as October 2017. This would mean that cricketers would have to be on their toes and keep their behavior in check especially while fielding. Unlike football, where a sending off still maintains some level of competition, cricket would be virtually impossible for a team with a batsman or bowler short against a full strength opposition.
Having stated that, it is unfair for the opposition to bear the brunt of a player who has not adhered to the spirit of the game. Virat Kohli ended up making 248 runs in the secondTest against England, clearly being the difference between the two sides, despite discipline problems, especially with Ben Stokes.
Very recently Stokes was also in the headlines for refusing to shake hands with Bangladeshi players during the ODIs and yet played a defining role in England’s first Test win. These may be recent examples but what about the Ashes sledging incident of 2013 (James Anderson vs Michael Clarke), or the Harbhajan- Sreesanth controversy in the IPL 2008?
The introduction of cards may perhaps decrease the role of troublemakers in a certain match- for example, restrict the number of overs a bowler is allowed to bowl or settle the batting position for a key batsman. Whatever be the impact, this move by the MCC will have strong ramifications and will alter the way this game is played.
What is your opinion? Should MCC go ahead with the move? Should red cards/yellow cards or other forms of punishment be given a go ahead? Vote and let us know in the comment section below.