Alastair Cook has warned cricket’s lawmakers not to become “too PC” following reports that the game is about to experiment with sin-bins to counter bad behaviour. England’s Test captain also said he thought the professional game had become “a lot quieter” in recent years because of stump mics and an increase in TV cameras.
“We’ve got to be careful,” Cook said. “Cricket needs characters, like Ben Stokes getting fired up after an 11-over spell in the heat and [at] altitude with no wicket. Then [Temba] Bavuma inside-edged him past the stumps. He showed emotion. But I’d be worried if we take all that out of it, which is the danger. It’s important we don’t go OTT on that.”
The MCC is set to launch a trial with club, university and schools cricket in 2017 to eradicate a perceived increase in excessive sledging and violent behaviour. The guardian of the laws of the global game would like to see the introduction of yellow and red cards as cricket looks to football and rugby to solve its disciplinary problems. Five matches in England at the lower levels last year were abandoned because of violence. Under the new proposals, a player could spend 10 overs in the sin-bin for threatening and intimidating behaviour, or for bowling a beamer. A player could be banned for the rest of the game if he threatens an umpire or assaults another player or official.
If the experiment is judged a success it could be introduced to the professional game. Fraser Stewart, the MCC’s head of laws, said: “We know anecdotally that player behaviour seems to be on the wane in cricket, certainly in this country.”
But Cook, speaking at a charity event for Chance to Shine, countered that the professional game had become “a lot quieter” because of the increased scrutiny caused by on-field microphones and more camera angles. “The players have a responsibility 100% to make sure the game is played the right way,” he said. “There’s a line which can’t be crossed.” But he added: “It almost inflames a situation when, if a bowler says something to a batsman, the umpire gets involved straightaway. It makes the situation a lot worse.
“In general, we’ve got to be careful. Some of the great stories come from sledging. Allan Donald, was he sledging, no, but he was really fired up, when [Mark] Boucher dropped that catch [off Michael Atherton]. He screamed at the top of his voice. I’m sure it wasn’t particularly pleasant what he screamed, but it added to the drama and the theatre of that iconic moment, which people now love, him saying a few words to Athers, and Athers staring straight back at him.
“I was chatting to fans in South Africa and they enjoyed watching sides go at each other.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010