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New law will have cricketers seeing red for unruly behaviour

By David Clough

A red-card penalty is set to be introduced into the Laws of Cricket for the first time. The MCC will receive a recommendation from the World Cricket committee to give umpires the power to send off a player in the most extreme cases of on-field breaches of discipline.

The move, which will apply to all levels of competition from Test to village green, is expected to come into effect next October.

It was announced in a press release issued by the World Cricket committee yesterday following a meeting in Mumbai.

Committee chairman Mike Brearley, and colleagues including his fellow former Test captain Ricky Ponting, made it clear that the introduction of a red-card system for "threatening an umpire, physically assaulting another player, umpire, official or spectator, or any other act of violence on the field of play" is targeted at addressing increasingly poor standards of behaviour in recreational cricket rather than at the professional level.

It will, however, apply in all international and professional domestic matches. The committee statement explained the reasons for recommending the power to send a player off for the remaining duration of any match - be it 20 overs or five days.

It read: "The game must now include a mechanism to deal with the worst disciplinary offences during the match.

"If approved, the ability to send a player off would therefore come into effect at all levels of the game from October 1, 2017."

Other lesser punishments, such as run penalties or 'sin bins', were discussed but ruled out.

Brearley said: "This is to cover the most extreme cases of violence on the pitch. In a survey of umpires, 40 per cent of them said they'd considered giving up the game because of abuse. Umpires have to be respected and given the best possible chance."

Other topics covered included a reduction in the size of bat edges to 40mm to help prevent obvious mis-hits going for six, and that too will be recommended.

No consensus was reached on suggestions that Tests should be reduced from five to four days, but the committee did conclude that no change was needed on ball-tampering regulations.

The committee reaffirmed the belief that "cricket should embrace T20 at the Olympics" - with participation in 2024 still an objective - and voiced hope that International Cricket Council full member countries will pursue a conference-style World Test Championship, and agreed to recommend that catches should, in future, be permitted even if completed after the ball has struck a helmet.

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