ICC bans sledging, asks officials to support move

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Sydney, Mar 25: After India's ill-tempered tour of Australia this month, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has finally banned sledging and has sent a letter to officials, captains and chiefs calling for support of the decision.

The ICC said there will still be a room for occasional light hearted remarks but the use of harsh-swear words will be strictly prohibited.''This is specifically directed at preventing offensive language directed at another person, be it a fellow player, official or spectator,'' said the letter, signed by ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed and cricket operations manager David Richardson.''You will appreciate this is not an easy issue. International cricket is played and followed by people from a wide range of cultures. What is offensive to some may not be considered so by others,'' the statement said.

However, it still remains to be defined that what will be considered as offensive and what not. The ICC said it will be at umpires' discretion and they will the offense and its degree.

''It is impossible to define which words or combination of words will be regarded as offensive and there will always be a need to take into account the context in which the words are used and for the umpire to apply a degree of individual interpretation and judgment.

''We are, however, asking you, as players, to raise the bar and to set and respect new standards. Players are asked to show a greater level of respect to their opponents, umpires and referees and to recognise that swearing is regarded by the majority of people as obscene, offensive or insulting,'' the ICC said.

The cricket's governing body also accepted that recent incidents have proved to be a catalyst for such a decision taken by it.

''We acknowledge that every incident is highlighted and sensationalised in the media, often with very little objectivity, but . . . there have been several controversial incidents on the field which originated from the use by players of language or gestures which are considered obscene, offensive or insulting.

''The ICC acknowledges verbal exchanges cannot be eliminated entirely, so umpires have to decide what they feel are acceptable levels,'' it added.

Meanwhile, the decision has not been welcomed by all as former fast bowler Rodney Hogg criticised the move.

''It will be very hard to police,'' Hogg said adding, ''the game's in a bit of trouble. They have become too officious. I am glad I retired when I did.''

UNI

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