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|May 6, 1999||
Captains told to behave or elseThe Rediff team
THE World Cup organisers, and the International Cricket Council, summoned the captains of the 12 teams participating in the World Cup, and laid down the law as far as the code of conduct governing the tournament is concerned.
Tournament director Michael Browning and ICC chief executive David Richards chaired the meeting at the new media centre at Lords', together with Dough Insole.
The meeting, surprisingly free of the squabbles that were anticipated given the fierce rivalries that have sprung up between various sides in the last couple of years, was meant to warn the captains that they were expected to observe the spirit of the game at all times, and take responsibility for the behaviour of their players.
Ruled out are displays of dissent, blatant sledging and other unseemly behaviour of the kind that, to cite one instance, marred the recent series between Australia and the West Indies. Captains in particular were warned against the kind of behaviour practised by Arjuna Ranatunga when Muthiah Muralitharan was no-balled for chucking during Sri Lanka's last tour of Australia -- the Lankan captain on that occasion had taken his team off the field, and later engaged in a public slanging match with the umpire, on the field of play, going so far as to poke him on his chest.
Prior to the meeting, two captains had already locked horns -- Alec Stewart of England, and Arjuna Ranatunga of Sri Lanka. Stewart has a reputation of being quite pro-active on the field -- his "Let's get this ******** out of here, then" aimed at Hashan Tillekeratne during Lanka's last tour of England being just one instance in point -- and as a result, Ranatunga has been calling for the stump mikes to be left on at all times. Stewart for his part has indicated that he thinks the stump mike should be on only during the time between delivery of the ball, and its address by the batsman.
The ICC has decided that the stump mikes will be switched off as soon as the batsman has played the ball -- thus, strategic comments from behind the stumps or the slips area, or even from the bowler following through too far after delivery, won't make it to the television viewer's ears.
However, umpires -- who were briefed on the day after the captains' meet -- have been told to deal with such instances of needless chatter with a heavy hand, which should dampen some of the freer spirits of the game. And if Glenn McGrath feels the need to expectorate, he will have to take care to turn his face well away from the opposition, or find himself docked a game or three.
Interestingly, the tournament organisers have also come down against the practise of strategic substitutions, where a batsman is replaced by a superior fielder. The umpires have been instructed to take a hard stand on such strategic "injuries".
The tournament organisers also assured the captains that all stops are being pulled out to ensure the safety of the teams.
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