Cameron Bancroft, Steven Smith, ICC, ball tampering
Cameron Bancroft and Steven Smith Getty images

In the wake of a recent ball tampering scandal that marred four-match Test series between Australia and South Africa, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has said there will be stricter and heavier sanctions on infringements like ball tampering and sledging.

The decision came following its week-long meeting, which concluded in Kolkata earlier today.

Recently, former Australian skipper Steven Smith and vice-captain David Warner were handed one-match ban while bowler Cameron Bancroft was given nine-month suspension for their involvement in ball-tampering scandal that took place on the third day of the third Test against South Africa.

The ICC Code of Conduct review was discussed throughout the week, with both the ICC Board and Member Chief Executives united in their commitment to address player behaviour.

There was clear direction from both to move towards stricter and heavier sanctions for ball tampering and other offences which were indicative of a lack of respect, this would include abusive language, send-offs and dissent to an umpire’s decision. In parallel with that, the creation of a culture of respect that embodies the spirit of cricket on and off the field of play.

Reflecting on the same, ICC chairman Shashank Manohar said, “The Code of Conduct review is a crucial piece of work and my fellow Board directors and I are committed to seeing an improvement in player behavior and ensuring a culture of respect across our sport. We will consider tougher sanctions as we work to create a culture of respect.”

Meanwhile, the ICC also gave the green light to all T20 matches between its members being awarded international status along with plans to introduce global rankings in the format.

The move across both men’s and women’s cricket, is part of the wider strategic aim of using the T20 format to globalize the game. New minimum standards will be introduced making it as easy as possible for Members to play international cricket in a sustainable and affordable way.

All member women’s teams will be awarded T20I status on July 1, whilst all member men’s teams will be awarded T20I status on January 1, 2019 following the cut-off point for qualification to the ICC World T20 2020. Rankings for women and men will be introduced in October 2018 and May 2019 respectively.

ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said, “We are particularly pleased with the unanimous agreement to award all T20 bilateral games international status and the move to create a global ranking system for T20Is. We are committed to growing the game and T20 is the vehicle through which we’ll do this and removing restrictions and having all Members ranked is a positive step forward.

“We have already introduced a regional qualification pathway for the ICC World T20 in 2020 which is now underway and we will continue to evolve our qualification structures across all three formats to enable Members to play regular cricket and grow the game.”

The ICC Members have also signed off a new Future Tours Programme (FTP) for 2019-2023 that incorporates the introduction of a World Test Championship and an additional ICC World T20 event in place of the Champions Trophy in 2021. This provides opportunities for 16 teams to compete at a global level with a sub-regional, regional and global qualification process every two years, giving more regular cricket to more Members.

“I would like to commend our Members on reaching agreement on the FTP which means the ICC World Test Championship and ODI league are now cemented into the calendar. Extending international status for all T20 bilateral games and creating a global rankings table is a positive step forward in growing cricket around the world using the shortest format of our game,” Manohar said.

Meanwhile, Richardson said, “This set of meetings has seen some significant decisions made for the long term good of the game. Signing off the FTP has been the result of unwavering commitment from all Members to get to this point and we look forward to the commencement of both the new ICC World Test Championship and ODI League in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

The Board received a presentation around regulations and sanctioning of events including domestic T20 leagues and player release. There has been a sharp increase in the number of T20 leagues seeking Member and ICC approval and the associated ongoing challenge to ensure the best players are playing international cricket.

It was widely agreed that domestic T20 leagues were good for the global game but steps need to be taken to ensure international cricket remained attractive to players. As such, the Board approved the establishment of a small working group to consider the issues and make some recommendations for consideration later in the year.

The world’s cricket governing body also agreed the process by which the ICC Chairman will be elected for the next two years from June when current chairman Shashank Manohar’s first two-year term expires.