Red cards in Cricket


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Red cards are set to be introduced into cricket for the first time later this year.

The MCC are to trial new on-field sanctions which include penalty runs and removal of players from the field to stop the decline of poor player behaviour.

The new rule will apply to all, from grassroots to international level and are expected to come into effect this October.

Firstly, at International level red cards are unnecessary. It is putting into place a stipulation that more players, captains will push the boundaries of. It’s pointless. There has been unsportsmanlike conduct such as the infamous incident during the 1981 Perth Test involving Dennis Lillee and Javed Miandad a prime example but cricket has always been a game for ‘gentlemen’ and feisty encounters between players has seen some epic matches.

For a more recent conduct you would have to look at Ricky Ponting and how he was arguing animatedly during the 4th Test in 2010 with umpire Aleem Dar.


Furthermore, red cards in cricket could be to stop the curb of aggression as the umpires do not have any authority to stop it on the field other than telling them to pipe it down pretty much. Red cards should be considered so that there will be a perimeter that players cannot cross. Nobody could think him/her to be superior or inferior than others. It will encourage fair sportsmanship during matches from the top to the bottom.

The rule for the red-card system is “threatening an umpire, physically, assaulting another player, umpire, official or spectator, or any other act of violence on the field of play.” Would therefore the Kieron Pollard and Mitchell Starc incident see them both get red cards if this rule was already in place? Click the link below if you would like to recollect.


It is understood that the ruling is being put into place after concerns in club cricket. Mike Brearley, who chaired the committee meeting stated that in a “survey of umpires, 40% said they’d considered giving up because of abuse and that the behaviour had gotten worse in club cricket.” Umpires are those in a position of power and have got to be respected. Five games in 2016 had to be abandoned after violence broke out during games.

By looking at when footballers run and crowd the referee when a decision goes against them. The MCC are looking to keep the culture of cricket alive.

There will no yellow cards or sin-bins for verbal abuse and dissent, as they continue to explore other endeavours best to implement cautions.  Crackdowns have been set in place for such actions with The worst recent incident of violence happening in Bermuda, where a batsman was given a life ban after a horrific attack on a fellow player that was captured on film and published on the internet.

Finally, for umpires it is more power to tackle the problem on the pitch rather than the retrospective action they currently do. But the bigger, more concerning issue would be the boundaries the players can push if this rule comes into effect.



MCC’s guidelines to Umpires for trial sanctions

Level 4 offences:

(a) threatening an umpire or referee;

(b) physical assault of another player, umpire, referee, official or spectator;

(c) any act of violence on the field of play;

(d) using language or gesture that seriously offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates, threatens, disparages or vilifies another person based on that person’s race, religion or belief, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation or background.

Suggested sanctions:

  • Player is sent off the field for the remainder of the match.  If he refuses to go, the captain will be warned that it would constitute a refusal to play.
  • Additional 5 run penalty and report.
  • If it is a batsman who committed the offence, he is Retired out; and if 9 wickets are down, his team are all out.
  • Umpires instruct captain to remove player, or vice-captain/senior player if it is the captain who is the offender.

NB If the captain is already suspended, then his nominated deputy on the field is to be used.

Level 3 offences:

(a) intimidating an umpire or referee;

(b) threatening to assault another player, team official or spectator;

(c)using language or gesture that offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates, threatens, disparages or vilifies another person on the basis of that person’s race, religion or belief, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation or background;

(d) deliberately bowling a high full pitched ball which is deemed dangerous and unfair as defined in Law 42.6(b).

Suggested sanctions:

  • Player is sent off for 10 overs of playing time or 20% of that innings’ overs, whichever is fewer.
  • Any unexpired penance time is carried forward to next innings.
  • Additional 5 run penalty and report.
  • If a fielder, he can bowl immediately upon his return.
  • If a batsman, he is Retired not out, and if 9 wickets are down his team is all out. He may return at the fall of the next wicket after his suspension has been fully served or if one of the current batsmen is Retired out.
  • Umpires instruct captain to remove player, or vice-captain/senior player if captain is the offender.

Level 2 offences:

(a) showing serious dissent at an umpire’s decision by word or action;

(b) inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between players during play;

(c) deliberate distraction or obstruction of another player on the field of play, regardless as to whether such conduct is deemed unfair under Law 42.5;

(d) throwing the ball at or near a player, umpire or official in an inappropriate and dangerous manner;

(e) using language or gesture that is obscene or of a serious insulting nature to another player, umpire, referee, team official or spectator;

(f) causing avoidable damage to the pitch that results in a 5-run penalty being awarded under Laws 42.13 and/or 42.14.

Suggested sanctions:

  • This process would be wholly umpire led.
  • The umpires must agree, and report all incidents in the post-match report.
  • Immediate 5 penalty runs on first and all subsequent occasions.

Level 1

(a) time wasting by either the fielding side or the batting side which results in a 5-run penalty or the bowler being disallowed from bowling any further in that innings.

(b) abuse of cricket ground, equipment or fixtures/fittings;

(c) showing dissent at an umpire’s decision by word or action;

(d) using language that is obscene, offensive or insulting and/or making an obscene gesture;

(e) excessive appealing;

(f) charging or advancing towards an umpire in an aggressive manner when appealing.

Suggested sanctions:

  • This process would be wholly umpire led.
  • The umpires must agree, and report all incidents in the post-match report.
  • First and final warning to Captain, which applies to all members of that team throughout the match.
  • 5 penalty runs on all subsequent occasions.

Options to be offered to participating leagues, schools or universities.

  1. The full package as defined above.
  2. Levels 1, 2 & 3 as above, with Level 4 punished as Level 3, but reported as Level 4 (i.e. no sending off)
  3. Levels 1, 2 & 4 as above, with Level 3 punished as Level 2, but reported as level 3 (i.e. no temporary suspension)
  4. Levels 1 & 2 as above, with Levels 3 & 4 punished as Level 2, but reported as Level 3 & 4 (i.e. penalty runs only)
  5. As for D except that a first and final warning given for Level 2, which effectively means that all offences are treated initially with a warning.



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