Don’t be surprised if you see Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds being far more respectful to each other during the forthcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) than they were in Australia.
Bhajji and Symmo haven’t struck up a sudden friendship. But they will have no choice but to behave because the BCCI has taken the business of sledging to heart. It has invoked the Spirit of Cricket for the IPL.
The Spirit of Cricket is the doctrine enshrined by Sir Colin Cowdrey and Lord Ted Dexter, ex-England skippers and MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) members, in the 1990s in the laws of the game.
The Indian cricket board, campaigning for the eradication of sledging and abusive player behaviour, will ask the players to take a spoken oath that will bind them to playing by the spirit of the game and not just its laws.
“We are the first to adopt the Spirit of Cricket. And to ensure players abide by it, the captains of all eight teams in the IPL will take a pledge to play by the spirit of the game before the tournament gets rolling,” said IS Bindra, a member of the IPL governing council.
While the Indian board initiated a peace measure, its Australian counterpart said it was against a “total ban” on sledging.
“Cricket Australia’s (CA) position is that the ICC code of conduct already covers this issue,” a CA spokesman was quoted as saying in The Herald Sun, an Australian newspaper. “A total ban on sledging had not been supported.”
Former Australian captain Mark Taylor is also against the idea of a blanket ban. Instead, he suggested a football-style yellow card system to deal with offenders.
The BCCI has taken the lead in adopting the Spirit of Cricket and I hope it is adopted globally with time. In fact, it would be one of my objectives as Principal Advisor to the ICC," added Bindra. There was also some development on another storm brewing in cricket, Sunil Gavaskar vs the ICC. On Wednesday, the former India captain met Malcolm Speed, the ICC Chief Executive, in Dubai.
The two conferred to discuss the conflict of interest created by Gavaskar's column-writing and his serving as the chairman of the ICC's Cricket Committee. The batting legend is often critical of the apex body in his writings.