ALLEGED abuse and intimidation, coupled with the continual questioning of umpiring decisions and a sharp decline in player behaviour, has led to the Southern Premier League imposing tougher sanctions on players and clubs who step out of line.

Disturbed at the deteriorating behaviour that is increasingly undermining the game’s image, the league is set to impose far stiffer penalties on players – and their clubs – who are found guilty of misconduct.

Incidents of poor player behaviour in recent weeks have included send-offs, dissent against umpires’ decisions and unsatisfactory conduct by supporters.

A fortnight ago, the ethics and spirit of the cricket played in the league was called into question when a batsman was dismissed in a Mankad style run-out (with no prior warning given) in a Premier Division match.

Five umpires from the South Coast Panel, who supply qualified officials each week, have either quit or are planning to at the end of the season due to ongoing disciplinary problems in the local Saturday afternoon recreational game.

Emphasising its growing concern over dissent and the conduct of players, the SPL told its 34 member clubs this week to expect draconian action on proven player disciplinary cases.

Starting from Saturday’s round of matches, the Premier League plans to double up on the length of player suspensions, impose monetary fines and deduct points from clubs whose players get into trouble.

Captains also stand to be disciplined if they fail to control their players.

A penalty of five points will be imposed on teams for each ban imposed.

League chairman Steve Vear reports that Law 42 (relating to on-field behaviour), which took effect globally on October 1 last year, will now be fully applied giving umpires more scope to control on-field incidents.

This could lead to red and yellow cards being dished out by umpires to players who fail to behave on or off the field during the game.

In an attempt to defuse problems on the field, the SPL is insisting on team captains – and vice-captains – meeting with the umpires at the toss.

They also recommend a further post-match get-together to review all aspects of the game after stumps have been drawn.

“There is scope for all aspects of the game to be discussed but, specifically, incidents, no matter how small, can be discussed with a view to preventing in the future or to establish decisions made by the umpires,” said Vear.

Such procedures have been in place for many years in Australian Grade cricket where debriefings are seen as a way of developing relationships between players and umpires.

“The Spirit of Cricket is precious to our sport and so intrinsically linked with good behaviour – the turn of phrase, ‘that’s just not cricket’ is not an accident.

“We must protect that spirit and protect our league,” added Vear.