MARTYN MOXON believes cricketers should be banned if they go over-the-top with personal abuse on the field and feels umpires are too weak in clamping down on trouble-makers.
Yorkshire’s director of cricket said the broad practice of “sledging” – directing remarks at batsmen in order to break their concentration – is part and parcel of the game and has been for years.
But as England and Australia prepared to resume hostilities – both verbal and cricketing – in the early hours of the morning in Sydney at the start of the Carlton Mid Tri-Series, Moxon said tougher action was needed to eradicate abuse that goes above and beyond. “When it becomes personal it’s gone too far,” said Moxon. “Once you get comments about breaking people’s arms, or it becomes personal abuse, that’s where it goes over the line.
“Ideally, you don’t want to be banning people, but if the behaviour gets unacceptable then they have to be banned. It’s the only way you’re going to stop it.”
Moxon believes it is up to players to take responsibility for their own actions under the auspices of captains, but feels limp umpiring exacerbates a problem highlighted this week by the BBC’s Jonathan Agnew, who said there had been no sign of more respectful relations between opponents in the wake of the death of Phillip Hughes.
“The players have a responsibility, clearly, and the captains, but I also think the umpires need to be stronger,” said Moxon. “If somebody starts abusing somebody or speaking personally to them, then the umpires have to step in and say, ‘Enough’s enough. Stop it. Cut it out. End of.’ But they don’t. They let it carry on and fester until it becomes a major incident.
“The idea of sledging is to try to put people off their game and mental disintegration, as it’s called, is something that’s always been in the game and is part and parcel of any professional sport, because if there’s a weakness there professional sports people are going to exploit it. But there’s a difference between that and personal abuse.”
Moxon, the former Yorkshire and England opening batsman, said he copped the odd comment over the years but nothing too persistent. “The main one was Paul Allott,” he recalled. “He was the worst one I played against for verbal abuse, and I copped a little bit from Merv Hughes.
“Other than that, it wasn’t too bad. The best bowlers just got you out and a little look, rather than a load of swearing and abuse, says it all.”