Sarwan, McGrath incident sparks player’s code
October 26, 2003
The public outcry that followed the ugly bust-up between fast bowler Glenn McGrath and West Indies vice-captain Ramnaresh Sarwan in the Antigua Test earlier this year, has prompted a new Australian player’s code.
The players and Cricket Australia released a players’ code earlier this month that recognises that the extremes of sledging are not in the spirit of the game and would not continue to be a part of the Aussies’ play.
The code commits the players not to “condone or engage in sledging or any other conduct that constitutes personal abuse”. Penalties apply for excessive appealing, dissent and bad language.
Assault and vilification, either racial or religious, are considered the most serious offences and can attract a life ban.
“Criticism of Australian cricket has been justified,” Cricket Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland said.
“Over the past 12 months we’ve had some incidents that have caused significant harm to the game that’s not able to be measured. If we’re going to be true to the spirit of the game and true to our strategy, then we have to do something about it.”
Scores of enraged cricket fans rang Cricket Australia following the confrontation between McGrath and Sarwan to complain that the behaviour of the Australian team had become absolutely disgusting.
With the help of a change management specialist that works with the Victoria police, members of the Baggy Green squad, and a young receptionist at Cricket Australia that had been bombarded with the angry phone calls, the new player’s code has finally been instituted.
Sutherland also used a very persuasive method to hammer the point home to the players. A month after the incident in the Caribbean, he introduced the young receptionist to the team after a montage of the media coverage of the incident was played to them.
The young woman told her story of how she felt when she heard of the incident, what it was like to take all the abusive calls, and that on days when she woke to the news that there had been another sledging controversy she dreaded having to go to work.
Cricket Australia is so serious about the new code that they have informed the International Cricket Council about their zero tolerance for this kind of unacceptable behaviour and have recommended that umpires take a firm stance.