The Asian Age
Coughing up a fee
Some renowned Indian etiquette experts wonder why the red-card system shouldn’t be introduced to offenders in cricket
The Football Association (FA) in England, where football is a very popular game, recently announced that coughing deliberately while playing football will fall under the category of “abusive language” offenses.
Under the new COVID-19 guidelines, players who deliberately cough at opponents or referees can now be shown red or yellow cards, although the FA further announced that referees ‘should not be looking to punish players for “routine” coughing’.
Taking cue from the FA announcement, Suneeta Sodhi Kanga, an etiquette expert and trainer, wonders why the rules must not be adopted by the cricketing boards across the world.
“Cricket has been called a gentleman’s game for centuries, with players expected to keep up their manners on and off the field. Most cricket clubs have many rules listed about the dos and don’ts pertaining to the game,” says Suneeta while speaking with us over telephone.
Traditionally, cricket has been a low-contact sport, especially when compared with a sport such as football. So instances of deliberate coughing, which one might sometimes see as a way of show aggression towards another player, may not occur in cricket.”
— Sonia Dubey Diwan
The etiquette expert also believes that a lot about etiquette and manners is about how a sportsperson behaves towards others.
“On the field, it could mean respecting the umpires and their decisions and countering those you disagree with, whether the umpire or other players, in a cultured and polite manner, without losing your cool. Cricketers are stars for the masses and how they behave not only display your culture and gentlemanliness but also leave an impression in the fans’ minds about what is acceptable and not. So also, I think there should be strong rules against players using abusive language, spitting or coughing at someone or even gesturing in a threatening manner. I believe an umpire needs to decide what is not gentlemanly,” she adds.
ETIQUETTE FOR A NON-CONTACT SPORT
Konkana Bakshi, another etiquette expert, believes the use of offensive language especially in the heat of the moment, should also be discouraged enough so it is avoided.
“Youngsters look up at cricketers as a beacon of hope. So also, insulting body languages, mimicking to mock another, etc. do not speak well of the players,” Konkana says.
However, Sonia Dubey Diwan, founder and managing partner of Indian School of Image Management, has a slightly different perspective to the issuance of guidelines such as those by England’s FA.
“For one, I believe cricket etiquette revolves around the aspect of upholding the respect and fairness of the game,” says Sonia. “That being said, traditionally, cricket has been a low-contact sport, especially when compared with a sport such as football. So instances of deliberate coughing, which one might sometimes see as a way of show aggression towards another player, may not occur in cricket.”
Given the COVID-19 scenario, however, Sonia admits that even in cricket, an additional focus needs to be placed on the etiquette and hygiene of players and team members, both on and off the field. The tradition of shaking hands of all team members at the end of a game is a well-established etiquette in cricket, which is also considered a gesture of good sportsmanship spirit. But now with COVID-19 this tradition will need to be modified, as needed, keeping in mind social distancing and safety protocols. In fact, I expect many changes in the etiquette and hygiene practices in the game of cricket.”