Paul Nixon on why red cards will be the big game-changer...

The Cricket Paper - - FRONT PAGE - PAUL NIXON

The MCC met in Mum­bai this week and in­tro­duced a new set of laws that will be in­tro­duced to the game from Oc­to­ber next year. The main one, that seems to have got ev­ery­one talk­ing, is that of send­ings off. Um­pires at all lev­els of the game will be given the power to eject play­ers from a match for se­ri­ous dis­ci­plinary breaches.

Play­ers would be ejected for three things: threat­en­ing an um­pire; phys­i­cally as­sault­ing another player, um­pire, of­fi­cial or spec­ta­tor; any other act of vi­o­lence on the field of play.

I feel it’s the start of some­thing much big­ger. Fair play to the MCC for bring­ing it in, but we have to un­der­stand that this is more for the grass­roots level of the game.

It’s im­por­tant to have it at all lev­els of cricket though be­cause it vi­brates down. The in­ter­na­tional play­ers are the club guys’ role mod­els and the rules need to be the same, no mat­ter where you play.

The rules mainly ap­ply to phys­i­cal al­ter­ca­tions, and you don’t want to see that in any sport, or any­where else, for that mat­ter. But, as I say, there will be more to come.

There are too many bowlers who ap­peal for longer than nec­es­sary, and who ap­peal and keep run­ning down the wicket. I don’t like that. But that would be too harsh to send a guy off.

There’s no doubt in my mind that there will be more to come, with per­haps the in­tro­duc­tion of yel­low cards to fol­low once we’ve seen what im­pact red cards have on the game.

Every­body wants con­sis­tency with the rules, but it’s al­ways go­ing to be down to the um­pires’ dis­cre­tion. It’s the same with foot­ball.We of­ten see a tackle be­ing shown a yel­low card by one ref­eree, and a sim­i­lar tackle in another game, with a dif­fer­ent ref­eree, re­ceiv­ing no pun­ish­ment.

But play­ers know dif­fer­ent um­pires and they know who they can push and who they can’t. The um­pires are the same for both sides, but of course there are go­ing to be vari­a­tions be­tween peo­ple.

You can train um­pires as much as you like, but there’s noth­ing we can do about that. It’s the same with lbw de­ci­sions. Some give them, some don’t. It’s the na­ture of the game.

Fair play to the MCC for bring­ing in red cards, but we have to un­der­stand this is for the grass­roots level of the game

It’s def­i­nitely the right move though. Any­thing that helps to take vi­o­lence – which we rarely see any­way – out of the game is a good thing. You’ve still got to have a com­pet­i­tive na­ture and guys go­ing head-to-head in battle, but it’s mak­ing sure the line is not crossed.

Red cards aren’t the only new law to be men­tioned, with bat sizes and bat edges set to be re­stricted too. Lance Arm­strong al­ways said it’s not about the bike (in­sert joke here) and I’m a big be­liever that play­ers are get­ting phys­i­cally stronger with bet­ter hit­ting tech­niques.

You could give some of these play­ers the dead­est bat go­ing and they would still hit the ball miles; I’m talk­ing about the likes of Chris Gayle and An­dre Rus­sell.You still have to be strong enough to pick it up and wield it at pace – that’s a skill in it­self.

I like tech­nol­ogy be­ing im­proved and if bat man­u­fac­tur­ers have the ca­pa­bil­ity to do what they want then I see no is­sue. Spec­ta­tors want to see the ball fly­ing out the ground!

You’re off! But red cards could set a deanger­ous prece­dent

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