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Sledgers to face match bans at World Cup

By Reuters

The International Cricket Council will crack down on excessive sledging between players at the World Cup, saying first offenders can expect heavier fines while repeat offenders face suspension from matches.

ICC chief executive David Richardson also said players with already poor records of on-field behaviour could face immediate match bans if found guilty of a single breach of the ICC's code of conduct during the Feb. 14 - March 29 tournament.

"That issue has been addressed at all the pre-event team briefings," Richardson told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday.

"I suppose it started a few months back already that the behaviour in some matches by some players was deemed to be unacceptable and not a good example to young fans watching the game.

"I think there's been something like 12-13 code of conduct charges laid in the last few months in bilateral series.

"So the crackdown had already started. I think the teams are going to be told that the umpires intend to remains firm, that the penalties handed out by the match referees will be perhaps a little bit more serious or higher than before but that hopefully everyone will be treated equally and fairly.

"For a first offence, you'll likely end up with a fine which no players likes, handing back most of his match fee.

"But certainly a repeat offence, not only in this tournament but some players already sitting with offences behind their name, will be punished with a suspension."

The crackdown may give Australia opening batsman David Warner some pause before charging into a verbal altercation given he has been found guilty of breaching the code of conduct twice in two months.

India batsmen Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli were also fined for conduct breaches in December during the occasionally ill-tempered test series with Australia.

Pundits have suggested a soccer-style yellow and red card system to better stamp out poor on-field behaviour but Richardson said cricket would continue to rely on post-match reviews with on-field umpires and off-field referees to analyse incidents and lay charges where necessary.

"That idea has been debated at a number of previous cricket committee meetings that I've attended and probably will be debated again," he said.

"We don't necessarily want to follow the way that football goes. A lot of these decisions are taken after a measured response by match officials reviewing footage of the match afterwards.

"That obviously cannot happen when you are brandishing a red or a yellow card on the spur of the moment."