ESCA Statement on Conduct

We are nearing the business end of a season where a lot of cricket has been played due to the good weather. This has meant, unfortunately, that the Competitions Committee, Disciplinary panel and ESCA in general have also had to deal with more than its fair share of disciplinary issues and complaints.

It is increasingly concerning to read fair play commentary, official and unofficial complaints and having general discussion with players and officials about poor conduct of teams and players. There has been an increasing discontent with the attitude some players show to not just player umpires and opposition players, but also neutral umpires. Dissention at decisions, poor sportsmanship in not walking, gamesmanship over laws (wides, lbws, late calll of no balls, etc), over the top celebrations, send offs, both unnecessary passive and outward aggression, abusive language and in some instances, threatening behaviour – the list is sadly only a flavour.  It appears that a ‘win at all cost’ mentality and lack of respect has spread like a virus through some teams, particularly in the higher leagues, and Laws 41 and 42 are ignored or paid lip service.

To illustrate this in part, without breaching any ongoing cases, the table below aims to highlight the concerns.

League Fairplay Ave Fairplay Low Number of 1s & 2s Number of 5s
Championship 3.34 2.50 14 3
1 3.15 2.40 15 1
2 3.11 2.33 18 5
3 3.28 2.45 16 3
4 3.33 2.67 12 3
5 3.45 2.67 10 5
6 3.52 3.11 5 4
7 3.66 3.10 7 10
Sunday Development 4.00 3.50 0 3

As can be seen, the higher the league, the poorer the average fair play score. There is a probable correlation with the fact that the lower leagues focus more on participation, but these games will still be competitive. It should not be beyond the bounds of possibility for ‘more competitive’ games to be played in a good spirit; some teams do manage this. It does also highlight, positively, that it certainly isn’t every club.

It is not lost on us that, along with speeding up the game, the survey undertaken last year highlighted that people were put off playing by conduct of opposition players. The numbers do not lie. If player conduct does not improve, we run the risk of losing further existing players from the game, losing the interest of juniors coming into the game or, worse still, letting poor behaviours become the norm.

We must be better than this.

Some teams need a reappraisal of their attitude to playing what is an amateur game in the East of Scotland. Some teams also need to recognise that sometime, amateur players and umpires do just simply get it wrong and active retribution is also not acceptable. On the other hand specifically manipulating decisions as part of a ‘win at all cost’ mentality is not acceptable and the responsibility for instilling the correct attitude on and off the pitch much sit with the captains and office bearers of each club.

We are now in a position that ESCA need to take positive steps to, if not eradicate, certainly reduce the number of instances of poor sportsmanship. ESCA have made a number of statements around this in the last few years and noted last year that we would use the fair play scores to speak to clubs and captains where consistently low scores were observed. Not only will we be doing this, but we fully intend to reprimand repeat offenders in the only way that they seem to understand – implementation of points reductions for the team and suspensions for captains and individual players.

There are currently ten teams who have scored less than 2.75 in the fair play this year (compared with four last year). There are four teams that have had three or more 1s scored. We will be shortly writing to clubs and captains of these teams with the aim of highlighting the issues and hoping to see a significant improvement in attitude in the 5 weeks left of the 2018 season. If there fails to be the necessary improvement, ESCA will invite the Captains to a meeting to discuss the conduct and any sanctions deemed necessary to reinforce the seriousness of the situation, which may include points deductions and suspension of players and/or captains.

Please do not take this lightly. We need to work together to make cricket more enjoyable for all and maintain respect for those we play against as much as we do for those we play alongside. You have been warned.