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Clubs act to prevent 2013 repeat

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Bad behaviour will not be tolerated at Cup Match this year and a match referee has been appointed to enforce a Code of Conduct adopted by the two clubs with the assistance of the Bermuda Cricket Board.

Both Cup Match clubs are determined to stamp out bad behaviour by both players and team officials and over the past few months have been putting together a final draft on the Code, which will be in effect at Somerset Cricket Club over the next two days.

The match referee, Roger Dill, Bermuda's most senior umpire, will have the power to deduct up to 25 percent of a player's match fees for a Level 1 offence and between 15 and 50 percent for a Level 2 offence. Level 3 offences will carry a deduction of between 30 and 80 percent of match fees, while the more serious Level 4 offence could bring a minimum fine of 90 percent of match fees and a suspension from Cup Match ranging from one match to a lifetime ban.

Alfred Maybury, the Somerset president, welcomes the initiative in which players may be sanctioned also for wearing inappropriate clothing or wearing their clothing in an inappropriate manner — a Level 1 offence.

Use of foul or abusive language that is obscene or insulting, excessive appealing, pointing or gesturing towards the pavilion by a bowler or other team member upon the dismissal of a batsman will also not be tolerated, along with showing dissent to an umpire's decision, public criticism of a match official and inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between opposing players during the match.

Cup Match's reputation is at stake, Maybury insists, especially with the match being streamed live around the world. “We have what appears to be undisciplined behaviour and the community and sponsors feel that the organisations have done nothing, so Somerset and St George's have worked together to make sure that we put some things in place and every player knows that it won't be tolerated,” Maybury said.

“Not only is it an embarrassment to the clubs, but an embarrassment to the community. We're streaming this game live worldwide and part of the purpose of streaming it worldwide is that we want more people to come to Bermuda.

“If we're going to put ourselves out on the world stage, we need to up the ante on the discipline and everything that is involved with the game. We put the Code in place so that everybody has the understanding that we're serious and we want Cup Match to grow to be much more. Both Somerset and St George's sat down and decided this is how we needed to go.”

The touchpaper for this action was lit by last year's match at Wellington Oval where St George's batsman Treadwell Gibbons Jr hotly disputed an umpiring decision after being given out.

The unsightly scenes and the length of time it took for the incident to be addressed — Gibbons was eventually given a two-year suspended ban from Cup Match — brought widespread condemnation amid calls for more discipline among the players in Bermuda's most popular sporting event.

Gibbons's ban comes into effect only if he misbehaves in his next two Cup Match appearances, but St George's effectively blacklisted him for 2014 after he fell foul of football's lawmakers and was suspended for five years.

“In our very first meeting, we discussed about having a match referee put in place and we did seek some assistance from the board,” Maybury said. “It's cricket and the best place to go is to the board to at least get some information.”

Neil Speight, the BCB chief executive said: “The Board had concerns and the clubs had concerns, too, and we've been working behind the scenes with the clubs, talking about what can be done. By adopting international standards for a game that is streamed live around the globe, it can only enhance the product.

“For the whole integrity of Cup Match in Bermuda, you want to know that it is going to be a top-class game. I said to the clubs that I would help them in terms of drafting a code specific to Cup Match. The board has a Code of Conduct, which applies to its cricket and the ICC has a Code of Conduct, but Cup Match is a one-off event.”

In addition, a minimum over-rate of 15 overs per hour will be strictly enforced, with captains responsible for that and ensuring that there is no time-wasting by the batting side. There are financial sanctions if found guilty, with violations to be dealt with quickly.

Jekon Edness, the Somerset captain, believes the changes are timely. “I will worry about it more now because they are starting to deduct match fees and making us 100 percent accountable for our players' actions,” he said. “It is something that will be monitored over the two days.

“It is a step in the right direction, stamping out the bad behaviour. What they are also saying is blatant time-wasting will not be tolerated — taking your time setting the field, calling for water every so often or changing your gloves.”

This should not happen again: the Code of Conduct was brought into effect for this year to ensure that the Gibbons affair, from when he lost control on the field on the second day in 2013 to myriad lesser offences, can be dealt with immediately
Chris Douglas, the Somerset opening batsman, seen here as non-striker during the Eastern Counties first round, would fall foul of the Code of Conduct should his attire dip to these shocking standards again

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Published July 30, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated July 31, 2014 at 2:57 pm)

Clubs act to prevent 2013 repeat

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