Are our first-class cricketers behaving badly or have our umpires become less tolerant?
That was the question cricket bosses were trying to answer yesterday as they surveyed a less-than-perfect start to the cricket season.
Barely three weeks into the season and already five players have been cited by the umpires for on-field breaches, three more than the entire count in 2011-12.
On the mat have been Jesse Ryder ($750 for foul language) and Mathew Sinclair ($200 for dissent), while Luke Woodcock was exonerated for dissent after Friday's HRV Cup between Wellington and Auckland.
Two further players have been cited, but under New Zealand Cricket's judicial system their names are not made public - or their supposed crimes - unless found guilty.
New Zealand Cricket's operations manager, Lindsay Crocker, is stumped by the high number of code-of-conduct charges.
He said umpires had not been issued with a directive to turn our leading cricketers into choirboys.
"Five is an unusually high number to have, given we are only into the first few weeks," Crocker said.
"I'm talking with the CPA [New Zealand Cricket Players' Association] to see how we can manage that number down.
"They have all been low level [offences] but we'd rather there were none."
NZCPA chief executive Heath Mills resisted pointing the finger at either his charges or the umpires after yesterday's meeting in Christchurch.
He feels there is confusion on both sides as to the application of the law.
Mills says it is hard for players to know where they stand when they see Australian fast bowlers James Pattinson and Peter Siddle sledging South Africans Graeme Smith and Hasham Amla, respectively, in Brisbane last week and getting away with it.
"Seeing that sort of thing is confusing for our players," Mills said. "If the players behave like pork chops, then they deserve everything they get, but at the moment the application of the code might be a bit inconsistent.
"I have sympathy for the umpires too, because they do a helluva good job."
Mills is calling for "everyone to go away and look at the code".
"Five [citings] already and we've not hit December, that is a bit of a concern for all of us," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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