Dubai: Tampering with the ball could now lead to a ban of up to six Tests or 12 ODIs after the International Cricket Council (ICC) made it a level 3 transgression besides adding obscenity and personal abuse to the list of offences in a bid to ensure better behaviour on the field.
At the end of its annual conference in Dublin, the world body came up with its plan to curb unruly behaviour on the field that has been under the scanner for a while now in the 'gentlemen's game'.
Upgrading ball-tampering from a level 2 to a level 3 offence has come in the wake of the row earlier this year when Australian cricketers Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were found guilty of changing the condition of the ball during the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
"I and my fellow Board directors were unanimous in supporting the recommendations of the Cricket Committee and Chief Executives' Committee to drive improved behaviour across our sport," ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar said.
"It is vital that there is a strong deterrent to both players and administrators to ensure we have high standards of conduct in our game," he added.
Under the existing Code of Conduct back in March, the ICC had fined Smith for one Test and that had led to calls for a tougher punishment.
"I'd like to thank the Cricket Committee and the Chief Executives for their commitment to improving player behaviour in the game and supporting the introduction of new offences and greater sanctions," said ICC chief executive Dave Richardson after the five-day meet.
"There is a clear desire here to reclaim cricket's unique proposition as a game that people can trust in and for us all to live the spirit of cricket in a way that is relevant in the 21st century," said the South African.
Even last month, Sri Lankan skipper Dinesh Chandimal copped a one-Test suspension for ball-tampering during the second Test against the West Indies in St. Lucia.
The Australian cricketers including captain Smith did not receive severe punishments form the ICC but Cricket Australia stepped in to slap a one-year ban on Smith and Warner following the incident that rocked the entire country. Bancroft was handed a nine-month suspension.
The ICC Board also recommended the introduction of offences covering personal abuse (Level 2, 3), audible obscenity (Level 1) and disobeying umpire's instructions (Level 1).
"Attempting to gain and unfair advantage (cheating, other than ball-tampering) will now be considered a Level 2 or 3 offence," said the ICC in a statement.
"Players or support staff wanting to appeal a decision will now be required to lodge an appeal fee in advance which will be fully refundable if the appeal is successful. Stump microphone guidelines will also be changed to allow the stump microphone audio to be broadcast at any time, including when the ball is dead," it added.
Now, even the concerned member board could be held liable for its players' behaviour.
"The Board also agreed to consider how Member Boards can be held liable for its players' behaviour with appropriate sanctions to be imposed on boards when the accumulated number of offences by its players exceed certain thresholds."
The ICC Board also agreed on measures to enable Zimbabwe Cricket to stabilise its business and allow cricket to flourish in the country.
The ICC management will work with Zimbabwe Cricket to develop a plan for managing its cricketing, management and financial structures which will be reviewed regularly.
Besides, the ICC agreed to allow a representative of the Sri Lankan Sports Minister to sit as an observer to its Board and Full Council. The ICC requested that elections for Sri Lanka Cricket are held within six months, failing which SLC's Membership status would be considered.