The issuing of red cards for bad conduct in top level cricket is on its way.

There's a recommendation going to the International Cricket Council from its influential cricket committee, proposing it be introduced to dismiss miscreants from the field.

Don't get too wound up about it, though. Most likely it will only apply to physical clashes, and let's face it there aren't many of them these days.

So, for example, the ugliness in the India-Australia test in Bangalore in March was undoubtedly a blight on the game, shamefully (mis)handled by match referee Chris Broad, but was all verbal nastiness.


The red will more likely, and more readily, be seen in lower levels of cricket where the use of stumps, bats and occasionally fists are known to be raised.

It's main purpose may be providing a deterrent for umpires - "steady on son, or we'll have you" - to players they deem to be approaching boiling point.

A few years ago, however, it would have been as common as the waving of yellow or red cards in the Super Rugby competition.

Go way back to Perth in 1981 when Dennis Lillee and Javed Miandad, two of the game's greats, took a dislike to each other in the middle.

Lillee kicked out at Miandad's legs; the Pakistani legend, no shrinking violet, responded by waving his bat in a threatening manner as the umpire tried to intervene. Do it after this rule is passed and it would have been out with the red.

Lancaster Park, 1980, and West Indian fast bowler Colin Croft, shoulder charging umpire Fred Goodall would surely have seen red, too. By that stage of the test, the West Indies had already threatened to walk out, bitter at what they perceived as umpiring injustices (it wasn't flash to be fair, but rules are rules).

They were 10 minutes late re-emerging for the final session on one day, and the word was they'd all packed their kit bags ready to depart the next day.

Remember the 1997 Sahara Cup in Toronto? India v Pakistan? Didn't think so, but you might recall it better as: Inzamam-ul-Haq, fat potato.

The portly Pakistani was so enraged by a spectator baiting him with a megaphone, describing him as a "fat aloo", and suggested his stomach contained too many potatoes, that he charged into the crowd waving a bat with which to dispense summary justice.

Or come forward to 2010 in Napier, when Australian quick Mitchell Johnson and New Zealand batsman Scott Styris came nose to helmet grill.

Styris was pulling New Zealand towards a notable victory. There were words and Johnson shoved his face into Styris' helmet.

Johnson copped a 60 per cent match fee fine and charged with "inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between players in the course of play".

Styris got away with a 15 per cent fine, but was deemed to have contributed to the verbal exchange which preceded the physical contact.

He also had the last laugh, smearing Johnson into the stand at long off to win the game with four balls to spare.

"It was just a bit of friendly banter," Styris said afterwards. "There wasn't anything untowards out there."

One man's banter is another's angry physical exchange.

Red card? Should be if it happened once the cards are introduced.

One point though: if this does get the ICC seal of approval later this year, it should come with a rider: forget the identities of players involved in any clashes. Too often it has seemed the bigger the name the softer the treatment.

You might also argue with some conviction it's a gimmick, and would not be needed if umpires possessed a strong collective spine, and will, to pull players into line.

The fact that it is on the way gives an answer to that.