The Herald has learned that the West of Scotland Association of Cricket Officials [WOSACO] have become concerned about recent incidents of serious dissent during Scottish club matches and are determined to try to stamp out expletive-laden abuse of umpires and officials by players. They believe the present situation where offenders are dealt with retrospectively - or not at all - sends out all the wrong signals.
Richard Young, the chairman of the management committee of the Western Union, cited several recent cases of players swearing at officials in the Greater Glasgow area as a compelling reason to toughen up the existing regulations.
"We should never forget there wouldn't be a game without umpires and we are discussing how best we can tackle the problem of officials being abused," he said. "If somebody does it and they are warned and persist in doing it, the umpires would simply say: 'Right, you are being penalised five runs.' And if they did it again, then it would be 10 or 15 or 20. Teams would soon wise up if they had to chase 200 instead of 180 because one or two of their guys had broken the rules.
"Another idea, if players offend, is for them to be handed a yellow card for a fixed period. If they come back on and repeat what they've done, then it would be a red card and they would be off for the rest of the game.
"We are talking here about club cricket, and, of course, passions can become heated in these matches. But this is quite simple: we have the spirit of cricket. Let's observe it."
Young has raised the issue with his fellow WOSACO members and has gained the support of officials in other parts of Scotland. The aim is not to prevent players from flinging themselves into the fray, but to prevent the sort of ugly altercations and instances of bad sportsmanship which have marred several contests in the last few years.
"There is a difference between being competitive and being a foul-mouthed yob and some people have crossed the line too regularly," said Young. "I have no doubt that we could sort out these problems quickly if we took the appropriate action. All we want is for people to remember the umpires are doing the best they can. If you think it is okay to approach them and call them 'F***ing cheats', you are not helping anybody."
WOSACO will meet again to discuss the issues at the end of September.