Players fear ‘selective use’ of stump mic: FICA head

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The head of FICA, the international cricketers’ association, says that a protocol for the use of stump microphones must be introduced to avoid the “selective use” of incriminating audio by broadcasters.
Tony Irish’s comments come after the West Indies fast bowler, Shannon Gabriel, and the Pakistan captain, Sarfaraz Ahmed, were both handed four-match bans by the ICC after being overheard making derogatory comments in separate on-field incidents.
On Wednesday, Gabriel admitted to making homophobic comments in an altercation with the England captain, Joe Root, during last week’s third Test in St Lucia, while Sarfaraz was caught making a racist comment to the South Africa allrounder Andile Phehlukwayo during an ODI in Durban in January.
The incidents are the first to cause controversy since the decision was taken, at the ICC annual conference in July, to broadcast stump microphone audio “at any time, including when the ball is dead”. That move came as part of the ICC’s drive to fight player misbehaviour, with new offences introduced such as personal abuse and audible obscenity.
The ICC also factored in fan engagement as a big part of live sport, and the fact that cricket needs to embrace that. During the discussions involving the ICC and the various member boards’ chief executives, it was agreed that turning up the stump mic turns the focus not just on spirit of the game, but also allows for greater engagement for the fan watching at home. It brings them into the middle with the players.*
While Irish, the executive chairman of FICA, believes that players will be willing to buy into the usage of stump mic audio, he says it is vital that broadcasters are consistent and universal in how they apply the technology.
“The issue to be discussed is how they are used, including when they are turned up and when they are turned down,” Irish told ESPNcricinfo.
“What I can say is that, when it comes to a matter such as this, players are generally in favour of consistency, which suggests to me that a protocol on how they are used is necessary.”