Dermot Reeve has called on players to 'walk' in an attempt to improve the spirit of cricket. Warwickshire's former double championship winning captain was concerned at the demeanour of both teams in the recent Test series between India and Australia and believes the time has come for captains of international sides to come together and agree a code of conduct.
The International Cricket Council is discussing another trial of the referral system utilised in last season's Friends Provident Trophy. It could mean that teams in next summer's Test series between England and South Africa will have a limited number of opportunities to refer contentious decisions to the television umpire.
Yet Reeve, who has lived and coached in England, New Zealand and Australia, believes that more honesty from the players is the key to improving the spirit and the tattered reputation of the game.
"I don't think I've seen a game in the last 20 years that was played in the right spirit," Reeve wrote in his column in Spin magazine. "I know I didn't play in the right spirit and it's a cause of some regret. It's not that I regret things I said on the pitch only once did I lose my rag and say something I regret but I very rarely 'walked' and, in retrospect, I wish I had.
"We have all accepted the way the game was developing and concluded it was too hard to do anything about it. We are all responsible.
"We heard before the series that Australia and India were going to play 'tough' cricket but 'in the right spirit'. But that 'spirit' seemed to come and go. Ricky Ponting expects to be trusted by the umpires when he claims a catch but doesn't 'walk' when he edges the ball. How does that make sense? And, after surviving a huge edge, he had the gall to show his bat to the umpire when he was later given out leg-before.
"With such an inconsistent approach to honesty, how can the umpires trust the players?
"Part of me really feels for Ponting. He's simply a product of the Australian system in which he was brought up. Kids in Australia are coached to play 'tough' cricket. It is instilled into them at a young age that they should not 'walk' and you see young players caught at cover suggesting it was a bump ball.
"There's a 'win at all cost' mentality which, I believe, stems back to Ian Chappell's period as captain of the Australian team. Now there's a public backlash and people seem to be saying that it' time for a change.
"It all comes down to 'walking.' Let's be clear: if a player edges one and doesn't walk then they are cheating. And if they appeal when they know it's not out they're cheating too.
"If players are serious about improving the spirit of the game, they must 'walk'. I know that's easier said than done. I know that the line between success and failure can be very small.
"I understand that guys are playing for their spot in the side. They might also be playing for their jobs. It's no exaggeration to say their mortgages could be on the line.
"So what's the solution? I think the international captains should get together and agree that players will walk.
"They should agree that if the 'snickometer' shows that a batsman has edged one and not 'walked' then they will be fined or dropped. Bowlers are already fined for 'over-appealing' so why can't the same apply to batsmen?
"If all the captains agree and ensure that the policy is followed, we could clear up the game in months.
"Then that phrase 'spirit of cricket' could really mean something."