"Players have to be much more aware going ahead and just hoping that the guidelines are very similar from now on" - Kohli on the Jadeja ban. © AFP

“Players have to be much more aware going ahead and just hoping that the guidelines are very similar from now on” – Kohli on the Jadeja ban. © AFP

For a captain to lose one of his more influential players for any match, even a dead rubber, is not the best of positions to be in. When that player rules himself out of contention due to an obvious and unchallenged breach of the ICC’s Code of Conduct, then it is an even more bitter pill to swallow.

Ravindra Jadeja, and India, had no cause for complaint after Test cricket’s No. 1 bowler and allrounder was slapped with a penalty of three demerit points and a fine of 50% of his match fee by Richie Richardson, the match referee, for a dangerous throw that missed Dimuth Karunaratne narrowly on day three of the SSC Test. This censure, coupled with a like punishment last October during the Indore Test against New Zealand, pushed Jadeja beyond the first threshold of four demerit points, which automatically entails a one-Test suspension.

These penalties are a result of tweaks to the Code of Conduct introduced in September 2016, which means they have been in effect for more than 11 months now and therefore ought to have been understood and digested by team managements. The interpretation of offences continues to lie in the hands of the match officials, but once they make that call, there is little scope for ambiguity because everything is laid out in black and white.

Virat Kohli had no issues with Jadeja’s suspension – he didn’t say it in as many words but he didn’t need to after India accepted Richardson’s verdict without appeal – but made a roundabout call for consistency when it came to such decisions. As he held forth on the need of balancing aggression with not crossing the line of acceptable behaviour, the Indian captain said on Friday (August 11), “Firstly, we need to be very clear on what are the things that fall into it and what are the things that a player needs to keep in his mind while being on the field. A lot of things happen on the field which in the thick of things or heat of the moment you end up doing, but you don’t know what’s going to cause you one or two or three points.

“The intent counts nowadays and that’s something that players need to keep in mind. It might be a very small thing but if the intent is to do something bad, then obviously that is something that counts against the player.

Because it shouldn’t vary according to how the situation is looked at. If it is consistent, then I think it is going to be good going ahead because players will obviously be more aware of how they need to conduct themselves on the field and it will only help the game get better.”