New Delhi: India's recent acrimonious tour of Australia has prompted the International Cricket Council to send a note to captains of all international teams and ICC Full Members asking them to curb sledging.
Stressing on the need to shun "obscene, offensive or insulting language", the note signed by ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed and General Manager Dave Richardson pointed how it has become important to address the issue of sledging in the wake of India's ill-tempered series Down Under.
"Recent events and, in particular, the series between Australia and India have highlighted the issue of 'sledging'. We seek your support in learning lessons from these issues and moving forward in a positive way," the note read.
Confirming receiving the note, a BCCI source said, "The ICC has written a letter to all the 10 Test captains and CEOs of the 10 Full Member boards, besides 7 Match Referees and nine Elite Panel umpires."
"Copies have also been sent to some other people and the letter stresses that it is necessary to adhere to the spirit of the game. It says the captain, as well as the team, should be responsible to ensure that the game is played in the true spirit and curbing sledging is the responsibility of the captain," the Board official told PTI.
The letter pointed out that several controversial incidents stemmed from use of language or gestures "which are considered obscene, offensive or insulting."
India's tour of Australia reached the boiling point in the Sydney Test where Harbhajan Singh was accused of racially abusing Andrew Symonds, an issue that snowballed into a huge crisis and India threatened to pull out of the series.
Harbhajan said he did retaliate after being provoked by the Australian all-rounder but denied racism charges. Subsequently ICC Appeals Commissioner too exonerated the Indian spinner from racism charges.
BCCI has already proposed a ban on sledging and the issue came up for discussion during last month's ICC executive committee meeting in Kuala Lumpur.
The ICC note also urged players to show more respect to fellow players, umpires and referees.
"Players are asked to take their responsibility as role models seriously and to make an effort to improve their behaviour in this regard. Captains are requested to lead by example and to ensure that they keep tight control over the behaviour of their players," it said.
"There is no question that international cricket must be played with intensity and with no quarter asked nor given but within the bounds of mutual respect and the spirit of the game," the note added.
Admitting that it was difficult to define what actually amounts to sledging, the governing body has asked the umpires to use their "individual interpretation and judgments" to determine if any player had overstepped the line.