Quite unlike their footballing cousins, cricket players can?t put a foot even slightly out of place on the field without being charged for some or other indiscretion under a wide-ranging code of conduct.Surely, in modern sport (and indeed in society as a whole), this is an attribute worthy of high praise? Well, yes and no. While I?ll admit that the kind of behaviour now commonplace on the soccer pitch is not far off repulsive, cricket seems to have moved to the very opposite extreme. And quite frankly, that often makes for sterilised, boring viewing. Don?t get me wrong; there is no way I approve of the often childish antics so many professional footballers still display. But by the same token, there is no way completely disinfected cricket could be highly entertaining for the audience. Despite the English Premier League?s Referee Respect programme, the likes of Wayne Rooney and Ashley Cole continue to spew strings of polysyllabic expletives straight into the faces of unprotected referees, with little or no censure. Yet in cricket, a batsman who merely shakes his head (sometimes almost imperceptibly) after getting another roughie from the umpire is charged for dissent, fined and sometimes even banned! Never mind the fact that the ball was missing a second set! And if a bowler even points a finger to the pavilion, guiding the dismissed batsman back to his seat, he is hit with a Level 1 offence and a fine of up to half of his match fee. What?s so vile about a quick send-off? To me, that?s good TV! Even the odd chirp from close-in fielders and a bit of banter between batsman and bowler, once an accepted practice or even integral part of yesterday?s version of the gentleman?s game, is now swiftly stifled by umpires. The men in the white coats step in, often for fear of colourful language being broadcast to millions of unsullied young ears the world over, and slap proverbial straight-jackets on the ?offenders?. Indeed, even in the local game, any sort of niggle is punished faster than you can say ?mental disintegration?. HD Ackerman and Vernon Philander were both banned for two first-class games in late October after getting into a heated discussion (and this was off the field!) about the day?s play. With South Africa?s series Down Under looming large, and the Australians the once-masters of sledging, viewers will do well to spot a handful of on-field ?incidents? between opposition players. And I?m firmly of the belief that the series will be worse off for it. The modern game needs the odd spot of hostility, but the few fire-in-the-belly type players that remain are having their muzzles continually tightened. While racism and hate speech are quite simply not acceptable in sledging, harmless oral and physical expressions should be allowed, in order to spice up the game. Simply put, a balance has to be found. Somewhere between the almost obsessive-compulsive ?hygiene? of cricket and the on-field anarchy that is football, lies the perfect blend of combativeness and family entertainment. Unnecessarily exaggerated laws are suffocating the sport. And to me, that?s just not cricket.