LONDON: The World Cup promises to feature plenty of big-hitting and dramatic bowling but will there be verbal fireworks too? Not if the International Cricket Council can help it.
"Over the last six months, or even going back further to the last Ashes series, there have been too many examples of player behaviour going too far and overstepping the boundaries of acceptability," ICC chief executive David Richardson said.
"The amount of sledging (verbal abuse) and disrespect shown by players to each other was bad," the former South Africa wicketkeeper added as he promised match referees would come down hard on sledging at the World Cup.
Many of the best remembered 'sledges' have been relatively amusing.
For example, England fast bowler Greg Thomas once told West Indies great Vivian Richards "it's red, round and weighs about five ounces in case you were wondering" after beating the outside edge only for the 'Master Blaster', having smacked the next ball out of the ground, to reply: "You know what it looks like, you go fetch it".
However, there has been little humour in the obscene or crude taunts of recent times, with Australia captain Michael Clarke telling James Anderson to "get ready for a broken arm" when the England tailender was batting during the last Ashes series.
Fiery Australian opener David Warner was involved in several altercations during India's recent tour but coach Darren Lehmann said he was happy with the batsman's aggression.
"If the ICC decides we cross the line, then they'll come down on us -- we all know that," Lehmann said.
"We're always going to teeter pretty close to it -- that's the way that we play -- we've just got to make sure that we don't cross it."
With cricket unusual amongst many major team sports in that its leading teams come from a variety of cultural backgrounds --- European, Asian and Afro-Caribbean -- the problem is that where Australia draw the line may well be different from their opponents.