Rahul Dravid, the former India captain, feels that contrary to popular perception, the on-field behaviour of cricketers has improved in recent years. Dravid said a negative view had come about due to the increased reportage of on-field incidents involving players.
"Players' behaviour has not deteriorated, but improved over the years. It is only because of the media scrutiny that the feeling is that cricketers are breaking the limits," Dravid said at a summit organised by the Hindustan Times. "In the '60s and '70s players used to involve in such chit-chats but the media would not focus on that. But now at the end of the day when you go to press conference you are even asked about small things like what two players were talking in the field ... which is often blown out of proportion."
Dravid did not agree with the notion that sledging was against "the spirit of the game", while Michael Vaughan, the former England captain, said he "did not mind it as long as it was in the spirit of the game, which was hard spirit".
Dravid also shrugged off suggestions that rules on sledging were suited to non-Asian cultures. "If you live in India you deal with it [swear words] all the time. We have it all the time in our dressing rooms," he said. "Moreover there cannot be rules about confrontations."
The media scrutiny has increased on cricketers, but Dravid felt it was perhaps a necessary evil. "We must realise that we cannot do away with it. The media has grown ten-fold since my days as a youngster. The media is having so much interest in the game, you begin to appreciate that because it's necessary not only for the sport but also to market the players. So everything has a flip side.
"It is impossible to live in the society and not get affected by it [media]. But I am sure when you look back at certain decisions, you feel in the hindsight you feel you have taken some decisions under pressure".
Dravid said senior players and cricket boards had a responsibility to guide juniors. "There is a role for senior players to educate the youngsters, especially when you see there is so many attractions for cricketers," he said. "Agents are good if you have the right agent at the right time; it gives you peace of mind. But the boys at the age of 14-15 cannot take right decisions, so for them it's needed to be monitored and regulated by the board.
"For instance, in England, if you are to be a football agent you have got to have a certificate from the federation, since you are dealing with young boys and girls and sometimes their families are also not in a position to take right decisions."