London (AFP) - The International Cricket Council will review its punishment for ball-tampering in light of the Australia cheating scandal, and warned the game is in danger unless decisive action is taken.
Cricket Australia has banned captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner from international and domestic cricket for a year while opening batsman Cameron Bancroft was exiled for nine months over the incident during the third Test in South Africa.
Under its current code of conduct, the ICC was unable to impose more than a full-match fine and a one-Test ban on Smith, unlike the more stringent penalty since levied by Cricket Australia.
"We've come to realise that the world -- not only Australia -- regards ball-tampering in a very serious light. It goes to the spirit of the game," said chief executive David Richardson.
"I must admit this has been an eye-opener for me personally. We need to look at the penalty imposed, specific to ball-tampering.
"Around the world, ball-tampering is considered cheating... I think we need to look at it again, and this is what has prompted this review."
The ICC review will look into player behaviour, the spirit in which the game is played and the code of conduct.
Richardson said the exercise, likely to be informed by respected former players such as Australia's Allan Border, Indian Anil Kumble, Shaun Pollock of South Africa and West Indies' Courtney Walsh, would be an opportunity to "draw a line in the sand" and address fans' concerns.
"The reaction all around the world shows us that if we neglect the way the game is played, cricket is itself in danger," he said.
"We are going to ignore (that) at our peril... we don't want to leave this lingering, and hope it will all go away."
Richardson, a former South African wicketkeeper, said cricket had been blighted by bad behaviour in recent weeks including ugly incidents of sledging, dissent against umpires' decisions and now the ball-tampering episode.
"This has been perhaps one of the worst periods in recent memory for consistently poor player behaviour and the global outcry in relation to the ball tampering is a clear message to cricket: enough is enough," he wrote in a blog post on the ICC website.
"The spirit of cricket is precious to our sport and so intrinsically linked with good behaviour," he added. "The turn of phrase 'that's just not cricket' is not an accident. We must protect that spirit."