It has been a tough week for Australian cricket. Ball-tampering is a serious offence in the sport and captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft have found themselves in trouble for attempting to deface the ball in the third Test against South Africa.
Bancroft was caught on video using a sharp object to affect the ball and there has been a rather extraordinary global reaction to the footage.
Smith, Warner and Bancroft know that they have brought the game of cricket into disrepute and that affects players, coaches and fans across the world.
All three men were stood down during the Test and have now been sent back to Australia. Not only has this caused embarrassment for one of cricketing’s great nations but it has also promoted fury and anger on a human level.
Young, aspiring cricketers will see these actions and may follow suit. Plain and simple, this was a blatant act of deceit from two of Australia’s most respected players and cricket fans will be hoping that this is an isolated incident.
Sadly, it may not be. Fresh accusations have surfaced in the last few days, with some suggesting that Australia used sugar to affect the ball during the 2017/18 Ashes tour.
If found guilty of any additional accusations, England will be determined to get the sweetest revenge in next summer’s series.
As of March 28th, Trevor Bayliss’ side are 6/4 to regain the Ashes in 888sport’s cricket odds and it would take a brave man to back against England. The fall out from this incident could have an adverse effect on Australian cricket for some time.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland has stated that the sanctions handed to Smith, Warner and Bancroft will be significant.
Many pundits, journalists and former players have been calling for Smith’s removal as captain and he could have the book thrown at him by the nation’s governing body. It makes you wonder how long this has been going on for and whether it will happen again…
You could almost see the guilt on his face as the Aussie captain attempted to pile the blame on a “leadership group” rather than accepting responsibility himself.
Smith was banned for one match and fined his entire match fee by the International Cricket Council but Cricket Australia deemed that punishment too lenient and both he and Warner have now been banned for 12 months.
But looking at the immediate future, Australia have to get through the fourth and final Test match against South Africa.
Head coach Darren Lehmann, not involved in the controversy, will now try to motivate his side for that encounter – although a heavy defeat is expected with so many changes. South Africa are 11/25 to win the Test and anything other than an Australia win will see the Proteas win the series.
In some ways, the fall out from this incident has been sad but Smith, Warner and Bancroft deserve everything they get.
Attempting to defraud the sport by tampering with the ball is serious and Australian cricket may struggle to bounce back. It will certainly take time for the Baggy Greens to win back the trust and support of the general cricketing public.