IN THE RECENT Australia-South Africa Test match, a young Australian batsman was caught tampering the cricket ball. The objective was to make it reverse-swing and thus take an unfair advantage over the Opposition. Later Captain Steve Smith acknowledged that he had instructed Cameron Bancroft to do so and that the Aussie ‘leadership group’ was privy to this piece of cheating. As it turns out, this has been the standard operating practice since another video on ball tampering relating to Jan 2018 has surfaced.
There are some in India who think that what Smith did was a traffic offense. These are the people who say that this isn’t the first time that ball-tampering is happening; neither is it the last time it would happen. This claim is as shameless a statement as it can get. It’s like saying spot-fixing is the new standard and should, therefore, be condoned.
There are more reasons than one why Smith should go.
Deceit of any form is unwelcome, and when it happens in sports, it’s shameful. Cricketers are role models and transgressions as grotesque as this is shocking. Further, men have been charged for far less crime. Smith’s flaws are many, and he should have been sent to the cleaners the first time around when he sought the dressing room’s approval for requesting a review. How different is it from copying in an exam?
The second aspect of Smith’s saga is that he could have done it himself without using undue influence on Bancroft. Why make a callow youth a scapegoat? With that, he forfeits any claim to be a leader. By the way, had he taken the rap and not squealed on the others, I would have given him higher marks.
A HISTORY OF BEING CHEATS…
Australia has a history of being cheats and have often gotten away with it. Some ten years ago, in the famed Monkey-Gate Test Clarke grassed a catch and Ponting ruled to the umpire that the player was out. And Ponting, the joker that he was, had the nerve to ask a respected Indian journalist whether he was charging Ponting with cheating. What else was it? The sad part is that the journalists’ fraternity took it lying down without giving the then Aussie captain a piece of their mind.
If a Mohammad Amir can go for a 5-year ban for bowling a no-ball or a Sreesanth can take a life ban for bowling a single no-ball, which does nothing really to the outcome of the game, there is no reason on earth to let Smith go free. Remember Hansie Cronje served out a life ban for accepting to fix a match. Remember, he never ended up fixing the game. And Cronje was among the most gentlemanly of men to grace the cricket ground.
NEED TO BE ‘FIXED’
The Aussies and the English get away quickly. Long years ago Tony Grieg and Peter Lever cheated in the Vaseline controversy, and the British had the gall to poke fun at Bedi’s turban.
The Aussies have done the right thing by enforcing a one-year ban on Warner and Smith, the co-conspirators, and a 9-month sentence on Bancroft, the accused. IPL for once forgot the niceties and took a firm position on the guilty by banning them from this edition. That is the only way they can rebuild their brand. We all know that the brand had taken a heavy knocking following charges of betting and match-fixing. Mark it, in Australia the advertisers are busy dropping Smith like a hot potato. By the way, in India, the Mudgal cover containing 12 names remains unopened.
Over time, Smith and Warner will surely be forgiven for their error of judgment, but I am not sure, they will regain their respect in full measure.