As the entire cricketing fraternity went into an animated debate on the ball tampering issue in the Australia South Africa test at Cape Town, experts ranging from former players to journalists expressed shock over the incident. While many ridiculed ICC’s one match ban punishment and advocated for life ban on Australian captain Steve Smith and his colleagues David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, most expected and desired too, that Cricket Australia must act tough on the trio. However, ironically though, majority of them, preferred to slip into a selective amnesia.
Ball tampering is certainly not new, in the past many great names, some of them enjoyed next to God status in their country, have been caught tampering with the red cherry and in almost every incident, their respective boards would make a strong pitch for the players, as if, to influence upon the decision of the international cricket’s governing body.
Interestingly, after being caught the players would pretend innocence and escape harsh punishment. Media of respective countries too would toe the player’s line and stand by their country’s cricket board. Richer boards have always had their influences on the ICC as far as punishment to the wrongdoers is concerned. Where were the experts, then?
If one of their own (country) players is caught tampering with the leather in future, will the same expert group, ask for life ban? Going by past experiences, the answer is NO.
Cricket Australia (CA) did the best thing it could have done, in a way, its decision to ban Smith and Warner and Bancroft for a year from the game, is indeed praiseworthy. It stood for the game and acted against the players without looking at their records and position, its action was purely to regain and restore the reputation of the country and the team. It also has set a precedent for boards of other countries. Banning players like Smith and Warner-they have been the mainstay of Australia’s batting-just a year before the world cup requires lot of guts and courage. Even before the CA announced its decision, the Aussie media had asked for the heads of the erring trio. Because of their spirit, Australia has been a champion side.
Smith, too, did a brave act and confessed to the wrongdoing and took moral responsibility for all that happened on the Cape Town ground. What he did, is indeed rare.
Forget ball tampering, even in case of serious allegations like match fixing-the boards of the player/s in question would go on an overdrive to shield the player/s right from the word go, and sooner than later, would give a clean chit after an (in house) inquiry. Even, fixing allegations have surfaced in world cup finals, but the allegations have been ‘termed baseless.’
In the midst of big money, sponsorships and glitz, the ICC and the respective boards of the game need to stand up against any wrongdoing that brings disrepute to the beautiful game of cricket. Each and every allegation should be investigated by an independent team of professionals and the findings must be made public. And in the interest of the game the culprit must be brought to book irrespective of his stature. After all, the sport is bigger than the player.