** Update: Darren Lehmann has just announced that he’s stepping down as Australian coach after the next test.


I’ve just watched the Steve Smith press conference in Australia. Wow. Do you think he was a bit upset? He cried more than my little sister when she watched Bambi. The poor bloke.

But should we feel sorry for Smith? On a human level it was very hard not to feel some sympathy for a person whose world has been turned upside down. He’s clearly very emotional and completely devastated.

On the other hand he said some things that made him appear a tad self-absorbed. For example, amongst the tears and numerous apologies he said “if anything good can come from this, it’s that I can be a lesson to others, and become a force for change”. Really? You’re looking for positives in this, Steve? What makes you think you deserve to become a force for good?

The next thing I found a bit strange was his obvious wish to be forgiven: “I hope in time I can earn back respect and forgiveness”. Unfortunately Steve that’s not really your call. It’s far too early to be talking about rehabilitation. Why should anyone care if you can become a good role model again in time? It all seemed a bit “me, me, me”.

I also thought that his statement was somewhat designed to generate sympathy. One might argue that it was simply a very honest expression of his emotions – and I can only applaud him for that – but on the other I’d have preferred him to talk more about the way he’s damaged cricket, and the office of Australia captain. Instead he came across as a bit self-pitying – although his contrition was obviously very apparent.

The most poignant moment of the presser, however, was when he advised children to think about who they might affect before making stupid decisions. He talked about the pain he’d caused his family, and really started to sob when he mentioned the hurt he’s caused his parents. Good on him for that. Just for a moment, Smith seemed to escape the bubble of his own misery and think about the broader consequences of what he’s done.

On a personal note, I do feel that his punishment was somewhat harsh. Although I think using sandpaper to rough up the ball is far worse than any previous ball-tampering incident – and I agree that the authorities had to send a strong message – a year long ban does seem a touch disproportionate.

Although what Smith and the Australians did was much worse than using sweets and gum as aids to shine the ball (as shining the ball is legal), it’s worth remembering that Faf Du Plessis once rubbed the ball on his trouser zip in a brazen attempt to gouge the leather. There wasn’t the same level of conspiracy involved, and Du Plessis didn’t try to cover up his actions, but the disparity between the respective punishments is huge.

Personally, I would have banned Smith for 5 or so test matches (as banning him for a period of time seems silly when Australia aren’t scheduled to play many games in the coming months). I would have banned Bancroft – who admitted in his presser that he was indeed using sandpaper rather than ‘tape’ – for the same amount of time. As for David Warner, who appears to be the main architect of the plan, I would’ve banned him for 5 matches and kicked him in the bollocks too for good measure.

In other news, and I hope you understand why I don’t want to say too much about this subject, it’s being reported that George Dobell, who I consider to be one of the best cricket journalists out there, is being sued for defamation by the ECB for recent articles that criticised Colin Graves.

I find this development absolutely remarkable and cannot see how it will end in anything other than a PR disaster for the board. After all, two prominent members of the board have just stepped down because they’re concerned about the ECB’s direction of travel.

I’m no lawyer, and I don’t know which parts of Dobell’s recent articles have enraged the authorities, but if prominent suits are resigning because they’re concerned about the governance of the ECB, I’m not surprised that dedicated journalists are finding fault too. Overall I think this is a really sad development.

James Morgan

2018-03-29T12:36:16+00:00March 29th, 2018|Talking Points|112 Comments


  1. Roger Dangerfield March 29, 2018 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    Smith is only sorry for being caught

    • Tom March 29, 2018 at 12:23 pm - Reply

      As opposed to Du Plessis who simply denied it and got off with a slap on the wrist?

    • BobW March 29, 2018 at 2:39 pm - Reply

      Most people are in those circumstances….

  2. James March 29, 2018 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    For your information, Darren Lehmann has resigned as Australia coach after the Jo’burg test (per Cricinfo).

    • SimonH March 29, 2018 at 12:18 pm - Reply

      David Warner draws level with Alastair Cook for the number of coaches he’s done in!

      Maybe not for long though….

      • James March 29, 2018 at 12:34 pm - Reply

        Good effort that. Warner has played half the number of tests Cook has.

  3. Tom March 29, 2018 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    The Australia lynch mob got their pound of flesh. They are addicted to outrage and this episode blew all their synapses and caused them to jizz in their pants at the same time. But give it a couple of days and that same mob will start complaining the punishment was too harsh, which it clearly is.

    James – do you acknowledge that a double standard is at play here?

    You have said repeatedly that this ball tampering was worse than any other. Let’s assume I concede that. That would be an aggravating factor, something that makes the transgression incrementally worse and demands an incrementally more severe punishment. It would be a reason for the punishment to be increased by 25% (or whatever) from previous punishments. But it would still need to be assessed on the same scale as other incidents of ball tampering. But that’s not what has happened. By banning these guys for 12 months, that is a punishment on an entirely different scale, as though theirs was an entirely different crime without precedent. It’s crazy.

    • James Morgan March 29, 2018 at 12:24 pm - Reply

      I hoped I made my position on that clear in the article. I agree with you. I think they needed to send a strong message with the punishment, but a one year ban is disproportionate imho. Gone too far.

      • Tom March 29, 2018 at 12:29 pm - Reply

        And do you concede that this disproportionate punishment is the result of and a reflection of a double standard?

        It didn’t happen by accident.

        • James Morgan March 29, 2018 at 12:34 pm - Reply

          Not sure what you mean exactly. I think things have gone pretty crazy now and the ACB have reacted to the furore and lost sight of the original transgression. Do I think it’s fair that Smith gets one year, and du Plessis got what, a one game ban and fine, absolutely not. I would have punished du Plessis more severely for the zipper incident but maybe not the sweet thing.

          • Tom March 29, 2018 at 12:37 pm - Reply

            That is a double standard, isn’t it?

            • Antony March 29, 2018 at 1:54 pm - Reply

              Wouldn’t a double standard involve the the ACB giving completely different punishments to two Australian players for the same ball tampering offense?

              The ICC penalties for the Australian and South African penalties are not completely inconsistent and reflect the slightly more serious nature of the Australian ball tampering.

              The fact that the ACB and CSA gave completely different penalties is not evidence of double standards or inconsistencies, rather just evidence that they are different cricket boards.

              Similar to how the different punishments for adultery in the UK and Saudi Arabia are not evidence of double standards just evidence of them being two different justice systems.

              • Tom March 29, 2018 at 2:40 pm

                An Australian is punished according to a different standard than a South African.

                That’s a double standard.

    • Nigel March 29, 2018 at 12:28 pm - Reply

      That’s really up to the Australian board, not James ?
      In any event, it’s a stricter standard rather than a double standard.

      • Tom March 29, 2018 at 12:30 pm - Reply

        It’s not just a “stricter standard”. It’s an entirely different one.

        • James March 29, 2018 at 12:45 pm - Reply

          It’s a Cricket Australia standard, informed (or confused) by public reaction, and relate to first class and international cricket for Australia. Since the IPL has its good name to protect (fill in your own jokes) it has banned Smith and Warner. I understand Somerset have not yet decided whether to cancel Bancroft’s contract for this summer.

          • Tom March 29, 2018 at 12:48 pm - Reply

            And the Cricket Australia standard is entirely different to any standard we’ve seen before – from other national boards or the ICC itself.

            To simply say it’s “stricter” ignores the fact that a 12-month ban is on a completely different scale to any previous punishment. It’s in a different universe.

            If Smith wasn’t Australian, would he have received such a harsh ban? That’s the double standard.

            • James March 29, 2018 at 12:55 pm - Reply

              As Silk points out below, the length of the ban is a result of pressure from within Australia. Would there be a similar outcry in India if Kohli did something similar? Probably not (though I hope he wouldn’t be such an idiot).

              • Tom March 29, 2018 at 12:58 pm

                Hence, the double standard.

          • oreston March 29, 2018 at 2:11 pm - Reply

            They have in fact now cancelled it.

            • oreston March 29, 2018 at 2:13 pm - Reply

              Sorry, this was in reference to Bancroft’s contract with Somerset for the 2018 season.

    • James March 29, 2018 at 12:32 pm - Reply

      I would hope it would set a benchmark for future punishments, but i wouldn’t want to bet on it.

      • Tom March 29, 2018 at 12:35 pm - Reply

        Can you imagine India doing the same to Kohli under the same circumstances?

        Australia has been pressured into destroying their captain.

        • Silk March 29, 2018 at 12:51 pm - Reply

          By their own fans. Not by anyone else.

          • Tom March 29, 2018 at 12:55 pm - Reply

            That’s oversimplifying it. There was pressure from outside as well.

            But yes, the kneejerk dickheads on Australian talk radio/social media did most of the damage.

  4. Nigel March 29, 2018 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    My impression was that the emotion was genuine, but a lot of the words (‘force for change’ etc) were prescripted.

  5. James March 29, 2018 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    I haven’t seen Smith’s press conference so can’t comment in any detail. However I think Tom (despite his rather one eyed Aussie paranoia) does have a point about equal standards. The SA board has turned a blind eye to what Faf was doing, and (according to John Holder) the ECB ignored his comments about England roughing up the ball in 1992 (and he was removed from the test umpires panel for 10 years after reporting it). There’s no doubt that the Australian attempt to rough up the ball took on new levels of collusion, premeditation and brazenness (not to mention stupidity), but CA have shown the way in acting on it.
    I am appalled by the ECB’s decision to sue George Dobell. I read the articles, and Dobell was critical of the ECB in a number of areas (some of which have been well aired on this website). Suing a journalist for writing critical articles smacks of being a dictator, and Graves should resign.

    • Tom March 29, 2018 at 12:31 pm - Reply

      Something ugly will come out of the way Smith has been treated.

      • James March 29, 2018 at 12:35 pm - Reply


      • dlpthomas March 29, 2018 at 12:41 pm - Reply

        If you mean Smith shouldn’t be left alone even to take a piss then I agree completely.

        If you mean Warner is going to try and burn the ACB to the ground then I also agree with you. (Though I probably keep a close eye on his safety as well)

        • Tom March 29, 2018 at 12:43 pm - Reply

          Warner is a more complex case.

          Smith, however, has been unfairly hung out to dry.

          • James March 29, 2018 at 12:51 pm - Reply

            Smith failed to show leadership when he should have (“I don’t want to know”), but I think he is generally well liked by the team. Warner (as you say) is a different issue. He appears to have been the prime mover in this fiasco, and I understand he is barely on speaking terms with the rest of the Australian team. He obviously likes being a captain, and is actually quite good at it (SRH did quite well under him), but it’s clear he will never get to be Australian captain. You have to wonder whether he will play for Australia again, or become a T20 mercenary.

            • Tom March 29, 2018 at 12:57 pm - Reply

              Warner made the rod for his own back but Smith deserved better.

              • dlpthomas March 29, 2018 at 1:16 pm

                Should we wait and see what Warner has to say?

              • James March 29, 2018 at 1:42 pm

                Well, at least one person is on Warner’s side. Mr “Never sledged anyone” Mervyn Gregory Hughes.

  6. Shane March 29, 2018 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Had to laugh about giving Dave Warner a kick in the bollocks. Smith guilty of being weak and Bancroft of being a patsy. Harsh punishments. Warner can feck off,never want to see him in the baggy green again. Dirtied his bib too many times.

    • James March 29, 2018 at 1:01 pm - Reply

      There are some players (apart from Warner) you never want to see playing for their country, no matter how good they are. Mohammed Asif would be another (plenty of offences before the spot fixing). James Anderson could be another.

      • AndyB March 29, 2018 at 1:42 pm - Reply

        Except that it is difficult to know how or where to draw the line. I remember the 80s and some of the rather unusual behaviour of certain stars, which today would seem to be a reason to cast them into the inner rings of hell. Being a twat can never be an offence – because one mans twat is another mans hero. And I do miss some of the more reasoned responses from years past; especially Ian Botham approving a Nike campaign (after he was accused of the odd spliff) which was to read ‘Botham’s back on the grass’. Unfortunately Nike had less nerve than Botham and decided not to go ahead.

      • Elaine Simpson-Long March 29, 2018 at 7:31 pm - Reply

        Anderson is top,of my list

  7. AndyB March 29, 2018 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    Sorry James but you are wrong. Shining the ball is legal, but not with an arificial substance, which pretty much limits it to the use of swaet and spit, not sweets or gum. This is all laid out in rule 41, and it makes no distinction between shining or roughing the ball, or between various methods (other than the one I mentioned which is legal). All are the same offence, ball tampering, and all are treated the same by the rules. So, either the authorities apply the rules as they are written or they stand guilty of a kangaroo court. If they want to change the rules to introduce distinctions, fine – do so, but such changes cannot apply retrospectively.

    This whole affair is less about cricket and more about justice and due process. If there is a problem in Australian cricket, and especially if that problem is cultural, the blame does not stop at the feet of the latest captain (although he may shoulder some responsibility). Like you would find in any major commercial enterprise it stops with the CEO, and in this case with James Sutherland, who has been ACB CEO for 16 years. His position must be regarded as utterly untenable given that he has presided over the rise of the current culture, the current players and team, and the rise of David Warner (if that is where people want to put the blame). And his response in this case cements his failure, being vindictive in the extreme and smacking of revenge for his humiliation in the recent pay dispute.

    • James March 29, 2018 at 1:11 pm - Reply

      I think what you say has a lot of force behind it, but much of it could have been said over the last 25 years (Freudian slip: I originally typed 205 years) about banned substances and match/spot fixing. Shining the ball and roughing it up seem to me to be different (the latter more serious), so you might consider a short ban for shining (one test), a longer one (3-5 tests) for roughing up. In the Australian case (hello, Tom), you would add something for the conspiracy.

      • Tom March 29, 2018 at 1:56 pm - Reply

        You are insisting upon some arbitrary distinctions between shining the ball and scuffing the ball.

        The reality is that it’s illegal to alter the state of the ball in all the ways discussed.

        The suggestion that one way gets a slap on the wrist while another way warrants a 12-month ban is absurd and irrational. You sound desperate for a justification for the jarring inconsistencies.

        • James March 29, 2018 at 4:45 pm - Reply

          I’m not sure the distinction is arbitrary, but what I actually want to see is some form of consistency going forward, and I don’t think you’ll get that with either a 12 month ban (where there will be hard cases) or a 1 test ban (where people will get off lightly). I was trying to get some sort of scale going forward.

  8. Comte March 29, 2018 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    It’s never good to see a grown man cry. I think Smith is genuinely remorseful, and, beneath it all, a fairly decent sort of a guy who made a very very bad decision and then tried to cover it up. I was pleased to see his old fella by his side. I’d like to think that if my son did anything as stupid and Smith that I’d stand by him however much I bollocked him in public.
    Lehman has done the right thing. I don’t think that things could move on with him still at the helm.
    I amazed that Graves, who I absolutely cannot stand, is suing GD. I hope that GD wind bigtime and that Graves is forced to stand down.

    • AndyB March 29, 2018 at 1:05 pm - Reply

      I’d like to think that if I were the father in those circumstances (admittedly unlikely as I only have a daughter), Sutherland would require a Kevlar jockstrap to maintain ownership of certain parts.

    • Shane March 29, 2018 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      Did Lehmann have to cry as well though? Kim Hughes got slaughtered in the 80s whilst giving his resignation through a veil of tears. I know we have moved on a bit but still…harden the fuck up boys!

  9. princeofporkupine March 29, 2018 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    The most disappointing aspect for me was the ‘Tape hoping to pick up granules’ lie. They had the opportunity to fully come clean and instead decided to part-confess in a bid to trivialise their ‘crime’ and lessen the outrage.

    That, coupled with the on-field denial before the umpires, which may be just a natural defence mechanism in the heat of the moment, has to call into question their integrity. Many would subscribe to the feeling that they are just ‘sorry because they got caught’.

    It also makes me wonder whether to take the ‘this has never happened before’ at face value – again, this could be another ‘admission to a lesser crime’ self preservation statement.

    • Tom March 29, 2018 at 1:08 pm - Reply

      Really? They lied at a press conference and that’s the worst of it?

      If that’s the case, it’s pretty hard to justify a 12-month ban, isn’t it?

      • princeofporkupine March 29, 2018 at 1:37 pm - Reply

        Yep, that’s how integrity works.

        I didn’t mention the ban, you probably need to direct your questions to Cricket Australia who considered the punishment just.

        • Tom March 29, 2018 at 2:43 pm - Reply

          That’s how integrity works?

          If the worst of it was lying at a press conference, there wouldn’t be a ban at all.

          The worst of it is that they illegally altered the state of the ball.

          • BobW March 29, 2018 at 3:57 pm - Reply

            If you lie to your employers then expect to get into trouble. The employers would have been watching the press conference.

            • Tom March 30, 2018 at 2:17 am - Reply

              Lying at a press conference isn’t the same as misleading Cricket Australia.

              Some of you guys are just bending over backwards to justify the inconsistency.

              “Oh it’s because they used sandpaper. Oh it’s because they lied at the press conference.”

              None of that explains the 12-month ban, when compared to the slap on the wrist given to Du Plessis.

        • Steve March 30, 2018 at 8:46 pm - Reply

          pretty sure there has been lying in press conferences before over ball tampering . Usually though the truth doesn’t come out because the board lines up with rather than against the players.

  10. Doug M March 29, 2018 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Many years ago Kim Hughes blubbered on TV when they lost the 1981 series. Never mind.
    More interested in the ECB trying to Sue Dobell for telling the truth. Hopefully it will help to bury them deeper in the hole they are already digging for themselves.

  11. James March 29, 2018 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    The ICC has announced they are going to do a wide ranging “Spirit of Cricket” review. How good this is will depend very much on who is on it. Aggers has volunteered, and I think he’d be good. I’d also suggest Adam Gilchrist, Jim Maxwell, Brendon McCullum Rahul Dravid, Michael Holding or Ian Bishop. This is not exhaustive.

    • AndyB March 29, 2018 at 1:34 pm - Reply

      Dermot Reeve – on the grounds that few are aware of do many ways of playing with the rules as Dermot. Only joking 🙂

    • Tom March 29, 2018 at 2:43 pm - Reply

      Will everyone get 12-month bans for ball tampering henceforth?

      • BobW March 29, 2018 at 3:59 pm - Reply

        Only if you’re Australian…
        Years back I remember Botham getting banned for admitted he smoked pot. Bit odd as you can bet most of the West Indian cricket team would have been smoking pot long before him. But then the West Indies have a different culture.

  12. AndyB March 29, 2018 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    Interesting about the ECB suing Dobell, but I think it is wrong to see this as an attempt to take on Dobell or even to win the case. It is unlikely in the extreme that the ECB would win this case, given the available defences of honest opinion and justification. Since the former includes the test of whether a reasonable person could have held the opinion – and all of us on this site are both reasonable and believe Graves is a total dickhead – the hurdles for the ECB are very high. It seems more likely that this is Graves behaving like Trump. Using the threat and early stages of legal action to suppress criticism whilst his own position is under challenge. This in itself would introduce the interesting question of whether Graves is misappropriating ECB resources for personal ends…….

    • Martin Hadland March 29, 2018 at 2:30 pm - Reply

      Couldn’t agree more .Dictatorial behavoiour accepted in the self built Costcutter organisation is entirely inappropriate in the boardroom of a consultative governing body of a major national sport.

      Under Graves and Harrison the ECB seem to have abandoned the role of guardians of the health of the game and substituted make as much money as possible regardless of the effect on the health of the game

  13. dave e March 29, 2018 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    OK then…..Smith has been pilloried , vilified and now punished . Amongst the haters who amongst you wouldn’t have him as their overseas player in county cricket next year ?
    I’ve informed the Warwickshire powers that be of his availability !!!

    • AndyB March 29, 2018 at 2:22 pm - Reply

      Good point, but as a Brummie born and bred I am afraid the slot is not available at Edgbaston. No overseas player is more important to a county side than Jeetan Patel is to Warwickshire. 🙂

      • dave e March 29, 2018 at 3:14 pm - Reply

        ah-ha…..I seem to remember the Mighty Bears had Prabhakar lined up until an unfortunate injury befell him……we took a chance on a bloke called Lara instead. Seem to remember it worked out ok lol

        • James March 29, 2018 at 4:48 pm - Reply


  14. SimonH March 29, 2018 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    The rush of English cricket journalists to Twitter to express their support for George Dobell and revulsion at the actions of the ECB will start soon… any minute now….

    • James Morgan March 29, 2018 at 3:38 pm - Reply

      Still waiting 😉

      • BobW March 29, 2018 at 4:00 pm - Reply

        Think I’ll find him on Twitter and provide some moral support.

      • AndyB March 29, 2018 at 4:08 pm - Reply

        Patience. The pubs are still open. 🙂

  15. Andy Cheese March 29, 2018 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    Would people be saying that the punishment was too harsh if he had used and electric drill, chisel and a hammer or is it too harsh because it was just sandpaper. I think he is lucky to get off with just one year out of the game.

    • AndyB March 29, 2018 at 2:47 pm - Reply

      If he had tried to stuff an electric drill, chisel and hammer down his trousers I suspect any penalty imposed by the ACB would have been incidental.

    • Tom March 29, 2018 at 2:47 pm - Reply

      It’s too harsh because it is disproportionate to previous punishments for ball tampering.

      The method can’t be the difference between a slap on the wrist and a 12-month ban.

      If you murder someone with a chainsaw or murder them with a gun, should there be vastly different penalties because of the method? The intent is the same. The method is irrelevant.

      If Smith was lucky to get 12 months, how lucky was Du Plessis to get no ban at all?

      • James March 29, 2018 at 5:32 pm - Reply

        The issues that made the Australian offence worse were firstly that it was clearly premeditated (why else would Bancroft take sandpaper onto the pitch?), and secondly that senior members of the team (Warner) got a junior member to do their dirty work (which makes it conspiracy). I think even you would accept that Du Plessis has other valid reasons for wearing trousers on the field (which is not to say that he didn’t preplan using the zipper)! John Howard has said that he doesn’t think Smith should captain Australia again, because he’s too weak, and I think there may be something in that. He’d certainly get abuse from overseas crowds if he did (I went to a recent England v Pakistan test where Amir was subject to shouts of “no ball” every time he bowled). It would be tough to captain with that in the back of your mind.

        • Tom March 30, 2018 at 2:19 am - Reply

          Which incidents of ball tampering weren’t premeditated? Which of them happened by accident?

          Again, you guys are just trying to over-emphasise other factors to justify the gross inconsistency of the punishments meted out.

  16. SimonH March 29, 2018 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Presumably trying to intimidate independently-minded journalists into silence is something that fits in with the values of the ECB’s sponsors?

  17. JackieL March 29, 2018 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    I think Tom is trying to reduce the crime therefore the punishment. This was a conspiracy to cheat. As captain, Smith is definitely the man to take the rap. He is leading the side so his morals are in question. Like murder I’m afraid every crime is aggravated by cold premeditation. They planned the ball tampering in order to help them win the game. Nothing is more threatening to a sport. They must have thought it was better to cheat than to accept possible defeat. Accepting defeat with good grace is one of the hallmarks of cricket. Both Ponting and Clarke, previous captains, showed that after tough battles, they conceded victory with honesty and praise for the other side. How on earth can a team improve if they are not addressing how they are losing? What if the tampering hadn’t been spotted. The action was rotten to the core. And nothing but a severe ban could bring players to their senses. If Tom supports Australia then he has to wonder exactly what is he supporting? A team that wants to win at all costs, including cheating? He should be proud that Australia has decided to put a stop to that kind of culture. Once discovered it had to be dealt with severely enough to send out a right message. Corruption is not what you want. The captain has to be above suspicion.

    • AndyB March 29, 2018 at 3:08 pm - Reply

      Ignores all the core issues, most specifically the rules as set by the ICC and the precedents for sentencing. This is not about cricket (or even sport); it is about due process and justice. And it seems poor form to conflate this issue with Tom being an Australian. I am a Brummie who now lives in Surrey and has always supported England, but I only feel disgust at how this has been handled. It has been a lynch mob led by an ACB CEO who is out for revenge for his humiliation at the hands of the players over pay.

    • Tom March 29, 2018 at 3:15 pm - Reply

      It should be assessed on the same scale as previous instances of ball tampering, and the punishment should also be determined according to that scale. But that hasn’t happened and that’s the problem.

      Also, which instances of ball tampering in the past weren’t “premeditated”? If that is indeed the aggravating factor you suggest, how were other examples not premeditated? Did they happen by accident? Oh whoops, I just tampered with the ball.

      Again, I refer you to the precedent set by Du Plessis, who’s been pinged twice, and South Africa, who took no action at all. He’s still their captain.

      How can it be a fair outcome when the punishments are so grossly disparate?

      How can it be fair when an Australian gets a 12-month ban but a South African gets a slap on a wrist? There has to be some measure of consistency and a sense of scale.

      • Pete Cresswell March 29, 2018 at 3:39 pm - Reply

        You’ll have to ask the ACB that one Tom – no-one here is particularly disagreeing with the disproportionate-ness.

        The ICC has imposed broadly comparable punishments across the respective cases. Bancroft got the same demerits as Faf. Smith got slightly more for being captain & not stopping it, which is fair enough IMO

        Cricket Australia has topped that up, whereas the SA board opted to promote Faf to captain 6 months after his ban. Which tells you there are 2 vastly different standards at work (NOT a double standard mate, sorry, a double standard only applies when the same outfit is applying it – but that’s semantics, and me being unable to resist correcting your grammar).

        • Tom March 29, 2018 at 3:45 pm - Reply

          Correcting my grammar? How so? You’re suggesting it’s not a double standard and debating the meaning of that phrase. That’s got nothing to do with grammar.

          The reality is that everyone is playing the same game of international cricket. But within that space, there is a double standard that sees an Australian banned for 12 months and a South African given a slap on the wrist. The Australian is punished more severely because apparently his board takes a harder line. That is the double standard and it’s patently unfair.

          Using capitals doesn’t make any case mate, sorry.

          • Pete Cresswell March 29, 2018 at 4:03 pm - Reply

            IMO means “in my opinion” – it’s a fairly common online usage

            And valid point re. grammar – I should have used “semantics”. Which takes nothing away from the fact that the dictionary definition of “double standard” isn’t what you think it is though.

            The situation is very unfair. Particularly as I”m fairly sure most other international teams are using less-obvious was of encouraging the ball to reverse swing.

            But it could only be a “double standard” if it was the ICC banning Smith et al for a year. Not CA being stampeded into doing one thing, & CSA an other – you need to point the chip on your shoulder a lot closer to home that this website

            There are different standards, South Africa’s is a bit too lenient. Australia’s one is far too harsh, and CA should have found a better way to clean up the mess it’s made out of its senior team.

            • Tom March 29, 2018 at 4:12 pm - Reply

              OK, champ.

              Let’s just say it was a case of “a rule or principle being unfairly applied in different ways to different people”.

              Or “a rule or standard of good behaviour that, unfairly, some people are expected to follow or achieve but other people are not”.

              Or “a set of principles that applies differently and usually more rigorously to one group of people or circumstances than to another”.

              Or “a set of principles that allows greater freedom to one person or group than to another”.


            • Tom March 29, 2018 at 4:15 pm - Reply

              Seeing as you’re so keen on dictionary definitions, guess how I found those ones.

    • Steve March 30, 2018 at 9:02 pm - Reply

      But it’s just not believable that basically all other ball tampering is not also premeditated. People didn’t just spontaneously go ooh lucky I have these mints in my pocket.

      People have also lied about their actions in press conferences afterwards before. The board usually backs their players.

      To move away from the SA boards clearly low standards for their own player behaviour. It’s interesting to contrast ECB doing nothing about Broad and Anderson in 2010 roughing the ball with their shoes. Broad lied about it later and said it was because it was hot.

  18. Doug March 29, 2018 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    Steve Smith hasn’t been banned for 12 months, he has been offered a 12 month ban to which he has 5 days to respond. From my sources he is likely to appeal given the feedback after the press conference this morning. Likewise Cameron Bancroft. As for Warner, there is not too much love within the CA for him, so likely to either appeal and fail or accept and move on. He knows there is T20 gun for hire deals out there for him, but he will have to retire first. I think he will try and make a comeback after the ban.

    • James Morgan March 29, 2018 at 3:40 pm - Reply

      I can’t see Smith or anyone appealing the ban. Not sure Australian public opinion would tolerate it. He’s been hammered for what he’s done, so why should opinion shift now he’s cried at a press conference? I could be completely wrong (wouldn’t be the first time!) but I think it would be a really bad look if Smith admits cheating and then refuses to take his punishment.

      • Tom March 29, 2018 at 3:48 pm - Reply

        You give the Australian public too much credit.

        They’ve got their blood. They’ve cut down the tall poppy. Now the pendulum swings back the other way – at least among a section of those paying attention.

        But I agree, Smith won’t appeal.

      • Doug March 29, 2018 at 4:00 pm - Reply

        Humans a re strange animals James!

        As I mentioned in another blog of yours, Steve Smith wanted to get caught, he had had enough of the circus that Warner had created. The were issue after issue right from the first ball bowled, aggression was building and a lot of hate developing and it was out of control. Warner was driving it because his ego was hungry. The retaliation by SA was quite low, the SBW masks which were endorsed by the SA Board, pushed Smith closer to the edge. He’s a list –
        Rabada send off of Warner, twice – Warner
        Warner run out of De Villiers (Lyon’s classy act) and verbal spray which followed – Warner
        Twice umpiries stepping in to shut Warner up – Warner
        De Kock incident – Warner
        Crowd abuse of Warner’s wife – Warner
        SBW masks in the crowd – Warner
        Spectator ejected from ground for abusing Warner – Warner
        Ball tampering – Warner

        Honestly, the Warner circus had to be stopped and Smith needed an out because nothing was controlling it, it was spiralling out of control. He saw Warner and Bancroft discussing something during the lunch break, enquired, told them he wanted nothing to do with it and walked away. His out had been set and it just needed to happen, which it did. Smith was exhausted, I would be to. His press conference after the days play showed he had the world lifted off his shoulders, he actually looked relieved more than anything.
        This is great for cricket, for Australian cricket, I love tough cricket and Australia are one of the better exponents of it – but hoping there will be no more of that over aggressive bullshit. Watch Starc keep his mouth shut to batsmen, Lyon be a more humble man, less chirp from the fielders – it will be pleasantly refreshing!

        P.S. Tom – seriously, I love Australian cricket!

        • James March 29, 2018 at 5:07 pm - Reply

          Interesting that, following Warner’s departure, it looks like SA want to cool things down a bit. They sent Amla out to face the press (probably the best man for that job). http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/22944430/a-reality-check-every-team-world-hashim-amla
          The more you look at this, the more it looks like a Warner (and possibly Boof) problem than an Australian problem.

          • Doug March 29, 2018 at 5:53 pm - Reply

            Just saw a Faf De Pliess press conference and he says the Australians had been cheating for a while – seriously, you cannot make that up. If they got say AB De Villiers to say that, we might sit up and listen, but Faf really???

            • Tom March 30, 2018 at 2:20 am - Reply

              And yet people still claim there is no double standard?

  19. Down at Third Man March 29, 2018 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    The best bit of cricket I watched in 2017 happened on Saturday November 25th. And it happened off the field of play. Australia ended the second day of the 1st Test v England at 165/4 in response to England’s 302 all out. That Australian score represented a recovery from 76/4. It was a time when many Australians and quite a few England followers had little faith in the Australian side’s chances against England. Less that 175 all out was a possibility.

    At 10.50 am BT moved from their field based talking heads to view the players congregating on the boundary. Their cameras began to focus on the not out batsmen, Smith and Marsh. The next ten minutes revealed Smith’s mental preparations for the resumption of his innings, something that is usually conducted in the privacy of the dressing room.

    Those of you who know your CLR James will recall his description of Headley staying awake lying on his bed all night visualizing his innings to come next day. Smith revealed a great deal of his character in those 10 minutes – eyes closed throughout, like a shaman inducing a trance like state. Marsh just chewed gum. If we are all somewhere along the spectrum, Smith is someway pretty far along it. We see him later on the pitch talking to himself – echoes of Boycott who met every shot with an audible ‘Good shot Geoffrey’ that you could hear in the covers – every shot. So this is a fragile human being of exceptional talent. No doubt he has his strategies for relationships, but nevertheless a degree unnatural; probably ill-suited to team leadership and spokesmanship. And in a trice, now swept up in this oh so real world of social consequences and the twin demands of hero and by-next-door that sponsors pay for and which the rest – administrators, coaches and team mates benefit financially from, including the hype merchants in the marketing department and the paid voices in the commentary box.

    There is no Spirit of Cricket. There is a spirit of cricket but the Spirit of Cricket stuff was a hasty device invented by Cowdrey and a few others of an old guard who saw the way a new form of professional cricket was heading and needed a veil to cover the facts. There are Laws and there are Playing Conditions and then there are fudges which like gaps in the floor boards allow in good time the litter and cigarette ends of life to drop away from sight and memory.

    Smith needed wiser counsel but he needs now to be given some space. He is a rare and vulnerable talent and a complex human being – CA sold him out to save revenue that was in jeopardy – that’s the real spirit of cricket – pro cricket’s collective greed that has a way of forcing into and disrupting the supporters’ myth-making.

    • JackieL March 29, 2018 at 5:07 pm - Reply

      Do we need all this cynicism? The spirit of cricket has been around for a long time – hence the saying “It’s not cricket” for something that’s not done. Do you think only Cowdrey started it?
      Who is inspired by cheating? Long may cricket have high standards? Why does Tom hold South Africa as the benchmark? The opposite is surely true. Their punishment smacks of a society which has already suffered from corruption in cricket,

      • AndyB March 29, 2018 at 9:40 pm - Reply

        It is a weak argument only put forward in the absence of a response to the real issue to ask ‘who is inspired by cheating’? We can all agree that no one is, or should be. No one disagrees with the requirement for punishment. The issue is that the punishment is excessive, has been imposed without due process and has been delivered by a dicredited ACB and CEO who have been looking for revenge on their team ever since it forced them to back down in the pay row.

        As for the spirit of cricket. The term has certainly been around for a long time but it has always been a convenient myth. From the corrupt betting rings of the mid-19thC to the chuckers and prima donnas of the late 19thC, from the amateur/gentlemen divide to the hair gel scandals of the 40s, from the mismanagement of the Windies Cricket Board in the 70s to the corruption of the Indian Board…….the ‘spirit’ has always been a useful club of last resort. And all that is without going into individual cases.

      • Tom March 30, 2018 at 2:23 am - Reply

        I don’t hold South Africa as “the benchmark”.

        I am merely pointing out the gross inconsistency of the punishments meted out. It cannot be a fair outcome when we have that inconsistency.

        I just want a standard that applies across the board.

  20. Doug M March 29, 2018 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Harsh penalties? Well maybe, but it strikes me there is no set rule for what you can be penalised for this. BUT once the Aussie PM says what he did something has to be done. Maybe it will make others less likely to do the same thing. Considering Australia’s rather scant schedule in the next 6 months Smith and Bancroft won’t miss much anyway. Pity if you’ve spent 100 quid on a ODI ticket though this summer. Mmm..not really sure I want to watch England anyway, a fiver might change my mind perhaps.

    • AndyB March 29, 2018 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      You simply could not invent the idea of Malcolm Turnbull trying to take the moral high ground and forcing action. It is like hearing Donald Trump advocate womens rights and celibacy. Turnbull, before he was a politician, was a lawyer acting for Kerry Packer. and was so bereft of moral standards that a judge accused him of ‘poisoning the fountain of justice’. And this case proves that he has not lost his touch over 30 years later.

  21. Marc Evans March 29, 2018 at 10:00 pm - Reply

    Was listening to Goughie on Talk Sport at work this PM. A clear Aussiephile he failed to convince the listeners, who voted three to one in favour of the punishments with little sympathy for the predicaments of Smith and Warner. Apparently the news has made headlines In the USA, where cricket is largely an unknown quantity and interest in any contest between Australia and South Africa is hardly going to set their pulses racing.
    This is clearly more than a technical issue of ball tampering. Ever since the lumbering PM got involved right at the start it has become an excercise in damage limitation for the ‘ holyier than thou’ Aussie establishment. What is difficult for an England supporter to understand is how important the Baggy Green is to your average Aussie sports nut. They have no soccer to dominate their attention. Whilst the punishments are clearly over the top compared with prior misdemeanours on the cheating front it’s hard to feel sorry for Smith and co., as their conduct over the last few seasons has been less than an example to others, openly acknowledged by Mr Lehman, a major player in these tactics who has finally realised how untenable his position was.
    With tests starting in South Africa and New Zealand tomorrow it will be interesting to see how many cameras are directed at every movement of the bowlers and fielders activities. For the time being at least even chewing gum and sweets is likely to be a non starter. However we all know how short media attention spans are, so whether there is a long term efffect I guess only time will tell.

  22. SteveO March 29, 2018 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    For the future, I would like to see only the bowler allowed to work the surface of the ball. After all, it is the tool of their trade, would you like someone else messing with the tools you use. After each balled bowled, the fielders then simply return the ball to the bowler, nothing else. Batsmen can use sandpaper on their bat if needed, but isn’t that another sort of tampering ?

    • Marc Evans March 30, 2018 at 1:35 am - Reply

      The problem with ‘tampering with the ball’s condition’ is it involves almost everything you can think of. In today’s talk sport Goughie talked about using lip balm, which he had since childhood, being a sufferer from chapped lips. This meant he had the residue on his hands constantly, but no one ever accused him of cheating.
      To cheat whatever you do has to be deliberate. Anything else, however harmful to the ball, cannot be classified as cheating. It’s a bit like drug taking, which can be purely accidental for medicinal purposes, yet everyone seems to get tarred with the same brush. Witness Chris Froome.

      • d'Arthez March 30, 2018 at 9:16 am - Reply

        Standards evolve over time, and with increased professionalisation in sports, that means the standards are much higher now than they were in the past. I doubt there was much of a medical team in the 1950s travelling with the players. Nor were the effects of certain drugs known on performance (or simply not being discovered yet). Thus as a player you had little information to guide the process of cheating. For all we know, the best batsmen had contaminated meat in those days, but that was not tested either.

        Not so these days. There are medical teams in just about any major sport. The doctors are specifically aware of what is and is not allowed, so the defence that my doctor prescribed it to me, are useless. More often than not, there are alternatives available that do not boost performance. So, why do these doctors prescribe these dubious drugs (for the purposes of professional sports), unless they don’t mind the increased performance?

        An accidental drug test turning positive would be due to unforeseen events, such as going out to a restaurant in the off-season, and having contaminated meat. But such explanations are unlikely in a professional sport that is deliberately bending the rules time and again, in a sport that is known for that. Armstrong did the same after recovering from cancer. He was basically allowed to take whatever he wanted, as long as he could link a side effect from having suffered cancer to the drug. And that still was not enough.

        As for the asthma defence: Should I be allowed to fairly compete in say fencing, by drugging myself up to the n-th degree so I can compensate for a few “defects” I have, or maybe I should make the decision to compete in a DIFFERENT sport within the rules? Now there is a thought.

    • Doug March 30, 2018 at 10:47 am - Reply

      Pampering I think you’ll find SteveO!

  23. AndyB March 30, 2018 at 7:49 am - Reply

    All those who think this matter has been handled in accordance with the rules and due process should read the article by Daniel Brettig on ESPN Cricinfo at http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/22956426/sutherland-flies-home-mounting-chaos . Given the facts as laid out about the involvement of various parties in the disciplinary process, and the rules for that process in the ACB rules, the position of the ACB is legally unsustainable and the continuing role of Sutherland as a cricket administrator is untenable. If cheating by ball tampering is punishable by the penalties handed down, what should be the penalties for cheating on due process. Hanging?

    • Doug March 30, 2018 at 4:06 pm - Reply

      As I said, they will appeal. The Players Association have stepped in questioning how you can pluck at random 12mth & 9mth bans on players, there is no precedent nor is there anything in the CA Agreements. CA made them up, hence why James Sutherland is the next to go.

      • Cricketcricketcricket March 30, 2018 at 11:05 pm - Reply

        If you always had to have precedent then surely we’d never have any punishments as everyone would get off ?!?!

        • Steve March 31, 2018 at 2:33 am - Reply

          No you set up rules then punish according to the rules. Not make rules up after the offense, because that sort of thing is prone to random application of penalties and say a person you don’t like getting worse punishment than ones you don’t bear a pre-existing grudge against. Its random and arbitrary and they would win any decent appeal process.

          Fine if CA wants to put in their code of conduct ball tampering will result in a ban for between 9 months to 2 years and if it was the rules they were playing under would be fine if they had done this already. Under the rules they thought they were playing under they would be up for a 1 game ban. The sentence reflects how seriously world cricket viewed what they did when they did it and CA have never stated that they had a higher standard.

          • Cricketcricketcricket April 1, 2018 at 7:31 am - Reply


            You set the punishment at a standard rate.l then, decide that actually said punishment isn’t worthy any longer so up it. So being, setting a new precedent.

  24. dlpthomas March 30, 2018 at 9:12 am - Reply

    The latest Cricket Sadist Hour is well worth a listen.

    • Steve March 31, 2018 at 2:11 am - Reply

      Its probably some of the most sensible commentary on the issue around, and in particular gives it the context it deserves.

  25. SimonH March 30, 2018 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    Jonathan Liew is one of those writers who can be spectacularly right or spectacularly wrong:


    Wow, this is so wrong.

  26. Cricket-Now April 4, 2018 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    Smith messed up big time but jeez have a bit of sympathy. He didn’t kill anyone. He made a mistake and will be punished enough, he could become depressed from this sort of thing. No need to continue going after him anymore. Its over.

  27. Andrew Cheese April 12, 2018 at 6:30 am - Reply

    Does anybody know if the sales of Smith’s autobiography have gone up since the sandpaper scandal ? Does it now come in a limited edition sandpaper dust jacket ?

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